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Ira Koretsky
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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Your Tone and Voice Are Your Brand

Your tone and voice – the ones belonging to you and your employees – are your brand.

What tone and voice do your employees use to communicate with one another? It is the same voice – words and phrases – they will use when speaking to your customers. It is the same tone -- how they say what they say -- that will become the personality of your brand.  You and your employees are your brand.

One of the biggest challenges facing any brand today, particularly in the world of social media, is finding and articulating a proper tone and voice – one that is genuine, unique and compatible with your target audience. The power of social media is such that people will see through and expose brands who pretend to be something they are not. If you put on a mask, people will see through it.

How, then, should you address this challenge? For starters, choosing the right tone and voice is more than just an exercise in window dressing. Every message you share verbally, in print and online should look and feel as if it came from a single source. Your tone and voice should be consistent throughout. And it needs to be the right tone and voice.

Engage your employees by spending time with them. Look across the organization for people who are good in front of customers (hint: you may need to look beyond the sales and marketing department). Identify those who can speak and write conversationally in a way that is genuine, unique and compatible with your target audience.  Look for people who are social, authentic and transparent – people who your customers will trust. These are the people who should be articulating the tone and voice of your brand.

After all, when it comes to tone and voice, you and your employees are your brand.

While Nike didn't advertise on official Olympics' television, Nike was busy launching a variety of advertisements that were Olympic-styled. And they were effective.

One in particular titled "Jogger," stars 12-year old Nathan Sorrell. Nathan is from London, Ohio. During the video Nathan can be seen jogging. What you don't see in the beginning is that Nathan is 5-foot-3 and he is overweight...200 pounds. In fact, in an interview he shared that he threw up while shooting the video.

Published on July 31, that's just 28 days ago, the video on just the Nike YouTube page, has amassed 1,254,539 views.

Here's why it works...and think about what you can do in your advertising and messaging to connect to your audience's heart and mind.

- Journey Story. Nearly everyone is concerned about our weight. And we can empathize with the star. Nathan is an average, kid next store. Not a pro athlete...not an athlete at all. In fact, this might even be a David and Goliath metaphor. Where Nathan is battling his weight and is determined to beat it.

- Intriguing.  It starts off in such a way that you are intrigued. You are not quite sure what you are viewing. You can tell someone is running...you have to watch to figure it out.

- Voice Over.  The voice over is full of great messages and is narrated by a powerful voice

- Short.  It's 1:09. 

- Generates Action. Makes you think. If Nathan can do it, so can I. It's the archetypal Nike message. It's on message. On brand. On emotion (my phrase). Tweets, articles, interviews, parodies, blog posts, and more keep appearing. People are responding in words and with action. That's what advertising is supposed to do.

 

- Nike Commercial

- Interview on ABC News

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Brand Reasons to Believe…Or Leave

Last week, I wrote about the brand promise of a summer swim school, where the brand promise, or positioning statement, was “Teaching the confidence that inspires moments of triumph.” I also mentioned how important it was for the brand promise to be believable (i.e., the evidence you provide to your customers that you can deliver on your promise).

Before you make a brand promise, be sure you can identify at least 3 true and credible reasons to believe. Also called brand proof points, these reasons to believe should be based on fact and are a key element of the brand positioning statement.

Your reasons to believe can include a statement of quantifiable and verifiable results (e.g., "75% of our students go on to swim competitively in summer leagues"), effective images (e.g., photos of actual students competing in or winning events), evidence of past success (e.g., a display of trophies and awards earned by your instructors, as well as current and former students) or testimonials (e.g., “…gave me the confidence I needed to improve my time enough for a first place finish!”).  

Brands that do this well provide their customers with true and credible reasons to believe.  The proof points they provide are the basis for customer decisions regarding initial purchases and continued loyalty to a brand. On the other hand, brands who fail to provide such proof points are effectively providing their customers with…you guessed it…reasons to leave.

Josh Sanburn in Time Business Online wrote a piece, "Big Experiment: New Menu, New Decor, and a New Target Audience." 

It's a well-written article about Hooters, its goals, and its plans for changing its image to woo more women.

What made me laugh so hard was the second sentence, "Over the past several years, Hooters’ sales have been on the decline. So the “breastaurant”..." And there you have it. A face dripping with ice tea and a messy desk covered in ice tea. (there's good storytelling fodder in this one)

The word is clever and communicates its meaning immediately. I doubt it will make it into next year's list of newly approved words...

 

The Moral: What can you do to be more interesting and creative to generate more attention...of course doing it within your own organization's and personal comfort zones?

Robert Gaskins, inventor of PowerPoint shares some interesting stories, insights, and background information on PowerPoint.

In his BBC article, "How PowerPoint changed Microsoft and my life," he shares some interesting news.

- "PowerPoint was first launched on the Mac platform on 20 April 1987 after its developers decided Windows was not able to support it (see image below)"
- "Microsoft bought PowerPoint 25 years ago, on 31 July 1987...PowerPoint became the first acquisition made by the company, creating a new business unit located in Silicon Valley."
- "[Bill] Gates, wasn't keen to buy PowerPoint initially"
- "10 versions of PowerPoint released for both the Mac and Windows platforms"
- "After six months of talks, and tripling its offer price, Microsoft finally completed the deal for $14m."

Thank you Robert for thinking of PowerPoint! Read more at the BBC site here.

I'll leave you with a musing of mine I have shared with PowerPoint naysayers for many a year now...since 2000.

