Monthly Archives: September 2013

Does your business attire make a big difference to your career success?

Dress for successI’ve had this conversation with a few friends and colleagues. Generally we agree that capability should define career success and that “man or woman make the clothes”, clothes do not make the person and when judging the (wo)man we should always look beyond the clothes to the inner person. It’ll pay dividends!

However, we always come to the same conclusion: people judge you based on your looks, people judge you before you even open your mouth.

That may sound superficial but it’s the truth. This truth also varies by culture and work environment or sector. Your attire makes you feel different, it can make you more confident, or less confident and in turn this can impact your mood, your relationships at work, your posture, mind-set and career success.

Have you ever turned up to an interview tired in an outfit that you’re not too comfortable in and felt unconfident because of it? I’ve heard people say “He or she only got the promotion because of the way they dress”. I’ve heard of lost business deals based on appearance amongst other factors like lack of preparation. I’ve had people take a sneaky glimpse at my shoes during business meetings and my accessories. Politicians have lost elections in history based on appearance.

Newsflash: you are not Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, or Steve Jobs, the late former CEO of Apple – you cannot turn up to work in a t-shirt, or hoodie and jeans everyday, even these looks portray an image; one that shows a techie start-up transformed into a multi million dollar company by a laid back techie entrepreneur. Steve Jobs knew more than anyone that design and appearance matter. Take a look at the iPhone design and the famous white headphones. He insisted on designing the cover of his autobiography.

Dressing for success doesn’t mean you need spend a fortune on designer clothing, private tailors, or brand names, it means choosing to dress smarter; professionally, investing in a few nice suits, ties and shoes and making sure your clothes are well pressed, your shoes are polished; that your outfit matches and so do your accessories.

It means you don’t always “dress down” regardless of the casual dress code in your working environment and that you make an effort regardless of the fact that you manage a hectic home life and work so  hard that your added value should be apparent.

Or, if you insist your work environment is “dress down” or casual, keep it fashionable, trendy and experiment with different colours and styles – you can still convey a lot about yourself in a casual environment.

Image

Brand guidelines and protection play a huge role in marketing and in creating a product or company’s image. Companies will go to huge lengths to protect their brand images, brands can be built to be worth millions, if not billions of dollars in value, and in short, you’re worth more! You too have an image and you convey a message, not saying you should be fake or advocating that you  become image obsessed and start posting “selfies” to Instagram daily, but be conscious of your fashion and clothes.

• Confidence

Clothing as well as your personal grooming have huge impacts on how you feel and on your confidence and how you carry yourself.

• Individuality

You should maintain individuality with your attire; aim to be your best self! Take time in the morning or at night before work to select clothes that say you’re  professional, that suit you and make you feel and look sharp – dress for success in your industry. Even colours work differently with different skin tones.

• Get organised

It helps to organise your wardrobe and to make sure clothes are matched and pressed in advance, it takes the stress out of finding a suitable outfit in the morning, provides variety and makes it easier to maintain good appearance.

Experiment with your work attire, dress up, wear a suit when you feel it’s appropriate, or dress up your casual attire so it’s “smarter casual”, review the latest fashions, that work for you and your individual style, and see how you feel and how people react to you in certain situations.

If you’re not confident in your work, if you don’t excel at what you do or if you’re not in the right career, well-pressed, smart, fashionable, trendy clothing and polished or nice shoes alone will not carry you very far and true confidence comes from within, however; a combination of great work, healthy self-esteem and good-looking attire can make a significant difference to your career success.

Your thoughts? Would you agree?

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Categories: Business | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating an engaging Facebook community from scratch in 10 steps

Facebook

A Facebook page can be powerful! There are millions of global active Facebook users checking their accounts daily, which gives you great reach as a marketer. A Facebook Page can help build closer relationships with your audience, engage prospects, create sales leads, build awareness for your cause and brand/product.

Before deciding to create a page, establish who your target audience is and whether or not they actually use Facebook, a great resource to research this is socialbakers.com

You’ll also need to determine what your objectives or goals for the page are and how you’ll measure results – there are some useful metrics in step 10.

