United Has Plenty of Company in Playing it Cheap

Tony Compton, Managing Director

The damage is done.

United’s brand and reputation have been irreparably harmed for a generation, at minimum.

Once upon a time I was a #United frequent flyer. I think I have over 400k lifetime miles on the airline. I’m not 100% certain of that number because I haven’t flown United since last summer, and I just don’t feel like checking my UA frequent flyer account. And for this #Chicago born and raised traveler, I can’t say I was totally surprised to learn about what had happened with one of their passengers. Shocked, angry, disgusted… yep. Surprised? Not really.

The world now knows what far too many ORD flyers have known about United for years: the airline is – to say the least – operationally challenged. The way it has served its customers has been deteriorating for years and I’d given up on United, flying them only when absolutely necessary.

Then this incident in Chicago happened.

No doubt you’ve heard about the firestorm that has engulfed United Airlines this past week. But this post isn’t a rehash of the events that transpired this past Sunday. It’s an article that examines one specific element within the sequence of events that got the airline to where it finds itself today. One particular business aspect of the rotten customer experience that United executives and investors surely wish they could get back. It’s one that was controllable, would have made economic sense, and one that United CEO Oscar Munoz would go back in time to retrieve if given the opportunity. But that ship sailed on Sunday, and now it’s too late.

I’m talking about the $800 (USD) ceiling that was the cutoff between the final offer from the airline to entice volunteers to stay the night in Chicago and the start of the passenger selection and eviction process which led to the physical incident with Dr. David Dao. The compensatory offers from the airline to the passengers on that Chicago to Louisville flight should’ve increased. Eventually some passengers would’ve taken a higher amount to give up their seats. Even if they had to get to their final destination, a few may have (or should have) put on their thinking caps and ran the numbers: $800 (or more) minus a one-day car rental to Louisville – minus gas – equals profit for themselves. Even if that profit came in the form of a voucher for future United travel. The drive from Chicago-O’Hare to Louisville is only five hours, and I’ve driven it many, many times. It’s a piece of cake. But I digress…

The point is that United played it cheap with its passenger offers, and it’ll cost the airline exponentially more than the small amount of extra funds it would’ve taken to get one of its Louisville-bound customers to accept an offer for their seat. Sad part about it is United isn’t alone in playing it cheap. Far from it. They have plenty of company across all industries in the form of other organizations which think it’s either perfectly acceptable to gamble with certain business situations, not invest in critical areas of their business, remain ignorant or stubborn in their corporate arrogance, and conduct business as usual with their heads in the clouds.

Until it’s too late.

From a #sales, #marketing, #technology, and #socialmedia perspective, here’s how:

1. Professional Development

Employees are continuously asked to write, present, and communicate. Market, sell, and service customers. To organize and run meetings, lead teams, resolve problems, and perform at a high level. But when it comes to provide professional business coaching for any of the above, most companies fall short or offer their employees nothing at all. Yet employees are thrown into situations when they’re either not equipped for success or nothing has been done to maintain and upgrade their skills. And for those who claim that employees should have certain professional skills when they’re hired and that they don’t need to provide additional support… I’m certain Michael Jordan knew how to play basketball before joining the Chicago Bulls. Tiger Woods knew how to play golf before and after he won his first Masters tournament. Yet they always had coaches to improve their games. They were at the top of their games and still needed coaching and practice. All companies should do the same for their employees. (And no, those once-a-year two day cookie cutter training sessions don’t suffice.)

When is it too late? Every time a speaker is ill-prepared for a presentation, a rep isn’t prepped for a customer interaction, a webinar unfolds with a lackluster approach, a time-wasting team meeting is held, a company’s brand and reputation are damaged.

2. Trade Show Sponsorships and Exhibits

A juicy Silver-level sponsorship at the next industry event is secured. Not platinum, nor Gold, but it includes a 10’ x 10’ booth location in a decent, but not great, area within the exhibit hall. But beyond the initial sponsorship investment, not much is done by the sponsoring company to succeed at the event. A homemade booth, constructed by a combination of sales, marketing, and office staff who should be doing something far more productive occupies the exhibit space. Poor exhibit messaging, no staff preparation, and five-figures of investment flushed down the toilet. And the sponsoring company wonders why the attendee world didn’t come running to their exhibit? Corporate damage at an event, complete.

When is it too late? Most likely weeks or months before an events starts, but certainly one minute after the exhibit hall doors open.

3. Live from… Trade Shows, Conferences, and Events

The ongoing frustration with inept speakers giving bad, text-and-tech heavy presentations has been a cross-industry plague for decades. Today, lousy presenters aren’t confined to the ballroom. Everybody walks the convention hall and its exhibit hall floor with a video camera and mobile TV studio in their pockets. Show attendees will put your naive employees on live television on a moment’s notice – with disastrous results. I’ve seen it happen and that content lasts forever. If each and every one of your event-bound staff are not fully prepared for how they will be seen and heard on-camera, a company is gambling with its brand and reputation.

When is it too late? As soon as somebody hits that camera button on their smartphone or tablet and streams live, from your booth, demo, or event session.