“PowerPoint, like any tool, is only as good as the person who wields it. If you want to blame PowerPoint for bad presentations, then blame Excel for poor financial performance and Word for terrible prose.”
- Ira Koretsky, CEO, The Chief Storyteller®

 

I've known Frans Johansson (author of The Medici Effect) for a number of years. His book is an excellent read in innovation and creativity (read my review here). I saw his Tweet and read it with great interest.

Frans idea of connecting with his readers, fans, clients, etc. is brilliant. I'm trying to figure out a way to do it myself and make it seem like it was my idea (smile). Here's Frans' blog post in its entirety.

------

Over the past few years I’ve received many emails, tweets, and Facebook messages about the impact of The Medici Effect on people’s lives. I read each email, and I am truly touched by all of them. Now I want to be able to connect with you on a more regular basis.

Starting this week, I am kicking off what I’m calling “Intersections with Frans” — that is, you can schedule 20 minutes, first come first serve, to chat with me — via phone, Skype, or if you’re in New York City, in person at our office. Given my travel schedule, I’ll send out a note every Monday morning about my availability for the week.

The purpose of these calls is to simply connect. As you know, I strongly believe that the best ideas happen when people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives intersect. So, let’s “intersection hunt” together! We can talk about anything:

- A burning idea of yours
- Writing-
- Lord of the Rings
- The Medici Effect
- My upcoming book The Click Moment
- Why Twin Peaks is one of the greatest television shows of all time
- Intersectional Thinking
- Entrepreneurship
- Anything else you can really think of

One of the reasons I’ll drive out of my way to shop at Lowe’s is the customer experience I have while I’m in the store. For me, Lowe's has become the neighborhood hardware store, where the associate behind the commercial sales counter really does know my name. The customer experience he and his fellow associates provide is friendly, positive and inspiring. 

The Brand Manager in me is especially attuned to the ways in which brands like Lowe's deliver their customer experiences. Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a variety of approaches, including the use of “mystery shoppers”, catchy slogans (e.g., “People Pleasing People,” “Easy to do Business With,” etc.), Process Quality Management and Improvement methodologies, customer outreach and appreciation days, and exercises in mapping and analyzing the customer journey.

While each of these approaches can certainly help a brand deliver an improved customer experience, the brands who excel at delivering a superior customer experience know the return on these investments is dependent upon one critical success factor – the degree of ownership your employees assume in delivering the experience. You can have the most engaging “mystery shoppers,” the catchiest slogan, the highest-quality and most customer-focused processes and, unless your employees take full ownership in all aspects of its delivery, your customer experience will fall short of your customers’ expectations.    

Experience Lowe’s.  Find out what it’s like to “build something together” with the folks at your neighborhood hardware store. Then ask yourself what actions you can take to ensure your employees are taking full ownership of delivering your brand’s customer experience.

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, June 12, 7:30 - 10:30, The Tower Club, 8000 Towers Crescent Drive, #1700, Vienna, VA 22182.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf
Sales people, from the dawn of time (okay, I'm exaggerating), have received a bad wrap. The best way to sum it up is "used car salesman." Nothing ticks people off more than disengenous sale people who focus on the sale at the expense of the person.It's unfortunate that a few bad apples have spoiled the barrel.

Well, today I received an email from such a person. Here's the original followed by some commentary.  What do you think?


IRA

I just tried to call you this AM and I thought an email might be easier for you to respond to. Did you know that last week Maryland became the first state to enact a password privacy protection bill going into effect October 2012?  What does this mean to you and to the hundreds of other government contracts here in Maryland? More Compliance!

How do you manage your business and employees day-to-day when increasing levels of compliance are being requested by the State, OFCCP, DOL, DCAA, IRS, etc?  

Resources such as people and technology can help you manage these complicated pieces of your business and Automatic Data Processing with offices in Rockville can potentially assist you.

Please feel free to extend an invitation to me to visit your office; I would be more than happy to share with you some success stories. I have some time this week before the holiday weekend so please contact me with a good time.  

Regards,

William LastName
(###) ### - ####

---------------

Comments and Suggestions follow:

IRA
> Why is my name capitalized? In email William, this is called shouting. Also, where is the punctuation?

I just tried to call you this AM
> Here's the part that really rubbed me the wrong way. No you didn't William. And I know and you know this is manipulative and untrue. Instead, get right to the point which starts with "Did you know."

I thought an email might be easier for you to respond to.
> Bad grammar. And you're presuming you know what is best for me.

Did you know that last week Maryland became the first state to enact a password privacy protection bill going into effect October 2012?  What does this mean to you and to the hundreds of other government contracts here in Maryland? More Compliance!
> Several misspellings/grammar mistakes. Also, did you mean "contractors" vice "contracts?"

Resources such as people and technology can help you manage these complicated pieces of your business and Automatic Data Processing with offices in Rockville can potentially assist you.
> Make "can potentially assist you" active. Improve readability by shortening/rewriting

Please feel free to extend an invitation to me to visit your office
> Passive request...again, convince me you're worth my time.

I would be more than happy to share with you some success stories.
> You missed a huge opportunity here to Wow me with a short success story.

When was the last time you conducted a marketing collateral audit? If I asked you to share samples of your marketing collateral with me, what stories would they tell? What is their purpose? Is it a singular, goal-oriented purpose? Or, are there a variety of purposes – awareness, informational, sales or entertainment?

