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Friday, December 31, 2010

Focus your Brand some more

This is coming on the last day of 2010, and it is to remind you that the only way you can have a powerful personal brand, one that can break through the clutter in 2011, is to streamline and differentiate.
It is said that, “it is not good to be jack of all trade and master of none”. And it is true. The world we now live in is getting busier, with so many things to take people’s attention, so if you are going to get noticed and patronised; then you really must be DIFFERENT, I mean, aggressively different

As much as I advocate that people should endeavour to develop as many of their talents as possible, I also advise that you have to focus on one thing you can do very well, something you do excellently while having fun. Make it your niche and master it, then the other talents can supplement at some points.
Therefore, one of your New Year resolution or strategy should be to streamline your involvements and commitments. Focus on the important things, and do the less important when you have spare time.
Categorize all your endeavours into majors and minors. And decide to brutally ensure that a minor does not take the time of a major.
This does not mean you should condemn yourself to a life devoid of fun. No. You must learn how to have fun while being productive. For me, rest is one of my major. I’m going to really plan to rest more but quite strategically.
Focus, focus, focus; must be your theme in 2011.
Thanks for being there.
Have a wonderful, business-full, profit-full, client-full, New Year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Developing your effective written communication

Writing can be quite a task. And many do not realize this until they have to write.

I’ve seen a lot of corporate executives struggle with writing memos, proposals, and reports. The problem most of the time is how to put the information they have together to make complete and coherent sense as well as achieve their intent.

With this post, I want to put across some tips and steps you can implement to succeed with all your written communications.


It is essential that you prepare properly before taking up a pen to write or typing the first word on your computer, especially for a business communication. This is the first step.
- At this stage, you determine exactly what you want to achieve with that email, or memo, or proposal. When the purpose is clearly define, the idea-flow will be coordinated, saving you time and stress.
- The next thing is to assess your reader[s]. This will help you to avoid using words and grammatical constructions that are above their head or confusing to them.
- Then, determine the scope of your coverage of the subject. You need to know where to stop so that you do not include useless facts in your write-up.


When you are done preparing, it is then time to go fetch the information that will make up your write-up. This may include putting down the facts you know; interviewing people; checking printed sources; and browsing the Internet.


After gathering enough information, you have to organise them in a way that will be comprehensible by the reader. Here you decide what method of development best suits the purpose of your article. For example, if you are writing the history of your organisation, you might have to make it sequential, starting from the beginning to the present. Other methods of development include: comparison, cause and effect, division and classification, spatial, chronological, etc.

Writing the Draft

Now it’s time to produce your rough draft. Just write. Quickly put down all the information that you’ve got, according to the method of development that you have decided to use. At this point, you don’t care about proper introduction or grammar. Just let the information flow until you are done.


This is the point where you edit your draft. You check for unity or coherence, flow and transition from one idea to the next, clarity, etc. This is when you check spellings, punctuations, and remove unnecessary words and phrases. You generally polish your write-up at this stage.

When you are done, read through again and again. You can also give it to other persons to proofread for you [that’s if you have the time].

Mind you, your written communication represents you. Don’t make yourself look bad.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adverts don't sell

Really, it’s a mistake to think that you can sell anything by simply advertising it.

You can hammer-in on the product’s unique selling proposition, and shoot the advert with Beyonce displaying the product. If it is such a useless and outdated product like a floppy disk or video cassette, it will not sell, at least not profitably.

Marketing is about envisaging and discovering customers’ needs and figuring out the best ways to meet them profitably. So the customer’s need, [which is an element of demand] comes first. Then the product which can meet that need comes into the picture.

People forget adverts as soon as they read them unless they happen to need the product at that time. Therefore, adverting is like offering a thirsty man a glass of cold water. The fourth or fifth glass of cold water will no longer be a temptation. He can ignore it. He is no longer thirsty.

So before you pump huge amount of money into advertising, make sure there is a demand [need + ability to buy] for it.

