A.M.Sall's Motivational/Inspirational Ramblings
Amadou M. Sall - The Cross-cultural Connector, author, translator, coach, success mindset philosopher
Friday, April 30, 2010
The Future Of Finance Shifts From West To East (and South!) :The Cross-cultural Connector
Emerging markets are now driving the global recovery, and new emerging markets – the CIVETS! – will soon be joining the BRICs!
The CIVETS? What’s that? Click to Find out, and then come back here to tell us what you think
Amadou M. Sall
The Two Vital Attributes of Quality Content | Copyblogger
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” ~William Morris, poet and designer
Imagine the household you would have if you got rid of every item that was neither useful or beautiful.
Gone would be the plastic doodad with no known purpose, the ugly frame your great-aunt gave you, the Special Free Offer™ you never opened, the collection of someday-useful peanut butter jars . . .
Every room would be so much more pleasant to be in, and every tool so much easier to find.
What if you applied the same rule to the content you wrote? Every email, sales letter, blog post, and comment you wrote would have to be useful or beautiful. Or both.
Does that sound a little . . . scary?
Most copywriters are fine with this, in principle. (Remember the first law of content marketing? Every piece of cookie content should reward the audience for reading: by solving a problem they have, or by entertaining them. Sounds pretty similar, doesn’t it?)
The main problem people have with this advice is they don’t trust their own judgment. They’re unsure if what they’re writing is useful or beautiful.
And of course, some people are certain their writing would make James Joyce weep and Dale Carnegie gnash his teeth, while their readers are wondering what this pretentious and useless fluff piece is all about.
Are you unsure? Never fear! Here are some guidelines to help.
How do I know if my content is useful?
1. Write content that suits your audience
Your content must match your audience’s level of understanding. Experts won’t consider entry-level content useful and beginners won’t get much use out of advanced discussions.
Your audience must have the required resources — time, energy, money, potato chips — to use the content. Telling new parents about a relaxation technique that requires eight hours a night of uninterrupted sleep? Not useful.
Your content must relate to something your audience cares about. I’ll never find content on how to dress in corporate style useful, because I don’t care about dressing in that way.
2. Write specific content
Generalisations aren’t useful.
Scooters need oil on a regular basis.
Specific and useful:
Refill your scooter’s oil tank to the indicator line with two-stroke motorcycle oil every third time you refill the petrol tank.
3. Write actionable content
Useful content creates action.
If your readers don’t do something as a result of reading your content (change their mind, buy something, tear up their desk calendar, dance a boogaloo, write a better headline, pick a fight, talk to their children, set a goal, start a collaborative experience), then the content wasn’t useful.
Your content must encourage, advise, mentor, support, bully, or dare your audience into acting.
And you must, must, must include a call to action in every piece of content you write.
How do I know if my content is beautiful?
This is the point where people get uncomfortable. Don’t worry! You don’t have to produce sonnets to write beautifully.
Experiences that provide pleasure or meaning are beautiful.
Johnny B. Truant writes posts that are beautiful, although he’ll likely laugh in your face and pour jam down your pants if you say so. They’re beautiful because they’re funny and vigorous and meaningful.
If you’re not Johnny, here are some tips. (If you are Johnny, hi Johnny!)
1. Write meaningful content
If you write your content with emotion, it’s more meaningful.
Ever read a “Thank you for subscribing” email with sincere gratitude in it? (I read one that was so beautiful I saved it. Really.) If your feelings don’t match the anticipated emotion it’s even more effective: an angry product review, an excited tax letter, a sympathetic auto-responder . . .
Be vulnerable. Instead of writing about the mistakes some people have made, write about the mistakes you made. And what they meant to you.
Write about the bigger implications. Fixing a dripping tap is ordinary. Learning to perform house maintenance as a sign of your new independence is meaningful.
Real benefits are meaningful. Creating more wealth, more connection, more options, and more purpose are some of our most meaningful activities.
2. Write pleasurable content
Write to inspire emotion in your readers: make them smile. Make them cry. Make them wistful. And make sure they know they’re not alone in feeling that way.
If you know your audience well, you can write mass communication that feels personal, where every reader thinks you’re psychic because you’re writing Just For Them. Everyone enjoys the pleasure of feeling understood.