A sales and marketing best practice is to ensure all of your marketing collateral serves a singular purpose – to advance your prospect’s buying decision process. Collateral designed for any other purpose often ends up distracting your prospect and delaying the buyer's decision-making process. The cost to produce, optimize, store and distribute extraneous marketing collateral can also erode your profitability.

If you are looking to create marketing collateral that drives sales, consider these five tips:
  • Start by understanding your Ideal Client Profile (ICP). Know the characteristics of your target audience and what drivers are motivating them to buy.
  • Keep it simple. Write at the 10th grade level or below. Avoid jargon that may be meaningless to your prospect. Make it easy to read.
  • Engage your audience with a short story. Inspiring stories bring your brand to life and help to build an emotional connection with your prospect.
  • Write with quality. Your written materials are a reflection of your brand and the quality of its products and services.
  • Experience your collateral from their perspective, not yours. Ask your customer-facing salespeople, and a sampling of prospects and customers, to review your marketing collateral. What feelings and actions is it evoking in them?

For more on marketing collateral that advances your prospect’s buying decision process, please see:
• Use Customer Testimonials to Build Trust and Increase Sales
• Every Single Communication Item Tells Your Business Story and Your Brand Story
• Online Marketing: Good Landing Pages Are Easy to Follow

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Is Your Brand Social?

If there is one lesson I’ve learned in Professor Christie Susko’s Social Media Marketing class at The George Washington University this semester, it’s the importance of engaging (vs. interrupting) your followers. Social media is, after all, an interactive conversation between two people. If you're not engaging your followers with follow backs and interactions, then your brand is probably not very social.

Consider the two examples below, both established brands with long track records of success in traditional marketing. Like a surprisingly large number of brands who maintain an online social presence, my own experience with them has been disappointing. I once followed both, mentioned one favorably on two separate occasions, and retweeted a community-service post by the other and yet...no follow back nor interaction from either.

Brand #1: A Regional Food Market Chain
Bio: “The official twitter account for [brand name]. Can’t wait to talk to you!”
Followers: 34,987
Following: 6,352

Brand #2: Consumer Products Manufacturer
Bio: “Touching lives, improving life.”
Followers: 22,909
Following: 982

Using these examples, let me share 4 takeaways for ensuring your brand is social:
• Be authentic – if you say you want to interact with your followers (e.g., “Can’t wait to talk to you”), then follow back and thank your followers for their retweets and mentions.
• Know that social media is incredibly transparent – brands with a disproportionately large number of followers relative to follow backs appear as if they are disinterested in what their followers have to say.
• View social media as a touch point in your customer’s journey – just as you would thank your customers for their purchases, thank and make them feel special for following you.
• Treat all of your followers equally – here at The Chief Storyteller®, we live by the mantra of treating everyone you meet like they’re the next CEO, or your most profitable customer.

Next week, I’ll write about a brand who is doing all of these things amazingly well. In the meantime, please check and see how social some of your favorite brands are. I’m curious to know what you find. 

I was invitied to a National Press Club lunch (thanks Matt, Advocatus Group), to hear Danica Patrick speak. Her topic centered around her history as an Indy Car driver and the now transition to NASCAR.

In the introduction by NPC President Theresa Werner, Werner shared a few interesting facts: a) The first woman to lead an Indianapolis 500; b) the first woman to win an IndyCar series race, and c) the best finish for a woman in an Indianapolis 500 at third place. What I found interesting was how much emphasis everyone was placing on gender--her being a woman--and not how accomplished of a driver she was.

Because...

Danica's message was all about being a great driver first, and oh by the way, I am a woman. She did say that being a woman did indeed accelerate her success and perhaps even was a contributor in her early days because of the media coverage.

Here are a few of her quotes that I thought interesting and insightful.
- “I always wanted to be the first me, not the next somebody else”

- "Let's face it, if someone is different and unique, it's a story"

- "My goal is not to be the best girl. It is to be the best driver"

- When she answered a question about how she selects sponsors, she responded, "Does the brand fit?"

- "It's a whole package deal. So I am going to use the package. I am going to use it for all that I can and all that I am"

 

The NPC provided a nice smile-inducing desert of racing car cookies inscribed with Danica's number 10.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

LinkedIn Hit 150,000,000 Members

LinkedIn grows by leaps and bounds. Yesterday I was curious about the total number of members and noticed 135,000,000. Today I visited and saw, 150,000,000 (see below picture). 

I keep informal and approximate statistics that show over three million new members per month. How's that for growth?

- 2011 August: 120,000,000

- 2011 November:  135,000,000

- 2011 February: 150,000,000

I am honored to be speaking at the local MIT Enterprise Forum® here in the Washington, DC area. Thank you to my good friend Oz from InnoEngineer for setting this event up.

Here is all of the information...

Get Funded - Design and Deliver the Perfect Investor Pitch [Open Workshop Event]
It is imperative to have a clear and concise message that gets prospective investors to say, "Let’s talk!"…especially in today's economy. In this interactive, hands-on workshop, you will learn how to create a powerful, clear message that wows prospective investors. Apply five proven steps taught internationally, to design and deliver the perfect investor pitch. Receive concrete suggestions on your presentation based on individual and partner exercises. Join us as we show you how to transform your ideas into action.

 

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Location: Startup Lab, Johns Hopkins University, DC Campus, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Lower Level, Room 7

Parking:  Central Parking, 1800 Mass. Ave. NW. If you click http://washingtondc.centralparking.com/Washington-DC-1800-Massachusetts-Aven ue-NW-Parking.html you can get a coupon that reduces the cost to $6 after 5:00 PM. Nearest Metro stop is Dupont Circle. 