We once made this mistake too. My partner and I wanted people to know that we provide tasty barbecue at events. We put up a display advert, showcasing what we’ve got...

That advert did not work for some reasons. One of it is that the people in the region where we focused the advert did not need barbecue. They general could not afford hosting such parties where barbecue is served; beside they are mostly busy people.

So we had to change our strategy.

Lesson: Advertising is basically saying, “Hey, we’ve got what you are looking for.” And not “Hey, this is beautiful, efficient, and cheap. Would you buy?”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Don't Bore your Audience

I got bored. I would have left; if not that I had to report on the event. The Compere or Master of Ceremony as he called himself, did his best. Apparently he was trying to impress with many words, but it proved counter-productive. It bored not just me, but us; at least over a dozen people who were seated near me.
What is wrong talking a lot while hosting an event? After all, that’s why you were hired – to talk and engage the audience during transitions in-between items in the agenda.

It will be okay if:

1. The event was organised because of you. Probably, they all came to hear you talk. You can talk all day and they will be fine.

2. You are a super star stand-up comedian. Besides, it’s becoming a norm in my country, Nigeria, for comperes to double as stand-up comedians. So every master or mistress of ceremony wants to make people laugh at all cost, even at funerals.

3. The organiser commissioned you to make the delay the next performance, maybe while they wait for a late-coming ‘guest of honour’.

A few words of advice:

1. Few words, does it. Nobody wants to stay forever in an event, I mean, it gets boring.

2. Stick to the assignment. The assignment is to introduce the next performance. Just do it. Don’t border us with stories that are off-point. Really, jokes should relate to the theme of the event and be palatable to the predominant composition of the audience.

3. Speak clearly. Wrong pronunciation [like Shareman instead of Chairman], and mumbling to yourself can badly damage your brand as a professional compere. I recommend speech training.

4. Be Yourself. There is no need trying to fake accent. If you don’t have it, you don’t. If you have it, there is almost nothing you can do to erase it. Don’t act on stage. Just be yourself.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't lose your job on Facebook

Emmanuel [not his real name] had nailed the job already. He had gone through three stages of oral interviews, and he was successful. At that point, the list of qualified 35 applicants had narrowed down to two, but only one was needed.
According to Emmanuel, the odds were in his favour until, the head of the recruitment team decided to check their online presence. “That is where I missed it” he said.
When the name of the other contestant was ‘googled’, many links showed up; a good number of them contained his achievement in his field – marketing, whereas when Emmanuel’s name was ‘googled’ there was really nothing, except his Facebook profile.
But that was not all the trouble.
Emmanuel lost the job, and he was told that it was because his web personality didn’t fit the status they wanted for the marketing manager of their company. A member of the recruitment team, told him, informally that problem was that his Facebook posts did not in any way suggest that he can organise and lead the marketing team of a big corporation.
His, was a job, yours might be different.
“Mind what you post on Facebook!” It can make or mar you. Your reputation now goes beyond what you do or say, your association on the Internet is now a large part of it.
So, before you add or confirm that friend on Facebook, pause and think, “Will this person on my friends list add to or subtract from my personal brand?” Before you post that article, comment, or like that thing, think, “Will this hurt me or help me?”
The Internet is growing and the trend is irreversible. In the near future, success and failure will have direct link to the way you align yourself on the web.
But the piece of advice is that Facebook and other social media platforms are no longer for informal chit chats only. Whatever you do, make sure you are not throwing dirt on your career path.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What is your Brand Proposition?