Use the tools in your linguistic toolbox to make the writing entertaining: play with alliteration, hyperbole, rhythm, flights of fancy, metaphor, perspective, storytelling . . . whatever feels natural and unforced to you.
It’s hard to beat the pleasure of seeing your name in print. Praise your readers in public, hold them up as an example, thank them, or mention them as an inspiration . . . and do it by name.
Do you want to take it even further?
Think of a piece of content that’s critical to your success, like your sales letter.
What if you applied the same rules to every paragraph of that content? What if you judged every word?
If you wrote your sales letter and removed every word that wasn’t useful or beautiful:
- You couldn’t use weasel words like “actually” or “amazingly” or “absolutely.”
- You’d have to use evocative, beautiful words and images.
- The writing would be muscular, short and punchy (Like Hemingway would write it).
- You’d become a thoughtful student of copywriting, so you knew how to make each word as useful as possible to create the result you want.
- It would kick ass!
Do you think you could improve the usefulness and beauty of your content? Tell us how you plan to do it in the comments!
About the Author: Catherine is wicked passionate about helping people to start and grow an awesome website: she’s even published a manifesto about it. When she’s not adding five-minute missions to BeAwesomeOnline.com, she can invariably be found on Twitter.6Share -->
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Sunday, April 25, 2010
Translation and Software Localization Blog: Quartz or Mechanical?
The first quartz watch was introduced in 1969 promising more accurate and less costly ways to produce watches. Shortly after, the higher frequency crystal used in quartz technology allowed for a few seconds per month inaccuracy versus the few seconds per day of the best mechanical watches. Electronic parts were also much cheaper to produce than finely-tuned, hand crafted mechanical parts.
By the 80s, quartz watches overtook the watch-making industry prompting many experts to predict the end of the hand-made mechanical watch.
Similarly, in the 1950s and 60s, work began on developing computerized machine translation engines. Initial results looked promising prompting many to predict the near end of human translators. After all, if a 5 year old kid can speak multiple languages and interpret them, sophisticated computers can sure do the same.
Half a century later, with phenomenal advances in computing technologies, software and mathematical algorithms, the best machine translation engines still cannot surpass human translation accuracy. They don’t even come close! Yet many pundits continue to predicting the demise of the translator and the translation industry!
Yes machine translation technology has advanced and yes some solutions produce the gist of the meaning via rudimentary and often laughable translations. But what most forget is that often consumers are not just interested in getting the meaning. We are interested in the overall experience!
To prove my point, take an online book in a foreign language in a subject that you care much about and run it by the best machine translation engine and let me know if you do take the time to read and enjoy it. My guess is that you will put it down after only reading the first few pages. Style, elegance, harmony, character, personality, spirit, soul, vitality and passion will continue to matter as long as human beings do the reading! Do you think a machine will ever be able to capture or depict that like humans can?
Despite the huge success of the quartz watch and its hands-down more precise performance, today most Swiss hand-made mechanical watch makers still flourish. I own three mechanical watches and only one quartz watch. I wear my mechanical watches everywhere except when I am engaged in sports activities−and that is mainly to protect them!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Four Search Engines For Marketers
You’ve heard of search engine optimization on sites like Google, Bing, and now even Twitter; the question is, what’s next? Marketers in the digital age need data and content, and there are lots of innovative tools coming out to organize the vast amount of stuff that’s out there. Here are four search engines that will be making huge waves in search by 2012:
OneRiot – The Real-Time Search Engine
The Pitch: “OneRiot crawls the links people share on Twitter, Digg and other social sharing services, then indexes the content on those pages in seconds. The end result is a search experience that allows users to find the freshest, most socially-relevant content from across the realtime web.”
Why you should pay attention: OneRiot gets roughly half a million visits per month, according to data provided by Compete and Quantcast. That doesn’t seem like much, but it doesn’t count the traffic from Yahoo real-time search (which OneRiot built) and mobile real-time traffic through a service called Taptu. The company also recently launched an ad network that provides ads based on the trending topics of the moment.
How marketers can use OneRiot:
- Track keywords in real-time – One of my clients has two natural soda brands, so I use the term “natural soda” to stay up-to-date on news and trends in the industry and across the web.
- Find influencers – OneRiot shows you who tweeted the story first, indicating who the influencers for your keyword phrase are.
- Find publications to pitch – OneRiot shows you which publication published the popular story – you can use that information to create a list of publications you want to target.