4. Voice, Video, and Media

Some companies place little value in the voice of their corporate content. I’m talking about the actual voice that is used to voiceover company productions that can range from ebooks, to demos, to radio and TV commercials, to event videos. More, some companies place little value in the video and voice of their corporate content. About that, I’m talking about the notion that turning on a smartphone camera is all it takes to produce compelling, thought-provoking, lead generating content that will attract and hold an audience. And what about simply transferring bad presentations into streaming media, thinking that will do the trick?

When is it too late? The moment somebody sees and hears your employees or multimedia content and realizes your prep and production values are garbage. Then hits the off button and tells two friends, who tell two friends…

5. Technology, Across-the-Board

Still running your Commodore 64 corporate laptops on IE7? Using software that’s outdated, not integrated, not maintained, nor supported? Still too cheap to consider the tech tools that can actually make your team more efficient and much more effective in their pursuit of identifying new customers, enabling sales, servicing customers, and winning new business?

The year is 2017, not 2009. The recession is long over and it’s the employees holding the job market cards, not the companies. The time for employees to accept less-than-minimal tech support from companies because of tough economic times and fear of job acquisition or loss is over.

When is it too late? The moment a company starts losing the competitive recruiting and turnover battle for talent.

It’s possible to extensively extend this list and go even further. Chances are that you’re aware of many situations where a company is being cheap at its own risk. Some executives turn away from the business suggestions and pleas from its employees, customers, and partners in order to short-sightedly save a buck or two. Some succeed at getting away with it. Others get away with it until something goes wrong, but then it’s too late and very costly.

Unfortunately, there are those who will only take action when something goes terribly wrong.

United investors and executives had every opportunity to listen and handle their business differently, but they chose another path – no matter what the slick on-board pre-departure videos produced over the years said. Their public relations failed. Their corporate #communications failed. Their #customer relations failed. And yes, they were cheap and arrogant about the whole damn thing.

Play it cheap, and gamble with your own business at your own risk.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Putting Your Sales Team, and Your Enablement Program, into the Presentation Gauntlet

Tony Compton, Managing Director

Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a post that combines Marcus Lemonis and Bruce Lee.

Last week, I wrote about how Mr. Lemonis debuted his CNBC TV show The Partner, and quickly put 10 experienced job candidates through an initial test: an impromptu, solo #presentation task two-and-a-half minutes in length in front of an unexpected conference room filled with several dozen well-dressed extras to go with bright lights, at least one television camera, and one senior-level decision maker. 10 candidates entered the room. All good people with solid, professional credentials. A few did alright, but most did not fare well. As executives, all should have been able to handle the task, but it was clear that there was presentation work to be done across the board.

In the third act of Bruce Lee’s unfinished 1972 film The Game of Death, Bruce’s character enters a pagoda with two associates in an attempt to fight their way up the building to the top floor. Standing in the group’s way is a martial arts expert on each floor. For Bruce and his friends, the object is simple: fight and defeat the bad guy on one floor, and move on to the next until they reached the top – where an indoor sunglasses-wearing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar waits in a dimly lit attic. Defeat Kareem, and it’s mission accomplished.

Unfortunately, Bruce died in 1973 before he could finish his movie, but material found over 10 years ago reveals about 40 minutes of footage unseen for 30 years. It shows how Bruce is the only one out of his trio capable of defeating the bad guys. His associates try to fight, but they’re no match for the pagoda inhabitants. In fact, at times they’re used as comic relief. On the #sales and #marketing front, this footage reminded me of how a senior-level account executive will take junior sales and marketing reps on visits to customer sites. The junior reps would stand no chance at closing a deal with major league decision makers – some arrogant enough to claim they eat salespeople for breakfast. But a more seasoned rep will walk out of these meetings with a signed contract.

Now combine observations and lessons learned from Bruce Lee’s film and Marcus Lemonis’ TV show.

I appreciated Mr. Lemonis putting the candidates through the presentation challenge, but the reality is that challenge was basic. Barely table stakes for any business leader. If executive-level candidates have trouble handling a short, surprise, professional presentation situation, they’ll have little chance of walking into and orchestrating any presentation scenario – planned or unplanned. No matter how good their sales enablement content is.

Now back to Bruce.

His Game of Death character was able to fight and defeat all pagoda opponents, no matter the fighting style or weapons they used. He was experienced, and prepared. His associates were not. No matter the style of opponent, Bruce’s friends couldn’t win. It was up to Bruce to save the day.

Now to your sales team, your sales enablement program, and the presentation gauntlet.

I view the premier episode of The Partner as an example of the senior-level presentation deficiencies which run rampant throughout the corporate world. I also draw upon my experience watching presentations of all shapes and sizes over the past 30 years. Early on in my professional life I used to be surprised at what I saw on the trade show, conference, webinar, and corporate event circuit. Not anymore. What I saw on The Partner confirmed my observations, and the same observations certainly shared by many of you reading this article. People need help in this area of professional development, and many companies either overlook it, don’t care, don’t want to spend the money or shortchange it, feel as if it’s not important, or leave it up to individual employees to fend for themselves. The real-world results speak for themselves.