Really, think about it. What is your promise? What do you have to offer the next person you are going to meet? Have you thought about it? Do you really have something to offer and are you really offering what you have?
Brand proposition means brand promise; the value that a business offers its customers or what a customer stands to gain by doing business with a corporation or purchasing a product. But for this post, I am considering the proposition of your personal brand.
Assuming you were a business, what will you be known for?
Coca-Cola is known for refreshment; Burj Al Arab [the only 7-star hotel in the world] is known for luxury; Microsoft is known for computer software innovations; Tiger Woods is known for excellence in golf; what are you known for?
You may not be popular yet. At least the spotlight is yet to shine on you, as a result only a few people know whether you are clueless or not, that is if they care. However, you should have something about you; something that makes you you; something that makes you different from others.
This is one thing that brand conscious firms do. They try to do something different or do same thing with others in different ways.
If you do not offer something different, why should anybody patronise you, especially if you are new in the market.
Think. Everyone in your crowded profession wants to get more jobs, more pay, more recognition just like you. And the easiest way to get ahead is to come of the crowd, focus, and fire.
What to do:
Take time out, probably a retreat, and think about who you really are. Document your talents, skills, and your areas of passion. Come to a conclusion and define who you are. Then let this definition of you, determine how you interact with others and what you produce: your speeches, your writings, your dressing and all your other forms of expression.
After this, make conscious effort to deliver value to whoever you come in contact with, wherever.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Increasing your Personal Brand Value during Reputation Crisis

Water was in short supply in the university campus. Students spent hours on queues at the few available taps trying to get water in containers, mostly buckets. A queue went as long as over 100 containers with some of the owner standing on the sides. Some students could not wait; they dropped their containers and returned for them later.
On this day, this student, a male, dropped his brand new blue bucket on the queue beside one of males’ hostel and left. He returned and saw a bucket that looks exactly like it already filled with water and he took it, thinking it was his. While he was walking away, the real owner the bucket confronted him and accused him of theft and proved with a tiny mark on the bottom of the bucket.
The students that had gathered at the scene, left with the impression that the student was “on trial” was guilty of theft. His explanations were not accepted by many, or so it seemed.
That incident dented his reputation – the value of his personal brand. In the next few weeks, when he walked around on campus, he could almost perceive other students calling him a thief. The impression lingered.
Lessons to Learn
1. Explain. When you goof in public, especially if you are a celebrity, try as much as possible to put the records straight before the audience disperse. Mind you, there is always a probability of making a mistake.
2. Avoid similar occurrences. You might not succeed at clearing your name in a particular incident of wrong; in fact some will not believe you. So from then henceforth, ensure that you don’t get involved in any other situation similar or related to that event. If a wrong action is not reinforced by other similar action, that action will soon be relegated to the back-side of people’s memory.
3. Move on. People are judged by the consistency of their actions. When you consistently do things excellently, you will be known for it. As a result, that moment of error will not count much.
4. Use it. Bad news spreads faster than good news. That means when you goof in public, you become more popular. Instead of whimpering under the spot light, use the opportunity to show the best in you. Reputation crisis will either bury you or elevate you. You choose.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Don't Speak like Patrick

Patrick Obahiagbon is a Nigerian federal lawmaker. But what’s more important about him is that he gets tonnes of applauds whenever he speaks. Reporters stumble over one another to get their midgets, recorders, microphones and cameras to his face. Patrick speaks. However, his audience are usually concerned about his use of words.
One day a reporter asked Patrick why he speaks the way he does. This is what he had to say:

“Sincerely speaking, I want to tender an unreserved apologia to my colleagues and all those who feel that my language is obscurantist. The truth is that I do not set out deliberately to mystify my audience, to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability or in portmanteau of conundrum. No, no, no, no! Far from it. The cosmic force would not allow me to do that.

But, you see if you ask homo sapients who have interfaced with me for close to twenty years now, they would tell you that I no longer speak high sounding language. I have reduced it radically. If you have the opportunity to listen to my speeches or debates ten, fifteen years ago, then it would have been a different kettle of fish all together. So, I am convinced that I’ve tried, I am trying and I will continue to try to ensure that my language or my idiolect is as limpid and as diaphanous as possible.”

These days, the lawmaker causes more laughter than skilled stand-up comedians. His speech is often a bunch of entertainment, but little communication. Though he has become popular as the man with the big words, an orator maybe, he is a poor communicator.

The message is the most important element of communication. It’s like the goal in a soccer match, the other elements matter less.

Most times, simple does it. However, some audience might prefer a Patrick. The fact is that not so many of us have dictionaries in our heads.