Ultimately you want to create a community i.e target a specific group of people with similar interests and give them a platform to discuss ideas and to engage with you and each other.

Now, how do you go about creating an engaging community and gaining fans from scratch?

1) Information, cover image and profile picture

Your page’s profile picture appears on your followers’ news feeds and in sponsored stories, so use an official logo or another image, perhaps one of you, that instantly connects to your brand. Your cover image is also key “real estate” and communicates about your brand/cause, use it for that purpose. Fans will check the cover image and the “About section” when considering liking a page, so make it compelling and give people a chance to learn about your page quickly.

2) Publicise

An owner of a page and admins can share the page with personal contacts; go to “Build audience” and invite email contacts, “friends” or share your page on your personal profile.

Ideally you want to invite relevant fans only, i.e. people who will find your content valuable and share your common interest and engage with your page, aim for quality rather than quantity, although ultimately you do need a large enough number of fans to have a community and to reach your goals of awareness.

Promote your page on other social networking sites that are relevant to your target audience like Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ and link to your page from your personal or company blog and website.

Adding your Facebook address to your email signature is also a way to grow targeted fans as well as offline collateral, like event material. You can use QR codes on your business cards to promote your page, however, it’s also a good idea to promote the page name/ url as QR codes aren’t popular with everyone.

Alternatively, if you have obtained opt in email addresses through your blog, marketing events, website etc. email targeted contacts asking them to join your page.

Another idea is to cross promote your page with page managers who have similar interests who can mutually benefit from promoting your page and vice versa.

3) Understand your fans, really get to know them

Once you start to get fans, do as much as you can to understand them and what content they like to engage with, the best way to do this is to ask questions and encourage conversation. You’ll be surprised how many people are happy to answer questions, respond to polls and engage. Facebook is a two-way channel, don’t only use it to broadcast.

4) Content is king!

Be real – go beyond your corporate goals. Share stuff that engages your audience, don’t just use your page to promote your campaigns or promotions in a sporadic manner, that’s BORING! Form relationships, just as you would with your personal profile. Don’t forget people who use Facebook are human and are looking for relevant but engaging, fun, compelling, informative content, exclusive benefits and interaction, not just to be sold to.

Be original and use a natural tone of voice also have some policies in place, i.e. no political updates, swearing etc.

Editorial calendar – Be consistent,  To  organise content and to create a schedule for posts create an  editorial calendar.  Fans will begin to know what to expect and it means you wont be shouting and sending out random messages.

When people share your posts, comment on them or like content, your brand/ page name is shared with fan’s friends and who may also find your content relevant and share or like your page. Therefore the more relevant and compelling the content you provide, the more it gets shared and spread across the social network.

Get visual. Using imagery is a powerful way to communicate, so use powerful, engaging, ORIGINAL, relevant or funny images – and ensure they’re high quality.

If customers or prospects attend one of your offline events take photos of them and share them on your page, this gets people more engaged, again if they share their pictures on their profiles your page name or brand follows.

Experiment with your posts, test out different content and media, including video, review which posts get the highest interaction “engagement” and improve your “talking bout this score”.

A lot of page owners run competitions using third-party apps to engage followers, this is an idea you can try out to increase engagement and fans.

Facebook has recently introduced the use of #Hashtags. Hashtags turn text into clickable links in your posts. This helps people, who aren’t necessarily fans, to find posts about topics they’re interested in, similar to how it works on Twitter, look for hashtags related to your topic and use them in posts e.g I’ll use #FaceBookMarketing #FaceBookTips.

Research has shown that people like positive stories on Facebook and so the old adage that “bad news sells” isn’t necessarily true with Facebook. Keep it positive!

5) Find complementary Facebook Pages

Find complementary Facebook pages and like them as your Page, then watch your page home feed and comment thoughtfully on the posts and share valuable content on your page, providing it’s not competitor information, again this gets your brand or page name out there and can get you relevant followers.