Which brings me to the other side of the coin: salespeople (and marketers, and customer service reps, and executives, and IT pros, and numerous other departmental staff) who crave the help, practice, coaching, and continual improvement they need and want in their presentation game. Like the candidates on TV, and similar to those who benefit from content-rich support: your colleagues – at this very moment – are seeking options to improve their skills to better communicate and interact with audiences across multiple channels because the market demands it. The business world demands it from them, they need the skills to do their job, yet help is hard to find – if it’s available at all.

Your sales team equals the candidates on a TV show, working through a surprise presentation challenge in order to compete, and win.

Your sales team also equals Bruce Lee and his associates on a raid of a sales pagoda having to conquer different presentation formats and styles on each floor.

You, as an enabler, have to equip your people with #content and personal performance skills to succeed, and pass, every test. To advance, and win business.

My presentation gauntlet for your sales team is simple: a series of presentation challenges throughout the business day, using various styles and formats, incorporating sales enablement content made available to them. If I looked at a typical Outlook calendar day for a typical salesperson, I’d expect to see conference calls, in-person sales presentations, a webinar or virtual session, various internal and external #meetings, product #demos, partner activities, and on-camera, #video meetings. Maybe some booth duty at a trade show or even an interview with an industry reporter. Not only is it reasonable to expect that these type activities would fill the average day of the typical salesperson, it’s mandatory to see this on a regular basis.

Specifically, make an internal event out of the presentation gauntlet for a day or two. Imagine, one conference room in your office is set for your salespeople to conduct individual, executive-level sales pitches, the next, a webinar. On another floor, a larger room doubles as your trade show booth, while still another houses a laptop camera to mimic a video conference call. Employees play the part of the audience, and judges. Put your colleagues through the gauntlet of different presentation styles and formats. Score the performances. Mix it up and make it a competition. Have fun.

Prepare everybody, throw curve balls and surprises throughout the exercise, customize the activity, and practice the #communication techniques and personal skills needed to succeed in any format, in front of any #audience, with or without content, computer, and modern-day presentation crutches.

To be certain, while some high-performing closers will do well in an area or two, ways to improvement performances for all will undoubtedly present themselves. For others outside of #business development and not used to #publicspeaking, my prediction is that the gauntlet results will be even more revealing.

The other day, my friend and communication expert Bob Parkinson said something apropos on the subject of business presentations, a presenter’s physical and vocal skills, and communication effectiveness: “If it was all about content, we’d all be Shakespearean actors.”

The point is clear. Shakespeare’s content has been available to all for hundreds of years. Yet only coached and experienced actors can deliver a performance worthy of the material. Because it’s the skill of presenter, working with the content, that makes for an effective performance. Getting to that high-level of performance doesn’t just happen overnight, and the process of practicing, staying sharp, and improving performance never stops. Now more than ever, this applies to professional performance in the business world.

Just ask Marcus Lemonis about the ability to present yourself, your story, your brand, and your message. Then imagine what Bruce Lee would say about what it takes to prepare for competition, and to succeed and win.

Or maybe you could ask Michael Jordan, who was the first one to practice in the morning and the last one to leave at night – even while he was at the top of his game.

So now if you’re really enabling your sales team for success, and preparing them for any given situation, in front of any type of an audience, sign yourself and your team up for your internal presentation gauntlet. Observe the performances, measure the results, and improve. Because most aren’t doing this, and you’ll have a communication advantage over so many who are lacking.

Your team will love it.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Sales & Marketing Quotes I Didn’t Hear in 2016, and Shouldn’t in 2017

Tony Compton, Managing Director

The opportunity to immediately possess sales, marketing, trade show, online, business #communication, and social #media competitive differentiators exists. I’ve itemized a number of these problems that are just waiting for you (and me) to solve them. For one lazy reason or another, these problems are tolerated by many and lackadaisically accepted by others. They persist. But if you can solve any one of them, the business opportunities are endless.

Over 25 years of experience allows one to see and separate #marketing fiction, wishful thinking, #sales bravado, and wasteful corporate spending from smart business investments, real lead generation results, and the economic value and opportunities offered by improving functional areas of sales and marketing performance. To me, problems are hiding in plain sight and I’m not surprised I haven’t heard anybody say any of the following quotes in 2016.

Allow me to present a handful of evasive quotes, and allow them to describe the problems and opportunities:

1. “Wow. That seven-person panel discussion was AMAZING!”

First, I detest the overuse of the word “amazing” but felt it appropriate here. Second, I’ve seen pictures from recent panel discussions where three to six people are on stage sitting in chairs or on stools. I’m sure you’ve seen many of the same photos. All share the same slumped drooping body language of panelists with microphones in hand, often wearing the same business casual attire. No positive body movement on stage, no physical presentation energy. The audience sits, stares, and strains to listen. With the demand for more memorable event experiences, why do event producers still employ near-valueless panel discussions? It’s an educational session format relic from a long-gone event era. There are so many better ways to actively engage event audiences. (By the way, posting pictures of these panel discussions doesn’t help.)

2. “Our postage-stamp size exhibit with cheap misfit filler pieces DOMINATED!” 