So the next time you speak, whether during a one-on-one conversation or a graduation speech to over a thousand people, consider the makeup of the audience.

Communication is the essence.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Getting your message across

All we do all the time is communication. Whoever we are, wherever we are, or whatever the activity, we constantly strive to get our messages across. It might be through a seminar presentation, email to a friend, husband and wife interaction, or coach to team charge session, whichever way, it ends in understanding or misunderstanding.
If a communication process ends in understanding, it means that the message was properly transmitted and received with little or no distortion and elicited the appropriate feedback.
If it ends in misunderstanding, it means that the message was not properly transmitted. It shows that the message was ambiguous, distorted and shrouded with noise – signals that interfere communication processes.
However, the desired end of every communication process is shared understanding. And the goal of every communicator is to get the right response from the receiver of the message.
A message – visual, audio or body signal – can achieve the desired goal only when it is clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous.
Clear – means that the communicator is certain of his goal or message and expresses it with simplicity,without undertones, 'big words' and unfamiliar idioms.
Concise – means that the communicator sticks to his point and keeps his/her message brief. There is no need to use three sentences when one will do.
Concrete – means that the communicator paints a vivid picture of his/her message. It is tangible, the audience can feel it. Anecdotes, facts, and pictures work well for this.
Correct – means that the communicator tailors his/her message to fit the need and the level of education of the audience. It also means that message is void of grammatical and spelling errors.
Coherent – means that the communicator ensures consistency in the message. All the elements must add up and flow into the theme.
Complete – means that the communicator includes everything in the message that the audience need to be informed and to take action.
Courteous – means that the communicator is friendly, open, and sincere with the audience. He/she understands the audience and is not insulting whether in words, gestures or tone.
Notice: the communicator is responsible for the outcome. He/she is the one to make amends when the message fails to hit the target.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Telemarketing it

In spite of the increasing use of the internet, particularly emails in marketing, telemarketing is still relevant. Telemarketing is simply marketing over the telephone. Most telemarketing calls are "cold calls," that is, calls made to a prospect when he/she has not requested for it. Due to its often out-the-blue approach of people who may not find it pleasant, telemarketing is one of the most controversial types of marketing. However, its main purpose to make a sale or at least introduce the product or service.
Though, it can quite effective, telemarketing is mainly used as a component of an integrated marketing campaign. It supplements advertising and direct marketing campaigns. It can be used to handle a number of different tasks:
- Direct sales to prospect over the phone
- Maintain contact with current customer
- Generating leads from unqualified mailing lists
- Following up direct marketing programmes
- carrying out market research, using surveys to establish consumer response to products or side incentives
- Winning back lapsed customers by introducing them to new products that may be of greater interest following up leads generated through advertising or direct marketing or via intermediaries
- maintaining contact with customers as part of a relationship marketing programme
Telemarketing also can provide a point of response for queries generated through advertising or direct marketing campaigns or to obtain information from respondent as a basis for future database marketing.
But if it is done unprofessionally, telemarketing can ruin the gains of advertising and every other marketing effort. This is because experience is always more powerful, and is engraved in the memory, more than information. So a telemarketer must be grounded in professional telephone etiquettes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

24 Tips on Business Telephone Etiquettes

Telephone has become a vital tool in business. You really cannot do much without it. More and more business communications are now done on the phone. So, just as you strive to be at your best during business presentations, you must ensure that you are at your best during business-related telephone conversations.

The following are tips on telephone etiquettes that will help individuals and organisations succeed in their business communications:

1. Every staff or member of the organisation should be taught the right procedures for making and receiving business calls. This is to ensure that anyone who makes or answers calls on behalf of the organisation properly represents its brand.

2. When you pick up the phone, greet the caller depending on the time of the day.

3. While calling, it is proper to introduce yourself and give the name of your organization. This helps the person you are calling to make decisions on time.

4. While receiving calls for your company, go like this, “Good morning, XYZ Company, Johnson speaking. How may I help you?" this helps the caller to ascertain whether he/she has called the right organisation or not.

