December 22, 2008

Move Beyond "Tell Them Thrice"

People don't believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them.
They often believe what their friends tell them.
They always believe what they tell themselves.
--- Seth Godin

Here's a classic presentation structure:
  1. Tell them what you're going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.
You probably already do. Instinctively. What if your audience isn't all ears?

Improving Results
Here's a better way
  1. Tell them why it's important to them.
  2. Tell them how they should feel about it.
Intriguing. This idea comes from Frank Maselli in Seminars: The Emotional Dynamic. This book (which appears to be out of print) is packed with gems. I'm reading carefully and planning to incorporate many ideas. As usual, I'll share what works.

Other Books
When the going gets tough, the tough get rowing.

2009 looks like a tough year for our clients and us. To row against the current, we need to strengthen our muscles and improve our techniques. We'll then make progress rather than drift backwards.

Here are other books waiting eagerly on my bookshelf to help us.

Can't Put Down
  1. Dan Kennedy - No B.S. Sales Success
  2. Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers: The Story of Success
Planning To Read
  1. Stephan Schiffman - Sales Presentation Techniques
  2. Paul Leroux and Peg Corwin - Visual Selling
  3. Alice Schroeder - The Snowball: Warren Buffett And The Business Of Life
Planning To Re-read To Extract Snippets (all recommended)
  1. Chris Anderson - The Long Tail: Why The Future Of Business Is Selling Less Of More
  2. Seth Godin (editor) - The Big Moo (33 authors): Stop Trying To Be Perfect And Start Being Remarkable
  3. Seth Godin - Free Prize Inside
  4. Seth Godin - Permission Marketing
This is my last post of 2008. Thank you, dear readers, for your precious attention.

All the best to you and yours during the holidays.
May your 2009 be really fine!

December 15, 2008

Marketing With Video: Learn From An Amateur

We get bored easily. Movement creates interest. Sound creates interest. Yet few advisors use video. Here's how you can.
Disclaimer: I'm new to video and don't even have a video camera. Some steps may be "obvious"  and you may have better ideas. 
Here's what you need to make a video
  • equipment
  • script
  • video host
If you're in a large organization, you may have access to high quality equipment and experts to use it. If not, you can get equipped for a few hundred dollars. I started with the webcam in my notebook computer. The results were not good enough. I thought this was due to lighting. So I upgraded my ceiling lights to 250W of bright halogen power (five 50W bulbs). This helped but not enough.

Next, I explored external webcams. I settled on the high-end Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000. It works better but not quite the way I want. Sometimes the audio and video get out of sync, especially with inadequate lighting. I'm getting reasonable results at 320x240 pixels and 30 frames per second. However, I'd like to record at 640x480 eventually. 

For video editing, I used Camtasia Studio 6. I started using it a couple of months ago to turn PowerPoint presentations into video and do basic editing. I haven't officially released a recording  since I'm facing challenges with corporate firewalls (see post).

I love audio. That means I hate webcam sound. There was always noise in the background. Attempts to remove it degraded the quality. I researched USB microphones and and eventually settled on the Samson C03U Podcasting Pak. The results are amazing, even by my exacting standards. The mic works beautifully with productivity-boosting speech recognition too,

Can you express yourself articulately and succintly without practice. I can't. So I wrote a script which I printed in a large font and placed beside the webcam. I tried reading it like a talking head on TV. Since I don't have a teleprompter, my eyes wandered down the page. This was visible in the recording and looked unnatural. Much better to look straight at the camera.

What to do? I memorized the key parts of the script and then recorded myself. Again and again. So much can go wrong with video. You need an uncluttered background --- a hassle if you're untidy like me. Your wardrobe matters. Your phone or doorbell can ring at the wrong time. Your family can barge in. 

Watching yourself can be painful. Do I look/sound like that? Actuaries are considered dull and I easily met that standard. The result was boring. I re-recorded with more energy and a faster tempo. This felt forced but the results finally looked good enough to publish.

Video Host
There are lots of places to host your videos. I picked YouTube for the sake of convenience. Here's the result, an introduction for this blog. 

(If you don't see anything, your corporate firewall is probably interfering.)

Video opens a new world of marketing possibilities for you and is relatively easy to use. Even for absolute beginners. There's still time to ask Santa for equipment and you can practice during the holidays.


December 10, 2008

Creativity vs Control: Beating Your Larger Competitors

Our distrust is very expensive.
--- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm behind a corporate firewall attempting to access websites. I say "attempting" because so many family-friendly sites are blocked. A subversive actuary?

Here are some forbidden sites:
  • I've been experimenting with ways to share my presentations with you by storing HD video, MP3 audio, PowerPoints and PDFs (worked last week)
  • another site for hosting PowerPoints
  • an excellent way to market yourself if you don't have a website (see post)
  • where Google hosts this blog
  • where Google stores the family-friendly images used on this blog
  • another experiment to help you (also Google-owned)
Why Block Access?
The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.
--- Henry Stimson
Why trust employees when you can block them instead? Naturally, there are good corporate reasons for controls, especially in financial institutions. We won't debate them here. We'll look at how you benefit instead.

There are apparently ways to bypass corporate control with proxies but this risky. You can probably be tracked. How would you justify your actions? I can't tell you what's involved because those sites are also blocked ...

These solutions are easier:
  • do your creative work from home
  • go to a coffee shop with free Internet access
  • use your own mobile broadband Internet, which has other advantages (see post)
To safeguard data, some organizations will even
  • disable USB flash drives
  • install CD/DVD drives that read but not write information
Again, there are good reasons for this. Again, there are workarounds like emailing files (e.g., through Google Mail, which allows attachments up to 20 MB) or taking printouts. If you don't have a corporate IT department, you may not have known that your competitors in larger organizations face restrictions.

How You Benefit
Think of what imposed controls mean: you have a competitive advantage against your larger competitors. You can send your clients timely links that competitors can't even access. You can create an interesting recording (video or audio) describing your services and place it online for prospects to find and share. This can warm them up enough to contact you. What can your competitors do? They've been locked out of large, popular parts of the Internet.

In The Meantime
In the meantime, I'll look for places where you can access the stuff I'm posting to help you increase your revenue. I've got new ideas. You know how subversives are.

Did you hear that knock at the door. Gotta go. Might be the authorities. Here to offer me unfettered Internet access ... in prison.