If you’re going to exhibit at an event, own the event. Just securing a undersized booth space in the back of the convention hall and cobbling together a cheap presence with misfit equipment and misaligned messaging won’t cut it. If all you’re doing is throwing together an ineffective trade show presence, don’t. You’ll get the more value from just attending, shaking hands and making the rounds versus waiting for attendees to wander to the back of the hall to find you.

3. “That team was AWESOME jamming 100 slides into an incomprehensible 60 minutes!”

Make that an incomprehensible 55 minutes. Maybe even shorter. Whether its an online conference call or in-person presentation, an audience deserves better than a crush of unreadable sides while uncoordinated, multiple presenters with various levels of communication skill and preparation “pass the ball” around the virtual conference room. Worse is when 60 minutes are scheduled, but the presentation leader doesn’t show up until five minutes after the top of the hour to start the show. As if you’ll get through all of those slides anyway.

4. “The lackluster monotone #presentation of your media content is INSPIRING!”

It’s all about #content, isn’t it? But effectively communicating content doesn’t seem to matter to some. The predisposition to overworking mind-numbing text and slides is common, but spending quality time on the #audio or #video portion that accompanies web and #mobile material nowadays is frequently short-changed by poor production values. It’s easy to find business material produced by somebody using a cheap smartphone, camera, or microphone in a back office or spare room to simply “get it done”. Content is important, but presenting it involves how a person looks and sounds. When amateur efforts are employed and development is rushed, your content, and marketing, sales, and branding efforts will suffer in this new era of dynamic media.

5. “Video Marketing is EASY! All I have to do is turn on my smartphone!”

The way some go about #video marketing today is reminiscent of the way kinescope was first used in the 1940s. There’s a new wave of video #technology that’s hot and trending today, just as it was 70 years ago. But somebody needs to remind people that an audience still needs to find what’s being produced as interesting, entertaining, and informative. Nobody is going to care if your video is in HD, in 4K, and was brought to us via your smartphone and selfie stick if it’s not capable of holding an audience’s attention. There’s more to video marketing than simply turning on your camera, sticking somebody in front of it, and posting a video on Facebook.

6. “It was worth it to send our team to the good-time trade show and get NO ROI!”

Similar to the first quote, I recently saw two more social-media-circulated #convention pictures of healthy teams of people gathered in their company’s respective trade show booths. Happy. Smiling. Enjoying themselves. Displaying great forms of teamwork. Duly noted.

What I also saw in one picture were stacks of garbage-bound paper brochures sitting on a counter. Pens and other assorted giveaways that will go from the company, to the attendees, and to the dumpster. In my mind I also saw the expense reports for each of the on-site staff members and the invoices for the company premiums. What I didn’t see was bold and effective messaging in the booths. I also saw one booth’s position on the show floor. A wide-angle shot was needed to get everybody in that particular picture frame, and it’s safe to say that it would be an accomplishment if a healthy percentage of attendees eventually found their way to that company’s hideout (exhibit) on the show floor. Meanwhile, back at HQ, those event invoices, expense reports, event sales, marketing summaries, and staff pictures will be reviewed by somebody in charge. I’m glad everybody enjoyed their exhibit space, but I sure hope they brought home some return on that event and booth investment and minimized the waste.

7. “I’m glad marketing had NOTHING to do with our January sales kickoff!”

For those who need reminding that sales and marketing teams are disconnected, at best, and adversarial, at worst – here it is again. Marketing must produce economic value to sales, and the organization. To think that marketing can survive disconnected from sales and stay heads down on electronic devices is absurd. Marketing can and should play a #leadership role in sales kickoff activities. And they should hit the road with salespeople to see what works in front of prospects and customers and what doesn’t. I’ve learned that marketing may get one half of one chance to earn the respect of the sales team. And now is the time of the year to do just that.

8. “For inappropriately inserting POLITICS into your business, event, presentation, or #workplace environment so that half of your attendees/customers/employees feel uncomfortable and unwelcome… THANK YOU!” 

No explanation needed. Enough said on that one.

Each one of these unheard of quotes represents an opportunity for sales and marketing performance improvement. Even the last quote. I also realize that most marketers, business developers, conference producers, webinars hosts, and trade show managers have to work within the confines of constrained #budgets and limited resources, and that the vast majority do the best they can with the hand they’re dealt.

But these problems are all too common, and chronic, and they continue to persist to this very day. Present solutions for any or all of the above, and the business opportunities will present themselves to you.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

56 Years Later: Richard Nixon’s TV Debate Lessons Still Need to be Learned

Tony Compton, Managing Director

Welcome to age of streaming media. Of video, and its importance to personal and corporate branding, credibility, marketing, and sales. Welcome to the age where there’s a television camera in every pocket.

56 years ago to this day, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy squared-off in a downtown Chicago television studio for a U.S. presidential debate that still has much to teach us. If only more executives, sales people, marketers, subject matter experts, and all those in public-facing positions were willing to watch, listen, and learn the lessons of Richard Nixon’s debate performance in 1960.

The Kennedy/Nixon debate was a first for American presidential politics. Nixon went on television that night with a five o’clock shadow. He didn’t shave and looked tired. Kennedy, the opposite. JFK cleaned up well, smiled for the cameras, and appeared presidential. While those listening to the debate on radio thought Nixon won, those watching TV thought Kennedy won.