With increasing numbers of consumers using social media sites like Twitter®, Facebook®, LinkedIn®, YouTube® and Foursquare® to share their experiences of your brand, a new customer-centric paradigm has emerged – Consumer to Consumer, or C2C. In this new model, consumers are influencing other consumers’ perceptions of your brand or product relative to those of your competitors.

Traditional marketing efforts have long focused on the Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) paradigms, where brands typically drove the marketing process with their own positioning strategies and tactics. Prospects and customers would make buying decisions largely on the basis of tightly-controlled content provided by the brand. In those rare instances when buyers insisted on customer references, the brand would provide them.

Enter the world of social media, where consumers freely share their knowledge, impressions and opinions of their experiences of your brand. Unfiltered tweets, posts, updates, videos and check-ins are entered into the public domain, available to anyone with a smartphone, tablet or PC with search engine capability.

The brands that are most successful in this new customer-centric paradigm will be those that find new ways of delivering value to their customers. They will forge strong and enduring relationships with their customers by engaging them when and where they are most receptive – on Twitter®, Facebook®, LinkedIn®, YouTube®, Foursquare® and other social media sites. They will provide their customers with richer experiences, by interacting with them on a more direct basis and inviting them to participate in their marketing efforts in a way that creates shared value for all.

Check out the following posts for more ideas on achieving brand relevance:
• How One Brand Delivered the Unexpected to Create an Unforgettable Customer Experience
• Does Your Brand Have Klout?
• Brand Loyalty Begins at Home…With Your Employees

Are your direct mail pieces targeting increasingly skeptical prospects? Are your prospects demanding transparency and authenticity in your marketing messages? Try using customer testimonials to help establish credibility and increase sales.

Over the holidays, I received a direct mail catalog from REI, a consumers’ cooperative that sells top-brand recreation gear and clothing. The headline on the cover was, “We’ve got great gear. People are talking.” On the inside cover, REI invited readers like me to flip through the catalog to see what “your fellow outdoor enthusiasts had to say.”

 

As a consumer who shares a passion for the outdoors, I immediately felt an immediate connection to the REI customers whose testimonials were featured in the catalog. Brilliant move, I remember thinking.  People like me were actually bragging about REI, the products they sell and their prices:

"REI is the brand I know and trust."  "...Always reliable for good quality and reasonable prices."  "I'm still a fan...because of their commitment to their customers, their products and the environment."  "...Always the top of the line and priced great."   

                    - REI Members (first name and last name initial published in catalog)

Because I saw these testimonials as peer reviews, I found them to be more credible than anything any one at REI – the CEO, members of the Board or even its expert staff – could have told me.  It’s the kind of messaging that helps me to perceive REI as a brand I know and trust...and one I will buy from.

Are your customers saying things about your brand that build trust and increase sales?

Last year I shared my top 50 business storytelling mantras. As I plan for 2012, I always look to my list to light a small fire of inspiration.

As you look through this list, see what applies to your life or what you want to apply. Write your own list of mantras. Whatever you do, make a list (short or long) of your goals and aspirations. Every so often read, revise, and contemplate...

 

Here are the mantras at The Chief Storyteller. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to your business stories. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.

1.    It’s all about them.
2.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
3.    Write to the 10th grade level.
4.    Be memorable.
5.    Use humor if you want to.
6.    Content is king.
7.    Relationships matter.
8.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
9.    Know your elevator speech / elevator pitch / mission statement (core business story).
10.    Ensure your core business story is unified throughout all communication materials.
11.    Your brand story is everything.
12.    Success stories are key to differentiation.
13.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
14.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
15.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
16.    Everything you write, speak, and record online is a business story.
17.    Content first. Design second.
18.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
19.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your employees).
20.    Everyone builds relationships through networking.
21.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
22.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
23.    Blogs are for sharing, educating, and inspiring…not selling.
24.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
25.    Generating genuine interest in your product/service is the first step in building a relationship.
26.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
27.    Write in your authentic voice.
28.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
29.    Words really, really matter.
30.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
31.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
32.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
33.    Speak in headlines.
34.    Write and speak conversationally.
35.    Treat every client like your best client.
36.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.
37.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
38.    Change is a choice.
39.    Deliver on the expected experience.
40.    Create your own success momentum.
41.    Be a student everyday.
42.    Be a deliberate networker.
43.    Be a deliberate communicator.
44.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
45.    Be a mentor.
46.    Be a whole body communicator.
47.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
48.    Inspire Action:  facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
49.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions:  offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.
50.    People are at the heart of every great story.

STAR WARS™: The Old Republic™ officially launched Dec 20th. It is a massive multiplayer online game that has amassed over 100 awards. Here is an excerpt from the launch press release from Electronic Arts.

"A stunning Star Wars universe. Thousands of hours of gameplay. Gripping stories. Engrossing dialogue performed by hundreds of talented voice actors. BioWare, a label of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA), today is proud to turn on the servers for one of the most anticipated games of all time, Star Wars: The Old Republic, winner of over 100 awards from critics around the world. Last night, fans lined up around the block on the eve of launch at retail outlets in New York, Paris, London, Austin and other cities across the world, celebrating the debut of the game with gatherings complete with costumed characters and memorabilia giveaways.