5. Use simple words and short phrases while making business phone calls.

6. Go straight to the point. It is courtesy, your message, then a courteous ending. Don’t go round the point.

7. No casual words or slangs during business phone conversations.

8. It is good business telephone ethic for both the caller and receiver to write down information when necessary. So when preparing to make or take a call, ensure that you have something to write on.

9. If you dial a wrong number, apologize immediately and disconnect. Dial carefully.

10. As much as possible, do not put a caller on hold. But if you have to, ensure that you ask for their permission and check back with them every minute or so and ask if they would like to continue to hold. This is to assure them that they have not been forgotten.

11. Never eat food or chew gum while talking on the phone, especially for a business call. It causes unpleasant sounds that can disgust your caller or receiver.

12. Do not make or take business phone calls while driving. This is not only dangerous but divides your attention.
13. Do away with every form of distraction while making or taking business calls. Turn-off the TV or radio, move away from a noise area and concentrate. Your next business deal may be totally dependent on that call.

14. Speak softly but audibly and clearly. Make sure the volume of your telephone is optimal not too high and not too low.

15. Keep your business telephone calls brief and friendly.

16. Be mindful of differences in time zones. So that you call at appropriate times, preferable in the day; not earlier than 9am and not later than 9pm.

17. Also be mindful of cultural differences. Complimentary words and phrases in one culture may be considered insulting in another culture.

18. Speak clearly and slowly. Don’t not mumble, stammer or slur. Vary your pitch and tone to stress important words.

19. Never be rude to a caller no matter what. Always conduct yourself in a professional business-like manner. That is what is expected from the staff a professional organisation.

20. Incoming calls should be answered on time. Allowing it ring for a long time speaks ill your organisation.

21. Be very attentive. Don’t make the caller repeat every word. If his or her voice is not audible, politely ask him or her to speak louder and clearer.

22. Don't interrupt the caller when he or she is speaking.

23. Put the receiver down gently. Never slam the phone. It is rude.

24. Finally, before initiating a call, spend some time preparing yourself mentally. Carefully outline all that needs to be discussed.

Communicating for life

“The one factor that will determine how much money you will make is your ability to communicate”. I heard the statement for the first time from Marshawn Evans, the CEO of Communication Counts, and it made a lot of sense to me.
This is the information age. Everything is revolving around information and how it is transferred from one place to another; from the sender to the receiver and back to the sender. The main fact is that this trend will continue. Information will become more essential. It has been predicted that in the next few years the ability to use the Internet will become a basic necessity. It’s either you are in it or you loose out in every other thing.
In spite of the proliferation of digital communication, the most basic form of communication such as speaking, writing, and gesturing are still relevant. So even if you don’t have access to a computer, may be you have a phone. If you don’t, at least you can speak. If you can’t, may be you can write. If you can’t, may be you give show gestures. Whichever way, ensure that you communicate.
No matter how great your idea is, you cannot grow it alone; you must learn skills from other people; you must seek fund from other people; you must work with other people and when you succeed at turning it into marketable products, you must sell it to other people.
I consciously used the word ‘must’ and that is because we really do not have a choice in this matter. The things that we need to progress are always with other people, around us or far away, and we must communicate to access them.
Communicating is as important as living. Great communicators are usually seen as wealthy, influential and relevant, and they usually are. So thrive to become one.

The Power of One Customer

There was this shop in a small community. It sold everything from grocery to stationery to tools and clothing too. It offered a one stop shopping experience, everybody in the community patronized it; competition was minimal. But that was until it got it wrong.

As their monopoly became more established, the attendants of this super shop grew less and less courteous. They became obviously unwilling make extra effort to ensure that the hundreds of people that visit their shop daily get good service. They began having arguments with customers more often and were always unwilling to concede.

One day, a man who was known in that community as an honest gentleman, went to the shop at one those busy moments. He was kept waiting for about 10 minutes unattended to. When he complained to one of the attendant, she shouted at him, “Wait. Are you the only one?”

