Pictures and Words

fresh guacamole

A picture speaks a thousand words. Today, people multitask and run 5 windows on their machines and tablets concurrently and we have even less time to grab their attention with our message.

I think text is yesterday’s business and to engage we need pictures and headlines. If I created slides that were made up only of bullet points, what would the audience think? Would anybody concentrate for longer than a minute or two, before switching to reading messages on their phones, surf the web or look at what was happening on social platforms and completely ignore my presentation, no matter how compelling?

People respond to images, they like short videos and their brains are like filters. They block out the majority of information, so why do we send our customers and prospects long emails, pages of text and documents, and expect them to respond?

Take note how the market for short films is booming. At this year’s Oscars, “Fresh Guacamole”, at 1-minute-41-seconds, was the shortest movie ever to receive a nomination. It has no real characters, no dialogue, no traditional storyline, but got 8 million viewers on YouTube. There is a message in there for all of us.

Knowledge Economy to a Thinking Economy

ThinkingThere is an increasing emphasis on collecting and deciphering data and I read an inspiring story recently about a slum in Calcutta whose school kids have put them on the government map in a clever utilisation of data (more of that next time). Data alone, however, will never be enough.

We can collect all the data we want but we still have to connect with our customers on an emotional level. If our product or service isn’t humanised, it will not sell. A customer doesn’t go through a process of saying this might just be useful for me, a customer says to himself, I want this.

Moreover, while individuals are willing to buy consumer products online (books, electronics, laptops) without talking to a salesperson, a recent survey highlighted that 95% of corporate buyers want a salesperson to be involved in the process. They want to engage with people. It is important to balance this with salespeople who help the buyer make better decisions, not be the subject of monotonous sales pitches.

One of my favourite messages is describing how we have moved from a knowledge economy to a thinking economy, because we can find everything we need by searching on Google. But we mustn’t forget that the sparkle in a deal coming together for the benefit of both parties is always underpinned by good relations between the partners.

Everyone is a media company


I talk a lot about technology facilitating change in life and business. I found this picture in an airline magazine recently, of something called a ‘skycot.’ Can you imagine being allowed to suspend a baby from the overhead luggage compartment in a cot today?

I was in discussion with the director of a leading learning organisation this week and we discussed how embracing the new way of marketing, riding on the coat-tails of technology, is now a given. The brilliant Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, which through its digital vision is leading the way in innovative uses of technology, said recently, “Everyone is a media company.” If social networks and are where the next generation of learners, workers and shoppers choose learn about our products and services, that is where we have to be present to engage them.

There is one caveat to this that I experienced – yet again – recently. This doesn’t change for me. While I recognise that certain roles require very specific skills, as a generalisation I will continue to hire on ATTITUDE. In today’s world we have to keep learning and evolving just to stay in touch, so I will focus first on people with great attitude, because I can teach them everything they need to know about the company and its services