As part of its launch, creative people from EA/BioWare thought up a "Freeze Mob" in New York City's Time Square. About 20 professional actors dueled with light sabers as Sith Lords and Jedi Knights. Then about 100 fans joined in the fun to create a very memorable and unique experience for the impromptu audience. You can view the video on YouTube

I recently found TweepsMap and found it to be a fascinating application. Provide your Twitter name and password, and in less than 30 seconds, you'll have a world-wide view of your Twitter followers.

As I would expect, the majority of my followers are from the United States (~78%). Since I have done programs and consulting in Canada and the UK, I have a higher number of followers, both at about 5%. 

You can switch between a Map and List version with a click of a button.

What does your TweepsMap reveal?

 

Here are three different advertisements from September and October. Each has and is generating signficant exposure on YouTube, from media, and from consumers. The first one is for Sony's PS3, second for French mineral water Contrex, and the third for electro-rapping band LMFAO. Each is telling its story in its own way. What can you take away from these and apply to your own communications?

Sony posted its Playstation PS3 commercial "Michael" on YouTube on 5 October 2011. In less than a month, 9,968,581 have watched the ad. Even more incredible...it got over 3 million views in its first 24 hours. Sony included a caption, "When they tell your story, what will they say?"  Click on the image or here to watch the video on YouTube. The ad features two American soldiers from WWII as they walk carefully through a forrest to a stone building, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. They pay the bouncer, a woman who sort of glares at them, and enter a room. The room turns out to be a bar filled with the favorite PS3 game characters. And the characters are swapping stories about "Michael." Michael turns out to the be "you" the gamer. The ad celebrates more than the great games, it is celebrating the people who play them (and of course buy them). The Deutsch agency out of Los Angeles, California produced the ad.

This is an advertisement from French water company Contrex (click on the image or here to view the YouTube video). It starts off much like a publicity stunt. You see a Paris square then focus in on a big building with a long row of pink exercise bikes out front. Curious women then climb on and begin pedaling. As more women pedal, more pink neon wires light up. The light starts at the stationary bike and shoots forward to the building showing an outline of a very fit, and handsome man. More women get on bikes and a few men. A record starts playing high energy music. The man starts dancing and begins to take off his clothes in a strip-tease like style. The women starting laughing and shouting and pedaling faster. He strips everything off down to his underwear/pants, swirls them around, and repears with a sign "placed" strategically that reads something like "you have just burned 2,000 calories during the exercise."

Everyone laughs and of course, drinks Contrex mineral water, a brand owned by Nestle. One of the benefits Contrex touts is that it helps people lose weight because of its high calcium content. It's innovative, fresh, lively, and entertaining...with a very clear, easy-to-grasp message. The ad was created by the Marcel agency. Launched 2011 Sep 22, in a little over a month, 8,317,346 people have viewed it on YouTube. Contrex has a link to its companion Facebook campaign site.

The music video from LMFAO is called "Sexy and I Know It."  Released on YouTube on 2011 Sep 16, the video has been watched 73,466,296. CAUTION! This video is a bit graphic and quite visual with men in speedos and women in short skirts/tight pants. It has over 218,000 comments. It's #1 on the YouTube 100 count. The band has a well-integrated trans-media messaging platform in  Twitter, iTunes, Internet, YouTube, Storefront, and Facebook. LMFAO is grammy-nominated, electro-rapping band from Los Angeles. This song is from their new album, "Sorry for Party Rocking." Their music is called Party Rock — "unapologetically partying their faces off with hilarious results. The title-track explodes with bastardized R&B grooves mashed up against ‘80s synths, dance-floor pounding beats, and crunk-like rhymes about living the wild life. With ample help from London chanteuse Lauren Bennett and Hollywood producer GoonRock, the following “Party Rock Anthem” makes good on its title with an insta-hit trimmed in flashes of electronics, buoyant beats, and lyrics that celebrate and encourage decadent behavior." (from the iTunes description) (click here to watch on YouTube or the image)

 

 

 

 

 

I had the pleasure of seeing Dan Roam speak at an ASAE Great Idea's Conference. He was fun, kept my attention, and shared some great techniques for turning ideas into pictures.

In the past two months, I have purchased five copies for clients. I thought, "now that's a sign. I should write a quick book review."

Published in 2008, "Back of the Napkin," was Dan's first book. Now it is an international bestseller and according to his website, "the most popular visual-thinking business book of all time." I believe it is such a popular book because it is filled with helpful, illustrative pictures. Most business self-help books contain only a few pictures. Most of Dan's book is pictures. They include walk-throughs, tools, and examples. His whole approach is built on the simple premise that you don't have to be creative or know how to draw. If you can draw stick figures, then you are ready to tackle problem solving with pictures. If you find yourself sometimes at a loss for how to show a problem visually, consider reading Dan's book.

Resources:
- Back of the Napkin website
- Back of the Napkin book site on Amazon
- Back of the Napkin blog
- Change This Manifesto:  The 10 1/2 Commandments of Visual Thinking: The "Lost Chapter" from The Back of the Napkin
- Change This Manifesto:  Found In Translation: The Case for Pictures in Business

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to Differentiate Your Application

College admissions, scholarships, internships and jobs are examples of opportunities that require an application in order to be considered. As part of the application process, some suggest including an optional personal statement describing who you are and how you’ve made an impact in an area of interest to you. If you’re serious about differentiating your application from the rest, make a well-written personal statement a part of every application you submit.

Why?

Your personal statement brings your application to life. Done right, it’s an effective form of business storytelling. It helps make you unforgettable. Where application forms typically include facts and figures (e.g., raised over $_____ to buy school supplies for needy families), personal statements can provide context. Through the power of storytelling, they help you form an emotional connection with your reader. 

