Thursday, 13 August 2015

We do what we are

It's the premise of all marketing. 

And marketing in all its shapes and forms. 

'My front door is of quality, for ME I am quality'. 

You can apply that to the physical appearance as to the voice, a leaflet, business card, website or any other personal or professional marketing tool: anything that is meant to leave an impression. 

There's not a s-h-r-e-d we put online or its subliminal message is: this is me

No message on Facebook or it provides the person seeing it with a wealth of information and it's decisive

90% is unconscious communication: We are not aware that we're aware of it. 

Neither the person posting it nor the person seeing it are not rationally aware of the meat of the message. It's picked up nevertheless: not just what you care about. But how much. How much time you have put in it. Care. Commitment. Money. Energy. Quality of thought.

Everything you are not saying or don't know that you are saying is transmitted anyway - from one unconscious brain to the other.

We do what we are and we are what we do

At least, that's both the perception, the expectation as well as the hope. Ergo: it's everything. 

Example: I do not need to write an 'About Me' page: For your impressions have already long been made. 

You already know it's about cost-effective marketing for small businesses. For you already see the 'cost-effectiveness' and the 'smallness' in everything. 

Your emotional decision to see me as a reliable source or not, was made within seconds after you landed on this blog. Whatever I write or do not write in this page, has no relevance or purpose. It's done. It's too late. You have made up your mind and have taken your emotional decision. 

That was the hardest and most difficult lesson I learned in marketing: 

It took 1 year to rank in the Top 3 for 'SEO advisor' or 'SEO Brussels'. 

It took 1 year to understand that these rankings were not cost-effective marketing at all.
It took 
1 year full time studying conversion techniques before my own website started to run by itself, without further marketing costs.
But it took me 8 years to truly and fully grasp the above. 

Don't tell what you can do, show it, from the very first second. 
For we are perceived to be doing what we inherently are.  


TIP: If you hate this article, you'll also hate Silence is a language too and definitely How is your Halo Effect?

Monday, 20 July 2015

The 3 secrets of happiness

I'm at that age where it starts to feel natural to spread wisdoms.

There has been enough mud, mist and wilderness to also stumble over diamonds. 

Enough time has gone by to let most lose their lustre,  and recognise the ones that still shine decades later. 

Here are the diamonds that made all the difference for me myself - small and simple, for great truths do not need capitals nor exclamation marks:

'Choose your friends wisely'

For we are nothing but the average of the people we spend most time with. They are decisive for your quality, ethics, integrity, wisdom, fun, mildness, reliability, stability, freshness, self-motivation, spice, success - and ultimately your happiness. 

'It's never the destination, always the journey'

Try to avoid destinations at any cost - be them geographical, financial or psychological. They are good to have, for they provide direction and are the icing on the cake, but nothing more than that. Destinations, especially the popular ones, are, per definition, downtrodden, beaten, unoriginal, lacklustre, inside the box. The city-trip can be 'OK', 'cool' or 'great' - it's the journey that can provide four-letter word extasis, satisfaction and insights. 

'When you come to a fork in the road, take it'

Don't get grey hair pondering about the choice. Great opportunities are very rare: cease them. In fact this is also a bit of a sad wisdom: it's already been decided. Whether you take the left or the right, your personality, character, temperament will still be with you - and ultimately lead you to the very same point. DID you make the wrong decision, no worries: 'It's never the destination, always the journey'. DO you think that your character or temperament or background obstruct you: 'Choose your friends wisely'. 


Monday, 22 June 2015

Rather a Spanish bull than a Belgian cow

What's so noble about treating animals as crop? 

A country where you can find road signs such as this one, is not a bad place for bulls.

In the north of Europe I've never seen 3 cows have a whole valley to themselves. Nor road signs warning: Chickens crossing! Pigs crossing! For sure the end of their lives is more 'humane', for they have none.