6) Incite comments and listen

Ask your fans questions, use polls, again engaging, thought-provoking posts can get you those comments. This will impact your “Edge Rank” score; Edge Rank is Facebook’s “algorithm” and determines whether or not your posts appear in fans’ newsfeeds. You should spend some time learning about Edge Rank and you should spend a lot of time listening to your fans i.e. reading what they write about on your own and competitors’ pages. Social media is an interactive channel, learn!

7) Paid Ads and sponsored stories

You can advertise your page targeting people based on interests, location, gender, age, education, language and more, if you chose to use “sponsored stories” when advertising, which I highly recommend, friends of people interacting with your page, because of these ads, will get to see these interactions.

8) Be Consistent, post frequently

Don’t let your page die, so many page owners do. Keep content fresh, relevant and updated. This is an effort, either hire someone who’s passionate, or be passionate, remember you could potentially be reaching thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people in your target audience for a low-cost.

Some proponents advise to post between 1-5 times per day. You don’t want to inundate followers with posts and so it’s advisable to start with perhaps one to two posts a day, reviewing interaction and feedback and taking it from there. This doesn’t mean you need to waste endless hours in front of Facebook; you can schedule posts in advance, which Facebook allows you to do, or use a tool like HootSuite to schedule posts. You should also take the time to respond to fans in real-time and to post in real-time, remembering your fans are human and that you should be aiming to form relationships.

Know the best time to post and when the best “traffic window” is available, this depends on your time zone/s and target audience. Again, this will determine whether or not fans see your posts, you can check this out with “Facebook insights”.

9) Link to your website/blog/ e-commerce site

Link to your website, landing pages, with special offers and use Facebook for commercial purposes once in a while if that’s the purpose of your page. Your blog may be the “hub” of all of your social media efforts, or to your company website or sales landing page. Don’t sell too often; that’s not why fans interact with your page.

10) Monitor and measure

Get familiar with “Facebook Insights”, Insights provide measurements on your page’s performance; demographic information about your audience and shows how people are discovering and responding to your posts.

At the start of this article I stated you should have goals. If you’re measuring awareness, review the number of fans you have and growth, if you’re aiming to improve brand consideration, you really want to work on interaction and comments, likewise for market research. Ultimately, if you’re looking for sales, you should measure traffic to your website, enquiries or conversions made through your Facebook page and via the contact number or email.

Although I’ve been consulting for various Facebook brand pages for a while and follow over a hundred pages (not all of which have updates that appear in my news feed), I’ve just started my own personal/consultantcy Facebook page, if you like what you’ve just read, please join my page for more content and posts like this and feel free to share the page.

Categories: Facebook, Social Media | Leave a comment

Africa, one continent many worlds

Image

It’s been a while since my last post, apologies, testing times in Egypt plus I was focusing on my fast during Ramadan, more recently, I was in South Africa! I usually reside in Egypt and went to discover South Africa’s magic.

Africa is not one big poverty-ridden continent, contrary to some perceptions and images portrayed by some media outlets, the image of the starving child and disease is not representative of all countries, yes, there are poor countries, however, many are abundant in natural resources like gold, gas, petroleum and minerals.  As well natural resources, these countries benefit from tourism and have a host of developing diverse industries e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, banking and telecommunications. The World Cup was hosted in South Africa in 2010, boosting its profile as a tourist destination, the government also invested in local infrastructure to accommodate, impacting the local economy and jobs, for example construction.

Countries also benefit from access to global capital markets and receive foreign direct investment which aids growth. The BRIC is forming strong economic ties with Africa, particularly China.

Many countries in Africa have large populations, e.g. Egypt has a population of approximately 85 to 90 million, which forms a large domestic market, this includes a large pool of well-educated youth and rising middle classes as a result of economic success.

Africa consists of 54 independent countries and understanding the continent or individual countries is not a simple task, it requires research, exposure and business experience. North Africa and South Africa, albeit on the same continent, are worlds apart. They’re different in terms of ethnicities, culture, traditions, languages, religion, history, politics and business opportunities. I cannot stress how important it is that businesses and marketers recognise each country in Africa as unique and as individual markets.