- Follow your industry – Use keyword searches to keep track of breaking news about or from your competitors that you may need to respond to.
- Find information your fans/followers would appreciate – Use keywords to see what articles are popular and relate to your brands, then tweet them from the brand’s account.
- Create content people like – OneRiot is the ultimate source on how to write popular articles in your niche – you can learn a lot by studying the articles that are coming to the top and emulate the style and formatting.
Check out OneRiot at http://oneriot.com
Wolfram|Alpha – The Computational Search Engine
The Pitch: “Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything.”
Wolfram’s Alpha version allows users to compute their search engine results, rather than find links that will give them the information. For example, you can use Wolfram to find the phase of the moon from the day you were born in just seconds.
Why you should pay attention: Wolfram gets about half a million visits to their website each month, similar to OneRiot. Their iPhone app is priced at $50 $1.99 (formerly $50 because it can replace your graphing calculator, and then some). The computational aspect of Wolfram is powerful, and the visual organization of data is a great tool for any marketer.
How marketers can use Wolfram:
- Integrate visual data into your company blog, website, or presentations – Infographics are a great way to demonstrate a point, and Wolfram is capable of creating very pretty ones.
- Conduct market research and make comparisons – You can compute lots of information about various companies and products in seconds – for example, type in “Big Mac vs. Whopper.” You might be surprised how much data there is.
- Build separate website properties that are useful to your consumers – There is opportunity to partner with Wolfram to create a niche-based search engine for your company, or even a widget that can be embedded into your site. An application is if a company like Enterprise wanted to incorporate a widget that let users calculate the distance between two cities with one-click.
- Create an internal knowledge base of data – Wolfram’s corporate services include setting up an internal search engine that can store and compute company data. You could capture accounting data, marketing data, line production data, and more with this service.
- Analyze corporate information for faster, data-driven decision-making – If you had accounting, marketing, or line production data at your fingertips as an analyst, imagine how much faster and more in-depth you could do your job.
Check out Wolfram|Alpha at http://wolframalpha.com/
Book of Odds – The Research-Driven Content Provider
Pitch: “It is a destination where people come to learn about the things that worry or excite them, to read engaging and thoughtful articles, and to participate in a community of users that share their interests and ambitions. It contains hundreds of thousands of Odds Statements, from the odds of being the only one to survive a plane crash, to the odds of having a heart attack, to the odds of having ever eaten cold pizza for breakfast.”
Why you should pay attention: Book of Odds is a search engine three years in the making that helps people learn more about the odds of every day life. It’s not getting much traffic now, but I think the potential as both a research and credibility tool as well as a marketing too is quite strong.
How marketers can use Book of Odds:
- Brainstorm ideas for your company blog – Book of Odds takes you places you don’t expect to go. I hang out here sometimes when I’m stuck on ideas for my blog or when I just want to learn something completely new.
- Integrate visual data into your company blog, website, or presentations – Like Wolfram|Alpha, Book of Odds is a great place to find data-driven visuals.
- Find funs facts to incorporate into research and reports – For example, “The odds that an adult is a baseball fan is 1 in 2.22″ has to be useful somewhere in your career, right?
- Suggest odds about your company or brand – Can you imagine if this tool had been around during the Harry Potter craze, when everyone was trying to figure out the odds on various characters dying? You can come up with tons of ways to tie your brand to odds, and Book of Odds has a tool to submit the information directly to it’s search engine.
Check out Book of Odds at http://bookofodds.com/
Evri – The Contextual, Widgetized Search Engine
Pitch: “Evri’s automated content delivery capabilities will help you drive up user engagement, increase page views, and decrease costs. Our platform is designed to help you solve tough problems.”
Why you should pay attention: Evri gets roughly half a million visits per month and has partnerships with major news sites like the Washington Post. Evri also recently acquired the web semantics talent of search engine start-up Twine, which helps you “join groups based on what youíre searching for and connect with people who are searching for the same things.”
How marketers can use Evri:
- Get a visual mock-up of all the latest news on one keyword – Evri is a bit like a newspaper that only talks about one subject – the keyword you give it. It incorporates videos, pictures, headlines, blog posts, twitter updates, and more into a mash-up that quickly gives you a snapshot of the subject you’re searching about.