Appearance 1, Content 0.

Richard Nixon lost the presidential election in 1960, but even he couldn’t have imagined that the lessons learned from his debate’s black-and-white television broadcast 56 years ago would have such relevancy in our high-definition, mobile, go-live anytime, anywhere, streaming media world of today.

Problem is, these lessons still go largely ignored:

The President of the United States takes personal communication seriously, and so should you.

You and I have sat through more boring, text-heavy, content data dumps in mind-numbing presentations that we’ve lost track of the messages, and their meaning. This includes convention speeches, conference sessions, webinars, conference calls, online videos, demos, and sales pitches. But many business leaders don’t pay attention to their personal communication skills. Too busy to spend their time, not important enough to invest. Plus, their communication skills are good enough. Just ask them.

Name somebody more important or busier than the president, and we can discuss this one.

How you look and how you sound during a presentation, or an on-camera appearance, is more important than your content.

Yes, content is important. But we’re judged on how we look and how we sound. If you’re not prepared on both of those fronts, your content will suffer. In 1960, Nixon’s beard made him look tired. During a presidential debate in 1992, George H.W. Bush looked at his watch – if only for a moment. But he camera caught it, and so did the audience. The impression was that President Bush had to be somewhere else and didn’t want to be at the debate. He lost that debate, and his bid to get re-elected. If you look or sound tired, distracted, or uninterested the audience will notice – even if you have great content.

Richard Nixon got feedback, you probably won’t.

One benefit then-Vice President Nixon had was feedback. Nixon learned very quickly that the way he looked on-camera had a negative impact on the way he was perceived by the audience. Chances are that your audiences aren’t nearly as large as the one that watched the Kennedy/Nixon debate. Moreover, your audiences are probably composed of your friends, family, colleagues, partners, sponsors, and producers who will either say nothing (out of fear) or tell you what you want to hear because they either want your participation or money. Bottom line is that if you turn in a mediocre, lackluster, or bad performance you probably won’t hear about it. And that’s much worse than getting the honest feedback Nixon got about his debate performance. Ask for honest feedback before and after a performance, and act on it.

The Camera Sees Everything.

The audience also sees everything.
The audience also hears everything.
You should care about those things.

Had a bad day before going on-camera? Nobody wants to hear it.
Got little sleep? Save it.
It’s late in the day and your plane was delayed? … so?
It’s been a long day on the trade show floor and your clothes were winkled, your hair was a mess, your voice was shot, and it was hot inside the convention hall? Tough.

All that matters is how you look and sound to the audience. The audience doesn’t care about anything that may have happened prior to your going on-camera, or on-stage. If you choose to step in front of the camera for any reason, take the responsibility for your communication skills and be prepared.

By the way, most of what you’re doing in front of the camera is being recorded. Once that happens, it’s too late. Digital recordings generally last forever, and you probably won’t be in control of the content.

A Video Camera in Every Pocket

Today, you can use any smartphone and hold a presidential debate anywhere. Same for any corporate on-camera activity. Difference between presidential candidates and business people is that the candidates will prepare before going on-camera, while many executives won’t. Time after time I’ve witnessed videos from good people at trade shows and corporate meetings that have produced disastrous results. The world of streaming video and social media demands that we’re prepared to go on-camera anytime, anywhere, whether we like it or not.

The weekend build-up before tonight’s debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. It surpasses any Super Bowl pre-game coverage I can remember, and the ratings for tonight’s event will be historic. If there ever was a time I could sell advertising time for any media outlet covering the debate, today would be that day.

The lessons learned from the Kennedy/Nixon debate have always been a part of my marketing, media, and broadcast background. And there’s a reason why we’re seeing so much of it in advance of tonight’s Trump/Clinton debate. Televised debates were new in 1960. Back then, few knew how to use video to their advantage. Most did not. The same lessons apply today to those downplaying or blatantly ignoring the importance of personal communication preparedness in our world of social media, streaming video, and presentation readiness.

The candidates are preparing to go on-camera for tonight’s debate because the American presidency depends on it, as does their vision for the future of the country. They would never make the same mistakes Richard Nixon made in 1960 before going on-camera, but you see those mistakes made with regularity in today’s business world.

Richard Nixon’s lessons in going on-camera still need to be learned, 56 years later.


Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Finding #MyIndustry’s Future in the Sweat of Marketing Performance

Tony Compton, Managing Director

If any of the US presidential candidates saw me on a debate stage passionately fighting for my products, my services, my company, my family, my friends, my beliefs, and my country, they’d see me sweat, too…

In a good way.

In a passionate way.

It means I’m into the subject matter, and into the matter at hand.

You’d see it too, and you definitely would hear it.

But I’m not running for office, and that’s enough about politics.

Several years ago, I was fortunate to pick up two of the last remaining tickets to see a performance of The Iceman Cometh starring Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Those ‘last remaining’ seats were in the front row.