Various countries in Africa are up and coming, as a result of political stability, reform, privatization, openness to trade and investment. Some countris in North Africa have recently become unstable post the “Arab Spring” however, these countries are eager to regain stability, attract tourism and continue to grow economically, political stability, however, is a prerequisite, hopefully this is a short-lived transitional stage. Countries in North Africa must also be regarded as unique markets and what’s currently occurring in Egypt does not represent what’s happening in neighbouring markets. Also, the global mass media can exaggerate the situation on the ground, after all bad news sells.

Businesses, in developed markets, are looking for growth from countries in Africa, in the face of tough competition in home markets; African markets can offer good return or investment, new customers and clients.

Segmentation:

It’s key that any international marketing strategy treats each stand-alone market with a unique approach, this begins  with marketing segmentation. The countries in Africa cannot be clumped into one region or market. There are less developed countries in the region as well as more advanced countries in terms of: living standards, consumer demands, business maturity, expertise and levels of sophistication in Internet marketing, for example.

In my book, I discuss the market attractiveness model, which helps business strategists and decisions markers to segment regions, to classify countries, markets and industries according to business attractiveness vs. a businesses’ own capabilities in doing business in these market.

When I worked for Cisco 2012, we classed South Africa as an “A” market, it was a key market for  business growth  in the region, Nigeria and Egypt were classed as “B” markets, at the time. These were considered attractive for various reasons, e.g. wealth, natural resources, ease of doing business, growth rates  in GDP, stability and various other positive business and economic factors.

This segmentation determined marketing investment, budget allocation and resources in terms of teams and dedication. Other markets in the region were classed as C markets, or tertiary and treated accordingly.

Each business experience will be different as well as the ROI, sales and growth.

Targeting and business models:

Once the individual markets/ countries have been segmented, the next decision is to decide which countries to operate in i.e. the target markets, and how to do business with these markets i.e. export, partnering or e-commerce.  This is where the investment commences and implementation takes part.

Localisation: 

This is perhaps my favourite topic, perhaps because I’m a bit of a traveller and different cultures inspire me. Marketing strategy and communications need to be tailored to local markets, products and solutions need to meet local pain points and marketing needs.

Ethnicities, cultures and needs are starkly different from north to south and this should be reflected in marketing campaigns, creative and communications. The look and feel of communications and languages will differ completely. In the continent, major business languages include French, Arabic, English and Portuguese, of course using the wrong business language in marketing communications has huge implications for business results.

Egypt is predominantly a Muslim country which also has an impact on marketing and sensitivity,  the main religion in South Africa is Christianity, in Islam alcohol is prohibited, although it’s available in Egypt and accessible, this for example may be a consideration when doing business with the market, i.e. it may not be acceptable to serve alcohol at an event.

The wonderful Internet:

Social media is booming in the region, again each individual market has its own popular network/s, in Egypt and South Africa alike, Facebook and Twitter are popular. In general, growth in Internet penetration in the region and certain markets has accelerated in recent years due to investment in infrastructure and wireless. This is a new means to reach new markets and to test tailored, localised campaigns easily in comparison to offline. Social media has been instrumental in the communication during social uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, having a well-defined and planned social media strategy can help to establish brand awareness; build a contact database and to establish sales or generate leads.

Using the internet to reach markets in Africa is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, including the well-known benefits of digital, which I need not write about here, one major benefit is that it’s more reliable than traditional direct marketing, for example, the postal infrastructure in Egypt is less developed in relation to western markets and therefore you can count on an email arriving over a piece of direct mail.

The benefits are also that you can test messages and localised campaigns and track responses and receptiveness from local individual markets at low-cost.

The Internet is a strong marketing tool, however, it’s important to combine it with other media channels which to an extent depends on the demographic or fimographic.

Doing business in international and emerging markets is not easy, there’s a lot to be learnt, each market is unique and requires dedicated investment in terms of resources, there is a high level of risk, however, rewards can be high. As I mention in all my articles, learning is key and partnering with knowledgeable local businesses is invaluable.

Thoughts and prayers for Egypt as it currently goes through its political growing pains and here’s to a prosperous future.

Categories: Emerging Markets, Global Marketing, Localisation | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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