A friend of mine, Mike, recently told me about a story he included in his personal statement. He was part of a team who wanted to help provide school supplies to kids and their families who were struggling to make ends meet. Mike used his own money to purchase the supplies at a bulk discount and then proceeded to raise the money he needed.

He made posters alerting his co-workers to his cause. The posters included a photo of a teacher working with a student, a brief explanation of who would benefit and a call to action. He set up a display in the employee lunch room with the supplies he had purchased, prominently displaying larger than life price tags on each item. The display included a lunch box where donors could place their contributions, using the pre-printed forms and envelopes Mike had left for them.

All told, Mike raised more money than he needed to cover his costs. In fact, he later discovered he had raised more money than any other team had raised in the last 5 years.

While his application certainly spoke to Mike’s commitment to helping others, the story he shared in his personal statement helped bring his application to life. It showed his initiative, creativity and drive for success in a way that made him unforgettable to the readers considering his application.

What stories do you have in your personal inventory that might help differentiate your next application?

For more on how to differentiate your application, please see:
- The Personal Storyteller – 3 Tips to Improve Your Communications Skills
- Tell Me About Yourself: How to Wow Your Interviewers
- Before You Make that Call: Use Research to Stand Out from Your Competition
- Highly Connected Group and No One Is Talking

I'm a huge fan of Pandora, the Internet radio listening site. A short time ago I was listening to an "Elmo" (from Sesame Street) station as I had my daughter in the car with me.

At a stop sign, I happened to glance down to my smart phone. I was quite surprised to see the advertisement in the picture below, right side.

I truly appreciate that free radio needs advertising. What I don't understand is that in today's world of powerful programs to analyze data, I would receive an ad for a match making site on a children's radio station.

Article Summary Imagine you have spent the day interviewing. You met senior leaders from every department. Your last interview is with Donald, the CEO. He graciously welcomes you into his office and offers you a seat in a comfortable-looking chair. Donald smiles and starts the same way everyone else did…“Tell me about yourself.” Will your answer impress him? What will happen when Donald compares his notes with the other interviewers? What impression did you make and what will everyone say about you? Your answer to “Tell me about yourself” is the elevator pitch of job hunting. All too often senior executives offer an unrehearsed and uninspiring answer. You can only make one first impression…  [Note, this article was originally written for the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG)

If you have any preferences or requests for topics, contact us by telephone, email, or leave a comment on this blog entry.

To read other articles in The Chief Storyteller Blog, select the category, Articles.

 

Tell Me About Yourself:  How to Wow Your Interviewers
© 2011. The Chief Storyteller®, LLC.
Ira J. Koretsky
May 2011

Imagine you have spent the day interviewing for a position at a major corporation. You met senior leaders from every department. Your last interview is with Donald, the CEO. He graciously welcomes you into his office and offers you a seat in a comfortable-looking chair. Donald smiles and starts the same way everyone else did…“Tell me about yourself.” 

Will your answer impress him? What will happen when Donald compares his notes with the other interviewers? What impression did you make and what will everyone say about you?

Your answer to “Tell me about yourself” is the elevator pitch of job hunting. All too often senior executives offer an unrehearsed and uninspiring answer. You can only make one first impression…

Here are some suggestions for wow-ing your interviewers.

Know Your Audience

Spend quality time researching your prospective company and interviewers. With our challenging current economic situation, it is more important than ever to impress them. It may surprise you how many candidates interviewing for senior leadership positions hurt themselves by not doing the necessary research. Getting to know your audience truly will set you apart.

The insights you glean from the research help you develop a thought-provoking answer that addresses the corporation’s and interviewing team’s goals. You’ll be more memorable while reinforcing your “right fit” (i.e., you did your homework and you want to work here).

Conduct your research as a competitive intelligence analyst. Amass everything you can find about the company and interviewers from the Internet, libraries, and word of mouth.  Search on industry trends, recent decisions, and core products or services.

Great sources of information about the company itself are annual reports, press releases, and articles. Identify at least three of the company’s competitors and perform similar research about them as well. Great sources of information about the interviewers are their biographies, LinkedIn profiles, presentations or interviews they have given, blog postings, and tweets. Be sure to mix in some research on their personal side such as education and hobbies. 

Promise a Better Tomorrow 

Make your audience understand that, by hiring you, you are going to help them build a better future. Companies hire potential. They will hire you for your potential to make a major impact on their business. For example, you will grow the company’s revenue, increase market awareness, and improve brand recognition. Isn’t this why you are being considered? Your answer sets the framework for everything else you communicate in the interview. Above all, avoid reciting your chronological biography.

Your answer should pique your interviewer’s interest. It is an executive summary of your relevant professional and personal accomplishments. Donald and the entire interviewing team are thinking, “Will you be able to repeat and exceed your successes for us?” 

Start with a powerful headline. Think about it:  in any advertisement or article, a juicy headline is what draws the audience in. Elmer Wheeler, father of the mantra “Sell the sizzle, not the steak, observed, “Your first 10 words are more important than your next 10,000.” 

What is your headline? Some examples include “I have been building great brands for 25 years,” “I have a track record of improving revenue dramatically,” and “I have positioned two start-up companies for explosive growth” (read How to Write a Resume Summary that Gets Interviews to learn more about crafting your headline).