- Get data on keywords over a 30-day period – for larger search terms like “Tiger Woods,” Evri let’s you browse through the keyword trend history for the past month.
- Put contextual results on your blog or website – Evri offers corporate and partner services to bring more functionality to your website and provide users more content value.
Check out Evri at http://evri.com
Have you heard of any other good search engines out there? As marketers, what other search engine tools do you want to see in the future?
Monica O’Brien is the author of Social Pollination: Escape the Hype of Social Media and Join the Companies Winning At It. She also serves as the Director of Digital at Fizz, a word of mouth marketing agency. You can also read Monica’s blog, Social Pollination.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010
Why Worry Keeps You Poor (And How To Fix It)
T&I Business: Translation World Records
Considering how the world's history of translation is tied so closely to the world's religious history, it should come as no surprise that several of the world records for translation are tied to religion. Here are a few:
Language world records in translation
- Most language translations for one book: the Bible holds this record. According to United Bible Societies, as of December 31, 2007, the entire Bible had been translated into at least 438 languages, and at least some portion of the Bible had been translated into at least 2,454 languages.
- Most translated author: this depends on how you define the record. Based on various criteria, there are several "most translated authors." See the full explanation here: World's Most Translated Author
- Most translated movie: the JESUS Film Project has made a film based on the Gospel of Luke into the most translated film in history. As of May 2009. the official site claims the film has been translated into more than 1,050 languages.
- Most translated magazine (with simship): The Watchtower is published by the Jehovah's Witnesses in 174 languages and "all these editions are translated and printed for simultaneous release."
- Most languages simultaneously interpreted for a single event: As of October 2008, the World General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is simultaneously interpreted** into 94 languages twice each year.
**Interestingly enough, most of the conference is "simultaneously synchronized" in 94 different languages as most of the speakers have submitted their talks/sermons for written translation by professional and semi-professional translators (or the interpreters themselves) prior to the conference. This prior translation means that many of the "interpreters" can read most of the talks in synchronized timing with the speakers. That said, translation is not complete for all 94 languages before the conference begins, and much is still said "on the fly" during the conference, which must then be simultaneously interpreted by volunteer linguists for attendees and the live worldwide broadcast.
- Most translated website: Wikipedia.org is in 200+ languages (verification needed)
- Most translated corporate website: Google.com with 124 languages and counting(including a few artificial languages like Esperanto, Klingon, Elmer Fudd, and "Bork, bork, bork!") as of May 2009
Financial world records in translation
- Largest translation contract: $4.6 billion contract for 5 years to provide translation and interpretation services to the US Army. ($4.6 billion maximum value and $3.5 billion current awarded value in 2008)
- Largest translation company: Global Linguist Solutions, a joint venture between DynCorp International (NYSE: DCP) and McNeil Technologies, currently holds the world's largest translation contract, formerly held by L-3 Communications (NYSE:LLL) (Titan), and therefore has annual revenue in excess of $500 million, estimated at $691 million in 2008.
- Largest localization company: Lionbridge at $461 million in 2008
- Largest phone interpretation company: Language Line Services at $212 million in 2008
See additional financial information on public translation companies here.Are you aware of any additional world records in the field of translation and interpretation? Or should an of the information above be corrected? If so, please comment, and then subscribe above via email or RSS so that you are notified when the list is updated again.
Last updated May 29, 2009
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Going Global: Is an Online Strategy Enough? | International business strategy | global
Has recession in your home market hit the bottom line?
Never fear, salvation is at hand.
All you need to do is translate your web site into the appropriate language to tap into those lucrative foreign markets.
In the ‘flat world’ of the internet, if you build a local presence overseas, they will come.
Worried about telephone enquiries in a foreign language? Just get your local call centre to manage those for you. Email enquiries? Google Translate can take care of those.
Just sit back and watch your profits grow. It’s that simple.
Or is it?
Don’t Forget your Offline Strategy
Lucas Jons (CC) www.flickr.com
The internet appears to have lowered barriers to entry into foreign markets. But has it really meant easier access to overseas customers once the ‘inconveniences’ of language and culture have been overcome by the marketeer?
The OECD Survey (2009) “Top Barriers and Drivers to SME Internationalisation” outlines some of the reasons why your international website might not make you a multi-millionaire overnight. Especially if you haven’t thought in detail about the offline bits of your international marketing mix before taking the online leap.