It was a treat to see that play. With four acts, three intermissions, and nearly five hours of performance, any production of that show severely taxes even the most durable of actors. Plus, the financials of such a lengthy stage event make it difficult to economically sustain. For a host of complex reasons, it can take years for this particular production to return to the stage. I read that people flew in from all over to see this rarity of the theatre, and I felt fortunate to have been in the audience.

The critics’ reviews of the play were overwhelming positive. One theme in the write-ups was that the actors added something extra to their performances. They upped their game to match the experience of participating in this rare opportunity. And it showed.

I read that Nathan Lane was proud of his role in this play. It sure looked and sounded that way. Watching the final act from the front row, not only could I hear his words, I could see his words. Lane put everything into his lead character, and through the upward-facing lighting on the stage lip, the emotional delivery of his defining speech was visible. That night, he left it all out on the stage.

When was the last time you did something like that in one of your presentations?

When was the last time you prepared to do that?

Doesn’t your audience deserve that from you?

It’s amazing how fast five hours flies by when you’re treated to an exceptional performance.

It’s also amazing to wonder why we’re not treated to more exceptional performances, and experiences, in our business lives.

Of Sloth and Stagnation

The current rigidity of sales, marketing, and executive communication skills has become disappointing. Look no further than the communication and presentation skills on display during typical, everyday business activities. I rarely see, hear, or feel the passion. Little sweat. The carefree and oblivious attitudes of the communication sloth and spotlight-stagnated cheat us all.

Working from home, people sit. People travel to the office, and sit. Coworkers sit. You sit in front of your computer. No doubt you sit in most of your meetings. You may travel to a trade show. Get to your booth, and sit. Attend a session, and you sit alongside your fellow attendees.

You get the idea, but this isn’t about walking around during the business day. I know many who are adamant about maintaining active, healthy lifestyles. But personal communication performance for business has now become much, much more than eating right and staying active.

It takes practice, skill, and a performer’s physical approach to bring content to life with personality, passion, attitude, tone, inflection, timing, and credibility. Moreover, it takes movement. Movement on stage, behind a microphone, even during a webinar.

Marketing’s Future Value through Personal Communication Ability

The business communication, public speaking, and presentation game has permanently changed. Mobile technology, and high-definition cameras in every pocket, purse, and briefcase have assured us of that.

Those in #myindustry need to know that their audiences await, right now. And if you don’t address them, somebody else will. Immediately. Facebook, Periscope, Meerkat, Blab are counted among those in the surging #livestreaming space. Few eagerly await email campaigns.

No marketer can automatically enter this competitive arena from an office environment which has slipped into a state of sloth and stagnation. No salesperson or executive, either.

Which brings me back to my main point about the future of sweat in marketing performance.

An audience deserves your best performance. Always. You don’t have to be a world-class actor or a physically fit marathon runner to be successful, but you do have to get out of your chair, stand up, and practice. Move. Ready your voice, your body, and your content. It doesn’t matter if it’s an audience of 1 or 1,000, make the audience feel your passion about your content and give them your best by bringing your content to life.

No actor would just stand there an read a script, so don’t just stand there and read your content.

My Communication Workout

I’ve started a formal entry into the world of professional voiceovers. It’s a helluva complement to the world of marketing communication, events, and sales enablement. What I’ve learned about myself is that in order to be successful behind a microphone,

I have to mark up my script well in advance, and prepare myself to move. To act. To bring my content to life.

Because for me, it’s that marketing sweat that brings content in #myindustry to life, and that personal sweat that I try to give an audience when I perform. I want to leave it all out there whenever and wherever I perform.

So should you.

To meet the demands of the new ‘round-the-clock and around-the-world audiences, we must.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Embracing Marketing’s Higher-Frequency Shifts in Audience Interactions

Tony Compton, Managing Director

If you know how to work a radio, you’ll enjoy reading this post.

And I know you know how to work a radio.

I grew up with the family radio over the kitchen sink tuned to a specific news, traffic, and weather station in the morning, and a sports talk station at night. Your home may have the same setup where the family radio in the kitchen or living room hasn’t moved in decades. And I’ll bet that radio still works.

Conversely, if you consider yourself hip and cool and don’t actually have a radio, I know you still have a device which allows you to access radio stations and podcasts on the web, and programming through any one of a number of apps.

Either way, the point remains the same: when you turn on your radio, you usually know where you want to go for music, news, traffic, weather, sports, talk, community, or religious programming. When you surf the web, or use an app to hop around to various programs or audio services, you generally know what you want to hear, and from whom you’ll get your programming.

Like a Radio Station, Your Marketing Has a Format

Though some radio stations share formats, even stations with the same formats don’t precisely mimic one another. Those who own and operate radio stations would never want to sound exactly like their competitors. Stations may sound similar, but they’re never going to be exactly the same.

Now add your marketing department to this mix.

The commoditization of worldwide marketing content and its pedestrian presentation overwhelms the masses, and numbs their souls. (Credit Gerry Goffin and Carole King with that last phrase from the lyrics to The Monkees’ Pleasant Valley Sunday.)