That moment the rowdy shop went quiet. All eyes were on the scene. The man walked away. In solidarity, a good number of other customers there walked away too. That was the beginning of the end for that shop.
The news of the incident spread round the town, eliciting more reactions. Without any consensus, people stopped patronizing the big shop. They went to the smaller shops instead.

Sooner than later, the customer base of the big shop thinned down to less than 20 percent of what it used to be. The advertising campaigns and promotion they employed did not yield much result because majority of the community – their target market – were still unhappy with them. The business eventually closed. They lost the market right when they had it. One impolite treatment of one customer cost them the whole market.

About the most important aspect of branding is establishing a very good customer service and relations. Sales are made on the lines of good relationships. You must show the customer that you are in business for his/her own good. He/she must see that you care. People are more likely to believe what they have experienced than what they see or hear.

So do your advertising well but don't forget that one satisfied customer is worth more than a million prospects.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Making Your Brand Name Stick

Some restaurants have funny names; but none, that I know, has a funnier name than one that I visited months ago near Airport Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria. Its name is ‘Mine Thing Hot Restaurant’. The name stuck. I told it as a joke to many of friends; I shared it on facebook; I wrote a story about it titled ‘What’s in a name’ that was published on and I recommended the restaurant to friends, at least for them to verify the bizarre name. All that advertisement were neither solicited nor paid for. That is the advantage of naming your business right.
When choosing a name for your brand, these things should be consider:

1. Your brand name should be distinct: This means that it stands out, especially from the lot of competitors in the same market with you. Giving a name like ‘Panasony Electronics’ to your new electronics producing firm will reduce its value. The name will essentially portray your firm as a ‘Panasonic and Sony wannabe’. With that alone, the integrity of your brand will be in doubt and that will result to low acceptance in the market and of course low or no profit.

2. Your brand name should reflect you unique selling point: People, including your would-be customers are busy. They will be even busier in the future. So the faster you can come across to them, the better. Don’t make your prospect go through the trouble of figuring out what they will gain from patronizing you and not your competitor. While interviewing the owner of Mine Thing Hot Restaurant, a middle-aged woman who runs the restaurant alongside her two daughters, she said, “ food is always hot, that’s why my customers come here.”

3. Your brand name should be witty: You have to play with words until you get something catchy. Get all the words that individually portray essential aspects of what your firm is offering, particularly the ones that make you different. Work with them until you get the one word or combination of words that is memorable enough to that a person who sees it once can remember it unconsciously. The name has to appeal to the emotion of your target customers. Making them rhyme helps.
With all these in place, you definitely have a name to run with. The next step is making it known to as many people as possibly. “Just put it in our faces.” On flyer; on billboards; on TV; on radio; and very importantly on the internet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Notice my brand?

A brand is unique; easily identifiable even within a pool of varying individuals, groups, firms, products or services. It is communicated through names, campaigns, signs, symbols or designs, or a combination of them. The intention is to be different.

In no other time in history has branding been this important. There are now about 7 million individuals on earth all seeking attention and millions of products and services making strong marketing presence on all spheres of the media. So to be noticed these days is difficult.

How do I get noticed?

Simply communicate. The lady that catwalks down the aisle in busy mall wearing a tight blouse on a mini skirt, with a heavily painted face; gets noticed. Whether you like the sight or not, she got your attention.

That is brand communication. Her expression through her appearance and her gait created an impression in your mind. That impression determines whether you will be willing to do business with her or not.

How do I gain?

Brand communication is the bedrock of all marketing campaign. A product or service is never meant for everybody. There must be a target market to whom the brand communication is directed with the intent to influence them into making buying decisions.

To succeed at branding an individual, product or service, the needs and wants of the customers and prospects must be understood and put into consideration. That's where branding begins; studying the psychology of the target market.

This is essential because your brand is in the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.

So branding is not cheap but it is worth every dime and effort. Once well built and communicated, a brand is then well positioned to make profit, provided it is well managed.