Instincts deleted, adrenaline repressed. Capacity to mate or fight: not necessary. You're nothing but a vegetable, a grain of sand in the mass industry of a forever growing meat consumption. You end up on a plate while people discuss the flavour of the sauce. You're a cog in the statistics of the obesity rate, not to mention Global Warming. 

But we come to southern Spain and say: "Tsss".

It's in our genes to want to expand in all directions. Our opinions, our cultural habits. As though the town we grew up in is the measure of all things. And, of course, it's also in our genes to strengthen our defense when under attack: the best way to keep the tradition of the bullfight alive is for foreigners to criticize it. 

(A few things regarding gay rights in Africa or democracy in Russia jump to mind too). 

By the way, I met some Andalusian men who are bulls themselves, so much so that sometimes I can see that it is a fair fight. To be able to live all the adrenaline, power, speed and tactics that evolution has provided... oh yes, as Hemingway I'd much rather be a Spanish bull than a German cow. 

OK, I'm in Andalusia again and, as always, my love for the region is skyrocketing. For sure I'm telling things that might upset others - you know how it goes when you see thin ice... you just have to tread on it. You just have to step closer to that canyon.

This is not a pro-corrida article. Only one to stress that there are 2 sides to every coin. Together we will find a middle way. 


Sunday, 3 May 2015

The grand return of German in marketing

Over the past 5 years I've noticed a clear increase in the demand for German. In basically everything: website translations, SEO, set-up of paid advertising, you name it. 

Nothing new under the sun: businesses go where the market is thought to be. 

Lately though I do notice something new: enthusiasm.

The demand for the translation is not always just for strategic reasons, but also for liking the language. 

Or for feeling connected to those who speak it. 

Sure, both are related. We tend to see a culture or country that is economically strong in a more positive light in other domains too. And for sure an Angela Merkel has topped up the existing 'perception of the brand' from mere Reliability... with Likeability.

As all great Brands know: nothing can make you successful as being loved. Do not push but pull

The main expression that springs to mind though is: Cultural Determination. 

Or: our opinions and feelings are only the average of those around us. And fluctuate. 

In this, a language is absolutely no different from the rise and fall of a celebrity or a trend or a song in the pop charts: all things go through a wave of being seen as hip/cool/beautiful/trendy/great to the opposite - and, sometimes, back again.

Today, yes, even 12-year olds here in Brussels might still say that 'German is an ugly language'. But they no longer connect it to 70 years of movies reducing it to one trademark only. The negative reputation is slowly fading. It might be the very last tiny waves on the beach of collective prejudices

People born before WW2 never thought or think of it as being 'ugly'. On the contrary, for them it often was and still is the language of Europe's great composers, finest poets and most influential thinkers. A European nonagenarian can drop expressions in German, just as a teenager does in English. 'Fingerspitzengef√ľhl' they will say, or 'ins blauen hinein', savoring the sweet confirmation that this establishes them as being cultured. Or plugged in with society. 

It's funny that it's never a 'small' language that is named 'beautiful': only ever one of a very large country or very dominant culture. To the victor go the spoils: the attention goes to the beauty of that language, over the heads of that of any other. Its marketing is better.

For sure a language can be spoken beautifully or poorly. Some languages come with a very strong emphasis on the importance of speaking well, in other languages that's less the case. 

If the operas had been written in Finnish, we would all go: "What a beautiful language, how... musical"! Large sections of any society would be 'Finophile'. Others would scratch their heads and have to admit: "True, sauna... that's a nice word". Next thing you know we might focus on the beautiful sounds - and the language is on our radar. 

Sure, being liberated by the Finnish would hugely help. Their prime minister motivating Europe during dark nights. Their tall, brave soldiers distributing chewing gum. The Halo Effect kicks in and in a matter of 2 generations it will be the lingua franca of Europe. 

Where was I? O yes, the German language.

Very, very slowly - and for sure in some 10-20 years completely - we are once again entering a world in which the German shepherd does not have to be renamed in 'Alsatian', a royal family such as the British one doesn't have to change their name overnight for it sounding too German... and it can simply be the great language of Goethe again, of van Beethoven and the Lorelei. 