Today’s prevailing marketing mindset is to churn out generic looking and text-heavy content that actually mirrors much of the competitive field. Sure, logos will differ, colors palettes may differ, and company personnel are exclusive, but what else? There’s already a commoditization in so many technology and service offerings, but now it seems as if we can add the knee-deep commoditization in what’s produced by milk toast marketing departments:

  • Events, and their formats? The same since the beginning of time.
  • Trade show exhibits? Many commonplace, tired, worn, cheap, cookie-cutter appearances.
  • Presentations? Little has changed in the overdose of text-heavy, incomprehensible slides.
  • Presenters? The avoidance of personal communication preparation continues.
  • Corporate videos? An abundance of the pedestrian, slapped-together, and homemade.
  • Live streaming? Only a few brave men and women apply sound broadcast techniques.
  • Robust marketing campaigns? Need now. May have in 2018. Creative execution circa 1995.
  • In-person sales enablement and marketing alignment? Once a year. Twice a year, maybe.

It’s just more and more two-dimensional business content without personality, character, or any life. And in today’s world of vanilla content overload, more is needed for differentiation.

When Your Marketing ‘Radio Station’ Looks, Sounds, and Acts Like Everybody Else

You settle.

Whenever you surf the radio dial, you’ll inevitably run into numerous stations that offer the same type of programming. In most every city, audiences are able to tune into a number of news radio stations. But come ratings time, only one or two of these stations stand out high above the rest. Why? It’s generally the same news. But it’s exactly the same weather. And precisely the same traffic. One could even argue that it’s virtually the same content.

But it’s not just the content that drives ratings and builds an audience. It’s the content, plus the people, and all that goes into the on-air sound, presentation, image, talent and preparedness.

Again, add what we see today from global marketing departments to the mix:

  • Bland content and its cookie cutter presentation? Everywhere.
  • Distinction? Hard to find in websites that double as outdated corporate brochures.
  • Storytellers? Great writers exist, but compelling personal communicators are largely absent.
  • Lip service to the call for radical marketing innovation? All day, everyday.
  • Practitioners of the same? Some, but not many.

The Work, Production, and Outcomes of a Great Marketing Program Director

Let’s get on the same page with our marketing terminology. When you think of a marketing program director, you probably think of somebody who executes marketing campaigns. Somebody who writes well, produces various pieces of email, web, and short and long-form content, and proficiently handles website, CRM, social, and marketing automation technologies. These program directors itemize activities around scheduled campaigns, pop all of the proactive and reactive elements into the system, and go… Whew! That is a lot of respectable work. For the executives and the marketing illiterate, it’s tangible activity that’s easily explained. For sales, leads and opportunities should appear. For the outdated CMOs, they proudly report middle-of-the-road campaign results with the same bravado that Signor Roberto displayed when he told Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II that the widow’s “rent stays like before” … Only the outdated CMO now needs to see a reaction similar to the reaction in DeNiro’s smiling face that nonverbally informed Roberto just how out of touch he was with the realities of the housing – and who controls the power in the neighborhood – situation.

The “marketing stays like before” – indeed.

The (New) Marketing Program Director vs. The (Outdated) CMO

The stat thrown around about 10 years ago was that the average lifespan of a CMO was roughly two years. According to a Wall Street Journal blog in 2014, that lifespan went up to 45 months. But looking forward, I think that the new marketing program directors will shorten that timeframe for outdated CMOs, and lengthen their own tenures.

You see, at a radio station the program director is seen as more than somebody who randomly allows disparate bits of uncoordinated and homogenized content on the air, hosted by ill prepared talent. A radio station program director is somebody who cares deeply about creating a unique image and sound for their station. A radio program director is somebody who will work with their talent on a regular basis to ensure that a high-level of communication proficiency is continually offered to the audience. The audience they are attempting build and maintain.

Applying those same techniques has become critical to any modern marketing operation.

CMOs now have to program audio, video, and written content, and address worldwide audiences in a real-time manner.

CMOs must embrace those real-time interactions, and realize that creative personnel with developed communication talent is needed to work with produced content in front of live, multichannel audiences.

CMOs must lead the creative effort to breakout of the commonplace content framework, and into radical – if not revolutionary – branding, awareness, and execution tactics.

Because for those outdated CMOs don’t understand that, aggressive, sales-oriented global marketing program directors certainly do.

They’ll produce in 24 months what some will never produce, even in 45.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

The Communication #SkillsGap That Demands Your Immediate Attention

Tony Compton, Managing Director

For those trade show managers and event planners looking for the personal communication #skillsgap that demands your immediate attention, start here.

It’s time to re-examine – and possibly overhaul – your approach to trade show staffing and individual communication preparedness for your events. Simultaneously, you’ll need to work on your company’s trade show booth appearance and general exhibit environment. That’s because your exhibit has taken on additional duties as doubling as your worldwide theater, branded backdrop, global soundstage, and corporate video studio. No matter the size.

Ready or not, the on-site people, partners, and customers supporting your trade show exhibits are rapidly becoming on-camera spokespeople. They may even be impromptu spokespeople, demo presenters, slide sharers and corporate storytellers. They’re also playing the part of extras in your company videos, and the videos produced by others who are outside of your control.

Addressing the communication #skillsgap found in every member of your on-site events team may be the biggest challenge you face this year, and there’s a lot of room for improvement in this facet of your sales and marketing communication game.