SMEs in advanced economies faced the following challenges when going global, according to the OECD survey:
- Shortage of working capital to finance exports
- Problems identifying foreign business opportunities
- Limited information to analyse/locate markets
- Inability to contact overseas customers
- Obtaining reliable foreign representation
- Lack of managerial time to deal with internationalisation
- Lack of staff training for or experience of internationalisation
- Difficulty in matching international competitors prices
- Lack of home government assistance/incentives
- Excessive transport costs
- Failure to develop new products for foreign markets
- Unfamiliar exporting procedures/paperwork
- Failure to meet export quality standards or specifications
Despite the advent of international eCommerce, small business is still facing the same diseconomies of scale and high transaction costs that it has always endured. We can’t all be Amazon.
But how can nimble SMEs and microenterprises overcome these offline challenges to their online business plans?
Seven ‘Offline’ Tips for Online Success
It may seem obvious but you need to consider how your international marketing mix addresses each of these offline challenges before you design that shiny new overseas web presence. You’d be surprised how many firms fail to do this.
by Amasc (CC) www.flickr.com
Like the firm who spent thousands of euros on a web site, trade shows and print to promote a complex B2B product in Japan but had no Japanese speaking engineers to convert the leads.
Of course, localising your web presence is an important, final step in any international business strategy. But it is surprising how many firms rush into an online strategy without thinking through a detailed marketing mix.
This can have unintended, expensive and unpleasant consequences –not least of which is ballooning web development costs as your website gets reworked when these unaddressed challenges emerge after the site launch.
Remember, you will need to think about how you will:
- build a ‘world ready’ business organisation
- research a clearly quantifiable, profitable and reachable target market
- source adequate finance
- identify cost effective distribution channels
- recruit a reliable in-country representative
- devise a local pricing strategy
- develop relevant products or services that meet local quality standards and local needs.
And you should probably do this before you telephone your web developer.
Now that shouldn’t be too hard now, should it?
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Multilingual SEO: Things to Remember | Search Engine Journal
Google has recently done a series on the usability of multilingual websites and it got me thinking about multilingual SEO. How do you, in fact, optimize the same website for keywords in multiple languages?
But let’s start with the core basics. In simple terms, a multilingual website is a website that has content in more than one language. And such website has a lot of on-page stuff that is often done wrong. Let’s take a look at some common issues:
1) Language recognition
Once Google’s crawler lands on your multilingual website, it starts with determining the main language on every page. Google can recognize a page as being in more than one language but you can avoid crawler confusion by doing the following:
- Stick to only one language per page
- Avoid side-by-side translations
- Use the same language for all elements of the page: headers, sidebars, menus, etc.
Some web editors create code-level attributes automatically but these attributes are not very reliable, so keep in mind that Google ignores all code-level information (from “lang” attributes to DTD (Document Type Definitions) during language recognition.
2) URL structure
A typical pet peeve of SEO but even more so with multilingual websites. To make the most of your URLs, consider language-specific extensions. Language-specific extensions are often used on multilingual websites to help users (and crawlers) identify the sections of the website they are on and the language the page is in. For example:
This is a great way to organize URLs on a multilingual website because not only does it help the user, but it also makes it easier for the crawler to analyze the indexing of your content. But what if you want to create URLs with characters other than English? Here’s how to do it right:
- Use UTF-8 encoding for non-English characters
- Make sure your UTF-8 encoded URLs are properly escaped when linked from within your content
i.e. if a URL contains an é, which is a non-English character: http://www.website.ca/fr/contént.html
here’s how it will look properly escaped: http://www.website.ca/fr/cont%C3%A9nt.html
- But if you have to escape the URLs manually, use an encoder such as one from Meyer Web or look for others
It is important to note that Google directly extracts character encodings from HTTP headers, HTML page headers, and content. There isn’t much you need to do about character encoding, other than watching out for conflicting information – for example, between content and headers. While Google can recognize different character encodings, use UTF-8 on your website whenever possible.
3) Crawling and Indexing
Another common area of focus for SEO. On multilingual websites, follow these recommendations to get more pages crawled:
- Avoid redirects based on user’s perceived language: they could, in fact, prevent both users and SEs from looking at more pages on your site.
- Keep the content for each language on separate URLs
- Cross-link page by page
Last but not least, please remember that Google does not recommend automatic translations.