Customize, Always

Customize your answer for each position and each company. Each company is different. Each position is different. Keep your answer consistent with the other elements of your professional image (e.g., resume and LinkedIn profile). If your interviews are not leading to job offers, it is time to tweak your answer. Be methodical. Write and rewrite. A fresh perspective is often helpful. Seek out mentors, friends, and colleagues for their frank feedback. Next time you are asked, “Tell me about yourself,” how will you respond?

-----

Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better business outcomes and accelerate their revenue with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communications. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, columnist, consultant, and executive coach. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn®, and YouTube.

 

The Chief Storyteller received an unsolicited employment inquiry. I wanted to share it with you as it is all to common place receiving this kind of generic, uninspiring letter.  Suggestions follow the excerpt.

Here's how the email letter started from G.E. (name withheld):

Subject:  Job opportunities

Greetings,

I am inquiring about full time positions you may have available in the area of marketing, communications or public relations.

In my experience as a marketing professional I have had the opportunity to oversee and implement the marketing, advertising and communications strategies for a software firm serving nonprofit agencies.

-------------------------

Tailor! Whether you are in high school or 65 years old, tailor your cover letter and resume...every time. Here are some comments and suggestions for current and future job seekers.

Comments & Suggestions:

- Use a compelling email subject headline. And tailor it to the position, person, and company where possible.

- Personalize the salutation (red flag #1). My name, picture, and background are easily found on the website. Within one minute or less, GE could have discovered the information and included it in the cover letter. This omission communicates to the reader, "I did absolutely no research on your firm."

- I am inquiring about full time positions you may have available in the area of marketing, communications or public relations.  Good job in getting right to the point of the letter.

- Attach resume as a PDF. GE attached the resume as a .docx. GE makes the assumption we have Microsoft products to read the newer version. Additionally, PDF ensures the original formatting components (page layout, font, spacing, styles, etc.) are maintained as you designed the resume. 

- Personalize the text.  GE writes that his previous applicable experience was at a "software firm." This is red flag #2. The Chief Storyteller is a communications/marketing firm. Throughout GE's entire letter, there are no mentions of The Chief Storyteller, what we do, or how GE can help us achieve our goals.

- Include a call-to-action.  At the end of your letter, write specifically when you will follow up with a telephone call.

 

It is obvious from word one that GE submitted a mass, generic cover letter and resume. In today's challenging economic climate, it is imperative for you to stand out. The only way to stand out is to do your homework and tailor every single communications in your career tool belt.

Yesterday I came across an interesting blog posting "The Pull of Narrative – In Search of Persistent Context." It was an interesting and thought provoking piece on the concept of narrative and why it is better than storytelling. This excerpt does a pretty good job of capturing John Hagel's sentiment. Below the excerpt is my comment.

Excerpt:  Stories and narratives are often used interchangeably, as synonyms.  But here I will draw a crucial distinction between the two.  Narratives, at least in the way I will be using them, are stories that do not end – they persist indefinitely. They invite, even demand, action by participants and they reach out to embrace as many participants as possible. They are continuously unfolding, being shaped and filled in by the participants.  In this way, they amplify the dynamic component of stories, both in terms of time and scope of participation. Stories are about plots and action while narratives are about people and potential.

-------------------------

John,

Just came across your posting. Your article is interesting and thought provoking. After reading it, I do not agree that narrative is different from storytelling.

My focus is storytelling as part of making your professional and personal communications unforgettable. Every single thing you say, write, or post online is a story. 

For this to work, the "effect" of the story has to persist long after the story is read or heard.

It is funny for me to say this, when I was in college, I was repeatedly told that the soft skills were less important…I came to believe it. How shortsighted that thinking was. And unfortunately, it is ubiquitous worldwide.

It is an easy laugh to say public speaking is the number one fear. There are more than 20 phobias associated with communicating. Life in and of itself is not the best teacher for communication. Most students who graduate high school, college, and to some extent graduate school are not truly prepared for the professional world in terms of communication. They have the skills to be excellent in his/her profession. 

I learned from working in a hospital years ago a nursing adage:  see one, do one, teach one.Rather than redefine or move people to rethink narrative over story, I'd strongly suggest providing people with the know-how (e.g., tools, templates, examples, and case studies) to be great storytellers--to be great communicators. 


Ira Koretsky
The Chief Storyteller
www.TheChiefStoryteller.com/blog

One of our readers sent me a link to a blog posting, "Tell Me About Yourself: Tips To Answer this Tough Interview Question." 

The author's first point, "Start with your name," is what caused me to leave the following comment on the blog post. The author states that it is not a loaded question. I absolutely disagree. Here's the text from the point followed by my comments with suggestions.

"Start with your name:  A no-brainer, many job seekers panic right off the bat by incorrectly assuming the interviewer asked a loaded question. In reality, the interviewer just wants to see how well you can sell yourself. Just state your name and feel free to include a line or two about your passions and hobbies – but don’t overdo it. You need to pace yourself and save precious monologue time for significant details regarding your career. Your total answer should be short and complete."

My comments left on the Recruit.com blog:

I firmly believe “So, tell me about yourself” is the most important question in an interview. It is absolutely “loaded.” It is sooo much more than “see how well you can sell yourself.” It is your first and only chance to set the tone and energy of the interview. It is your elevator speech of interviewing. Demonstrate you did your research and show you are the best candidate for the position in less than three minutes. 

I disagree with points...