The 2015 Event Tipping Point

Shooting videos at trade shows, conferences, and industry events is common, but last year’s onslaught of new streaming media platforms and live video apps has put all event planners and attendees on notice. Nowadays, most show attendees carry smartphones with built-in cameras, while many reporters carry professional-grade video equipment and smartphones. Inside of these two groups exists a growing number of social media power users who are broadcasting live from events and exhibit halls – largely without warning.

Periscope and Meerkat made their streaming media market entrances in 2015. Those apps enable anybody with a mobile Android or iOS device to broadcast live from any show floor on a moment’s notice. I’ve read that Facebook Live for business is likely to make its debut in short order. Moreover, I could make a case for using the “Brady Bunch” style Blab video platform at an event. But in this post, the platforms themselves are somewhat irrelevant. It’s the fact that live video streams from exhibit halls can happen anytime, anywhere, on any platform, and may encircle or directly involve your show presence. Yet little or nothing is being done to inform or prep event staff about these cameras trained on your booth, and your people. Moreover, it should now come as no surprise to anybody in the events industry that all of the elements of a company’s event appearance play increasingly important roles in global branding and communication efforts.

More Complicated and Much Riskier Event Situations

It won’t be long until your company is back on the beat exhibiting at its own industry gatherings, but things have changed right under your feet. The experience for your on-site staff has also permanently changed. Every single booth staffer is in the camera cross-hairs, and is at risk for being put on the spot by anybody who approaches with an active video. New viewers are now watching, and that may include your customers, prospects, analysts, and competitors. All can grab a box of popcorn and watch live video streams originating from your next event.

Overcoming the Communication #SkillsGap for Two Fronts

You’ll be able to plan for the event videos that you know are forthcoming, but you won’t be able to plan for the event videos that come as a surprise. Keep in mind that this is both an internal and external challenge. Internal because unless you have a corporate policy that tightly controls the usage of live streaming apps, inevitably somebody from your company will turn on their camera. It’s bound to happen, and without a plan to address live streaming media from events, it’s open season for wannabe broadcasters. And you can guess the quality and content of that video feed. It’s an external challenge because cameras will now be coming at you from all angles. The good news is that you can prepare your team with the communication skills they need to be able to handle any video situation which may arise on a show floor.

Do this by:

1. Closing The Personal Communication #SkillsGap

The days of booth staffers attending events and just hanging out in the exhibit have ended. Everybody inside your booth is now continuously on-call for unexpected live videos and must be on-point. Every person who occupies space in your booth must be appropriately attired, and fluent in the ability to articulate consistent messaging, communicate powerful content, and expertly navigate presentations. Yes, they must be ready to go live, on-camera, on a moment’s notice and know what to do when the situation presents itself. And if you take your event staffing and communication preparedness seriously, this comes as a natural extension to team readiness.

2. Preparing Your Exhibit and Its Environment

Answer these three questions:

  • How many times have you seen overly-wordy pop-up banners in a trade show booth?
  • Or an exhibit backdrop that so crowded with text that a magnifying glass was needed to read it?
  • Or a sloppy booth backdrop with a previously-folded fabric that was hastily erected?

Those three questions barely scratch the surface about the visual issues which could compromise the appearance of your booth, which will end up on live video for the world to see.

Then answer these three questions:

  • Can your team handle live, on-the-spot interactions with content, presentations, or demos?
  • How will your booth staffers appear in the background of broadcasts, and recorded video?
  • Does your team know what to do to control your exhibit environment for any video production?

Those three additional questions only begin to open the conversation about a comprehensive approach to managing your exhibit environment. Just think about all of the other booth elements and staff interactions which may end up on live video.

3. Planning Your Own Event Broadcasts

There’s no better way to address the communication #skillsgap and event preparedness challenges than to plan your own on-site videos and live broadcasts.

Recall the last time you had a booth at a trade show. If you had a 10×10, remember the cell block row of exhibits that allowed each pedestrian exhibit to bleed into the next. If you had a larger booth, think back to how attendees cut through some of neighboring big booths because tumbleweeds led the way through the unoccupied and wasted space.

In any case, conduct your own event broadcasts to dominate open exhibit hall hours and fill down time by creating a “showtime” booth environment with clean, crisp messaging conducive to video. While the other exhibitors are talking to each other or playing on their phones and laptops, you’ll be standing out on the show floor, attracting a crowd. And getting your events team ready for live or recorded event videos will equally ready your team to be confident and interactive with exhibit hall attendees.

For the Creative, the New Broadcasters, the Content Creators, and the Event Innovators

You, my friends, have little to fear. You saw this week’s announcement from Twitter, now embedding live Periscope videos in tweets on iOS devices. You’re already on top of your game with a sound social media policy, event strategy, and staff communication plan. You also have a robust event game plan which addresses the ability of your team to converse on and off camera with videographers, reporters, customers, prospects, partners, and general attendees. You understand what your booth image means in person, and on video. You’ve planned for event programming which enables you to frame industry issues and counter videos produced by competitors. And you’ve made your events team powerful communicators, presenters, and lead generators as part of their exceptional employee experiences.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com