By getting the on-page basics right, you will set a great base for your multilingual SEO in the future and, unlike so many others, you will not have to beg (in multiple languages) SE crawlers to come and index your content.
Cross-cultural Communication Strategy – the 4 Building Blocks :The Cross-cultural Connector
Your Ultimate Cross-cultural Communication Objective: Achieve Global KLT (“Know – Like – Trust” on the Global Scene)
As a cross-cultural marketer you communicate to create and enhance Global KLT. You communicate about product or service benefits and features. You communicate to influence and persuade. You communicate to foster and develop connections and relationships across borders and cultures – both before, during, and after sales: Marketing, PR, Social Media, Sales, CRM…
Communication is all-pervasive, because “Commerce is Communication”
The 4 indispensable elements for a successful cross-cultural communication strategy:
I. The Global Mindset
II. Global Knowledge
III. Global Skills 1: Cross-cultural skills
IV. Global Skills 2: Business Skills
I. The Global Mindset
“We would define a global mindset as one that combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to synthesize across this diversity.”
Adopt a “world-is-my-market” strategy. Let the Global Mindset inform everything you do and add strategic power and depth.
Upgrade your firm from reactive (ad-hoc international activity based on client inquiries, management interest, and inquiries from potential overseas partners) to proactive (strategic, consciously planned business development, quite the opposite of a “hit-and-run” going-global type of activity.)
II. Global Knowledge
Know the world, the Global Marketplace, your place of action, because you are a Global Player and the Whole Wide World is your Playground. Your judgment, thoughts and actions are all soundly based on “objective knowledge”. You know what’s going on in the World…
Global Trade/International Trade
Free Trade/Open Trade and Protectionism
Legal Environment/Regulatory Issues
Foreign Government Incentives
Transportation and Logistics
Global Issues (e.g. Climate Change, Global Warming, etc.)
The Global Elite
Big Picture Thinking
III. Global Skills 1: Cross-cultural Skills
Ability to understand, work with, and influence people from other cultures. Know your own culture as well as other cultures. Cultivate the ability to spot and make use of both similarities and differences between cultures.
Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
Cultural Competency (G. Hofstede/F. Trompenaars/Michael Bond/Milton Bennett/P. Rosinski, etc.)
Cross-cultural Deal making
Global Content Management
IV. Global Skills 2: Business Skills
Hone your skills and ability to Select your market, to Choose your market entry strategy, to Research your market (Market Intelligence), to Define and Implement strategies: Cross-cultural Marketing, PR, Social media, International Business…
CRM/Customer Relations/Customer Retention
These 4 elements are the basis of our activity on The Cross-cultural Connector blog, Facebook Page and Facebook Profile, Linkedin Group and Linkedin Profile, Twitter, Google Buzz and on many other venues online.
We also use these elements to build our products and services:
- Cultural Awareness Training
- Coaching and Consulting
- Books and ebooks
- Podcasts and Video
- Public Speaking
- Translation/localization, Transcreation
Now you possess the Mindset, Knowledge, and Skills to achieve your ultimate goal of Global KLT. Once you have reached this goal, you can say: “the sky’s the limit”, and nothing will ever stop you because, whether domestically or internationally, people will always follow this eternal law of business: “People prefer to deal with and buy from people they know, like, and trust” (Note the repetition of the word “people”, because ultimately, Communication is a “people thing”)
You have more than enough material here to define and implement your own highly successful cross-cultural communication strategy or, if you are not the do-it-yourself type, just get in touch with us: we are here to help.
Now a couple of questions before we go: Is there anything you’d like us to add here? What are your biggest cross-cultural communication challenges? What can you tell us about your going global experience?
Please give us your feedback on all this.
Amadou M. Sall
Sunday, April 11, 2010
“Factors Affecting Cross-Cultural Communication” :The Cross-cultural Connector
Friday, April 09, 2010
7 Truths About Social Media Marketing » Techipedia | Tamar Weinberg
Even though social media isn’t new to many of us, the world is waking up to this new shiny toy. Thanks to books like The New Community Rules, written by yours truly, Engage, Social Media 101, and others, social media marketing is, for the time being, going to still be on people’s minds as they discover this bright and sunny marketing opportunity.
But despite the vastness of opportunities that social media affords, it’s just one channel in a series of many. We should still tackle some realities about social media marketing before you get too excited about its potential.