- "Start with your name" (it is on your resume and you’ve already introduced yourself in a greeting with a warm handshake and smile. Start with a headline, a grabber, whet the interviewer’s mental appetite)

- "Follow up with your background" (it is on your resume. Tell a story weaving in key aspects and a success story relevant to the prospective organization)

- "Turn the question on them" (Absolutely not. This is classic human behavior. The interviewer asked you a question. He/she expects you to answer it. Leave your questions for later in the interview).

I agree with points Relate it to the position and Avoid overexposure. 

In general, your answer is a personal success story that has a compelling opening (think headline or personal executive summary), interesting facts weaved into an engaging story, and conclusion (that clearly demonstrates you will be an excellent hire). It should be three minutes or less. It must set the stage for the rest of the interview. Intrigue from word one.

LinkedIn recently updated its About Us Page when it jumped from 100 to 120 million members.

Here is the text copied from the provided link. It has some very interesting facts.

Company Background
- LinkedIn started out in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman in 2002.
- The site officially launched on May 5, 2003. At the end of the first month in operation, LinkedIn had a total of 4,500 members in the network.
- As of June 30, 2011 (the end of the second quarter), professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate that is faster than two new members per second.
- The company is publicly held and has a diversified business model with revenues coming from hiring solutions, marketing solutions and premium subscriptions.

LinkedIn Facts
- As of August 4, 2011, LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 120 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
- More than half of LinkedIn members are currently located outside of the United States.
- There were nearly two billion people searches on LinkedIn in 2010.
- Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., LinkedIn also has U.S. offices in Chicago, New York, Omaha and San Francisco. International LinkedIn offices are located in Amsterdam, Bangalore, Delhi, Dublin, London, Melbourne, Mumbai, Paris, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney and Toronto.
- The company’s management team is comprised of seasoned executives from companies like Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, TiVo, PayPal and Electronic Arts. The CEO of LinkedIn is Jeff Weiner.
- LinkedIn is currently available in nine languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Turkish and Romanian.
- As of June 30, 2011 (the end of the second quarter), LinkedIn has 1,515 full-time employees located all around the globe. LinkedIn started off 2011 with about 1,000 full-time employees located all around the globe, up from around 500 at the beginning of 2010.

Worldwide Membership
- 120m+ professionals around the world as of August 4, 2011
- 26m+ members in Europe
- 6m+ members in the UK
- 2m+ members in France
- 2m+ members in the Netherlands
- 2m+ members in Italy
- 1m+ members in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland)
- 1m+ members in Spain
- 10m+ members in India
- 4m+ members in Canada
- 4m+ members in Brazil
- 2m+ members in Australia
- As of June 30, 2011 (the end of the second quarter), LinkedIn counts more than 6.5 million students and 9 million recent college graduates* around the world as members (*LinkedIn defines recent graduates as members who graduated between 2008 and 2011)

LinkedIn and Business
- As of June 30, 2011 (the end of the second quarter), LinkedIn counts executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies as members; its corporate hiring solutions are used by 75 of the Fortune 100 companies.
- More than 2 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages.
- LinkedIn represents a valuable demographic for marketers with an affluent & influential membership.
- Thousands of developers are using LinkedIn APIs to create innovative tools and services for professionals.

Thirty speakers. Sixty minutes. One challenge. This is how an upcoming web seminar is describing itself. You have to do the math to appreciate the impact. Each speaker has two minutes to present his/her topic. Just two minutes.

I'm verrrry curious and intrigued to watch and evaluate the messages. I use a variety of workshop program evaluators, some of which are complementary and similar. I'll be looking to see if the program was: 

1. Valuable:  Did the suggestions, resources, references, etc. offer unique ideas I can't find elsewhere?

2. Simple:  Did I quickly understand the messages, supporting facts, and suggestions?

3. Useable:  Could I see myself, partners, staff, clients using the information? (Complementary to #4)

4. Actionable:  Could I use some of the information today, immediately? I always suggest ~80% today and ~20% tomorrow (strategic) content for educational programs (Complementary to #3)

5. Practical:  Were the suggestions, ideas, questions, and exercises appropriate for the intended audience in terms of prior-knowledge and expectations?

6. As Expected:  Did the speakers deliver the "Expected Experience." I was inspired to act, entertained to keep my attention, and educated to learn ensuring I left knowing more than before.

7. Described Well:  Were the program objectives easy to understand and was the write-up compelling?

8. Interactive:  Did the speakers include exercises, thought-provoking questions, and/or thought-provoking imagery?

9. Pacing:  Did the speakers talk at a conversational, easy-to-follow pace?

10. Amount:  Did the speakers cram too much information into the program or was the amount of information just right?

 

Here's the write-up from the site. Register here.

As a marketing decision-maker, your job becomes more complex–and challenging–each day. New channels and platforms emerge continuously. So, what are the most effective ways to plan and launch an integrated, multi-channel marketing campaign today?

Join us as we bring together 30 marketing leaders to each share their best ideas for leveraging email, mobile, social, paid media, analytics, and more to build your brand and business. In just 60 minutes, you’ll hear from leaders like Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, and Brian Solis, and brands including IBM, American Express, Pandora, Coca-Cola, Kayak, and more.

It all starts on July 28 at 1pm ET (10am PT/6pm BST). You’ll discover the story of Sarah DeLash, our fictional senior marketer who’s endeavoring to transform her company from an outdated, industrial-era corporation to a modern, relevant, socially conscious brand.

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, July 26, 8:30 - 11:30, Fairview Park Marriott Hotel, 3111 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042.

*** We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf
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