That in itself is a historic step.
It's how history actually works. Not by grand deeds on specific dates, but as a very, very slow river that takes a century to arrive in a very, very calm sea under a blue, sunny sky. 

You'd think that nothing has happened, but someting has. 

All together now: 



Friday, 1 May 2015

What website languages to use by 2025?

Ever since 2008 my inbox keeps flashing the words 'German', 'Dutch', 'Danish', 'Norwegian' at me.

As well as requests for Advertising in Germany, Holland and all Scandinavian countries. 

But that's today. What about the future?  Worldwide: personally I predict the return of the importance of the languages of our neighbouring countries. For the pendulum always swings back (in this case from mondialisation to deepening of own culture).

For Europe, the GlobalEurope Anticipation Bulletin, not just any source, predicts: 

1. A great comeback of German 2. Increase of importance of Russian 3. And, for communication outside of Europe, Spanish

They do indeed seem to be safe bets. Just safe bets obviously don't often result in much return, if any, so as small business owner you want to investigate and improve the chances.

Better it is...

To definitely first perform research around you
To people who represent your typical or future target market (not friends or relatives or whatever online forum). 

For example: I love working with web designers from India. But if I need a website for Brussels, the web designer just needs to come from there too: it's a Must that he/she lives and breathes the cultural opinions regarding quality, reliability, Golden Ratio, what constitutes a trust maker or breaker - etc.

Most communication is unspoken, it's already part of the fabric of a segment of society.

Still better it is...

To be clever.
Predictions as the one above create more competition. Such a serious prediction is read by tens of thousands, who talk about it to others, which quickly spreads over millions of articles... so rest assured that by 2025 everyone might target exactly the same languages/markets again.

Just as half of Europe is targeting Scandinavia in Google Adwords today - making that the cost per click is extremely expensive.

It's never the popularity of the language that makes a translation or knowledge of a language beneficial to you: it's the niche as well as being ahead of others.

Being ahead of others is a very clear advantage. It were the first who went onto YouTube, the first who started with a mobile website, that were able to increase their market share.

And being clever is that other pillar of all online marketing. Far better it is to target a language spoken in a country that, say, represents only 2% of the world population but stands for 4% of its GDP - and not 0.1% of the world can translate back or to this language. Etc.

I read the story about a Briton who learned Dutch. Yes, a Briton who learned Dutch. Take a moment to ponder about that. And wonder if you would have guessed that it also makes him more successful and more in demand than thousands of others who also offer more language combinations. For maybe only 1% of the market will demand a native speaker for the end language - but he's got that market completely to himself.

Even better it is...

It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it!

It might be far better to target one extra language, than a 100 of them. For whatever the sport, the field of study, the craftsmanship or anything else in life: you have to be the best to win. Or at the very least better than others.

Marketing is all about emotional connection.

You won't connect with any website visitor with poor translations, only a bit with insipid ones, only averagely if the seriousness or cultural knowledge is average, and so on. You want to really connect on a very high level with (possibly) the ideal segment of the highest level of your target market.

Why even learn a language or translate a website - if we all speak English anyway? Well, did you ever try to get a mass audience on the dance floor? Or make them change from sitting there having a good time - to sing along and having a great time? What is that one moment that they do so? They can like or even love a whole evening in any language - but it's only a song in the own language that creates a shudder: 

Language is not merely a communication tool: it comes with a very strong emotional connection: it's a communicational knife slicing through the rational brain straight to the limbic system and beyond.

Any person addressing any other person in his or her own language, has a very strong advantage: the potential for an emotional click. In marketing: an increase in likeability, memorability, reliability, conversion. 

And it's not about whether or not there's a connection: but its quality. The quality of your connection or profitability will only be as good as the quality of the language used.

After all, it's enthusiasm that connects and sells, quality sells, reliability sells - not any order of any alphabet.