Social Media is Not a Silver Bullet
Social media is currently all the rage because it’s new. But let’s be honest here. It’s really not that new. In fact, I’ve been offering social media services for 4 years now, well before most even knew about the potential of social media or believed in the promise of the technologies. In other words, if you’re diving in right now, you’re out of luck — you’re a late adopter. Do you know what that means? Without creativity in your marketing plan, its will be a lot harder to make a splash.
Once you fire up your social media strategy, it doesn’t travel as fast as that silver bullet either. Social media is a lengthy, tedious process. Most of social media relates to relationship building, which is a time-consuming process. Have you ever become someone’s best friend in a week? A month? Three? Trust is earned and building trust takes time. If you’re going to participate in social media marketing, you better be prepared to wait. Brands that are already established naturally have it a lot easier; they already have a following. If you’re a new face in the crowd, people will be especially skeptical of who you are and why you are here. Those ten B2B leads you get after the first few months are ten leads you would not have gotten otherwise. If you keep at it, that number will double and triple, but you must keep at it.
Social Media is More than Just Twitter and Facebook
Hopefully, if you’re participating in social media marketing, you’re using more than just the tools everyone else is using. Sure, most social media marketing plans often start with the obvious contenders, such as Facebook and Twitter, mostly because the audiences there are so vast and diversified that you’re bound to find people interested in your product offerings. (Of course, you’ll still need to look once you’re there, do outreach, and perform whatever else it takes to build a loyal following.) However, you need to articulate to your client or marketing teams that social media is not just about participating on Twitter and Facebook. Some additional tasks might include niche social site promotion, blogger outreach, photo sharing, generating leads through business and consumer networks, contests, viral video, phone meetings that follow online correspondence, face to face meetings resulting from online networking, attending events and conferences, backchannel communications, and more.
If your client approaches you and says that he’s disappointed that the marketing initiatives only include Facebook and Twitter, it’s time to set up and manage expectations — and prove that you’re doing much more than just what’s viewable to the public — before it’s too late. The online world is vast and it is often your responsibility to cover as much ground as you can to be effective in your marketing efforts.
Numbers Aren’t Everything
Over-zealous clients or enthusiasts might feel the need to absolutely reach out to the “influencers” who have eleventy billion Twitter followers. The truth is that those numbers don’t often mean anything.
It’s more important to look at the holistic view of the individual or entity on Twitter and across other social channels. If someone has over 20,000 Twitter followers, how many people are they following?
- If there’s a near 1:1 (even distribution of 20000 friends and 20000 followers) ratio of friends to followers, chances are that this person is reciprocating every single friend request. It might even mean that the person might have gone out to find more followers.
- If there’s a 2:1 ratio (20000 friends, 10000 followers), that might be something to worry about; why isn’t it even? Are your potential followers not interested in your tweets?
- On the other hand, a 1:2 ratio (20000 friends, 40000 followers) could also raise red flags. I’ve seen countless “experts” and “celebrities” reciprocate every single incoming friend request only to later purge everyone. The numbers, consequently, get artificially inflated, and these guys look like rockstars.
Research these potential influencers to get a handle on their credibility. Look at their status updates on Twitter (are they substantive and value-added or are they only coming from Twitterfeed?). Check if they have a home base. Don’t just take the public facing Twitter numbers at face value. See if the individuals behind the account are engaging their followers.
Keep in mind that having lots of followers doesn’t always mean anything. The more important thing is to connect with the right people who could potentially help spread your message to more of the right people.
Social Media is Social
This is quite obvious, but hear me out. Social media is more than just broadcasting. It’s about connecting and networking. Every so often, a potential client comes to me and asks me to promote a blog post or article, mostly because they don’t have an audience for the blog post to spread on its own. For blogs, the answer is simple: your blog should be treated as more than just a platform to self-promote. Blogs must be marketed in order to be successful. It doesn’t end after you hit “publish.” You need to network with like minded individuals and build relationships with people in the blogosphere so that you ultimately get inbound links, comments, and visibility. Sure, you can just pay someone to promote an article here and there, but at the end of the day, people are not regularly reading your content. In other words, you as the blog’s writer (or blog representative) need to go out and build bridges with people in relevant fields. If you write for an animal shelter, start talking with pet owners and local businesses to help each other. If you write for a sports blog, you have hundreds of similar sports blogs to choose from. There’s no shortage of opportunity to connect with the right people.
If there’s one recurring theme that I feature here on Techipedia, it’s the fact that social media marketing relates to dealings with other individuals. That would not be possible without building relationships. Each outreach attempt should focus on strengthening and building bonds, not on overly promoting yourself. Come bearing gifts, focus on being altruistic, and then your marketing message may be heard more loudly than if you don’t. In fact, in the latter scenario, it’s possible that your marketing message may not help at all or even hurt you.
Social Media is Continuous
Let’s say you meet a guy at a dinner party — we’ll call him Mike. Mike’s daughter is selling hot dogs to raise money for her school class. The immediate day after you meet Mike, he starts calling you and emailing you with requests to help his daughter out. (You don’t tell him you’re a vegetarian.) After the window is closed for the fundraising effort, Mike disappears and you never hear from him again.
This story parallels one of the main issues facing social media. Social media is a continuous effort, not something that is only campaign-based. Campaign-based social media marketing only works when it complements continuous social media marketing. In other words, don’t show up in the social space only when you need a hand. A few months ago, I worked on a campaign for a rather large company who did some video promotion to get individuals to spread the word. Many of the bloggers and influential Twitter users, however, wanted to promote the client’s Twitter account, because there’s a simple expectation that companies, at this day and age, should have a social media presence. The problem was that the client had none. The video was all they had.
Commercials and one-off viral promotions are great, and you should use them regularly if you want to boost the creativity of your presence online and offline. However, make sure that you have a real corresponding presence online, be it for simple outreach or for regular customer support. And at the very least, claim your identity on the applicable (and at the minimum, popular) social media communities before someone else does whose presence — under your name — could be detrimental to your marketing efforts.
And get your account started and active immediately. You don’t want to create an account to use only when it’s too late. Be proactive, not reactive.
Social Media is Not Free
When you were a kid, you probably wondered why road infrastructure projects cost in the billions or that nature preservation programs cost millions. Heck, the real question you probably had was “why does everything cost so much money? What are people paying for when the supplies seem very cheap?” The answer, quite simply, comes down to the real cost of labor. Equipment and supplies might be relatively affordable, but at the end of the day, you’re paying for time and possessed expertise. That expertise often comes in the form of someone else’s profession, and as such, nobody will want to do the work for free.
Yes, Twitter and Facebook and Digg and other niche sites cost nothing to join, making social media a relatively free marketing option. There are no barriers for entry and everyone can participate. There’s one catch: you end up spending time on these networks, and that’s where the money starts adding up. After all, time is money.
Social media marketing seems affordable compared to other marketing, especially television, print, and even pay-per-click marketing or CPM-based advertising, but the biggest fallacy as it relates to social media marketing is believing that it’s something that you can do quickly and affordably. Yes, it’s cheap. It’s not cheap in your time investment.
Social Media is Often Permanent
Everything you do and say online can be used against you. Those mistakes you make when blogging could harm your reputation because search engines do not easily forget, and negative messages can be spread like wildfire thanks to the potential of the Internet. If you reveal trade secrets or confidential information, you might be out of a job today and tomorrow when a future human resources representative finds out about your past infidelities.
As representatives of companies, your personal brand should align at least professionally with your company brand. That’s to say that if you use a public forum to insult, attack, or demean others on your personal time, you may find that impacting your company by association. If you blog or post comments, you should make sure it adheres to your company’s social media policy. Companies do not want to be associated with individuals who can singlehandedly take down the company because they easily forget that there are ramifications to their actions online. Don’t lose sight of this and remember that everything you say or do can potentially be used against you. Think before you post, act professionally throughout your interactions, and you’ll be just fine.
The Golden Truths
Social media marketing requires dedicated, devoted individuals who can aggressively seek opportunities in highly populated communities. It’s not something that you should outsource to a recently-hired intern as there are risks when there is no policy compliance, but more importantly, when there is no synergy between the individual and the company s/he represents. Should you proceed either in-house or by outsourcing, you need to respect that social media marketing is a process, requiring a substantial investment of time, and thus, money. Continuing your social media involvement beyond simple campaign spurts is critical, if not highly recommended. And keep your eye off the pure numbers; look instead at practical measurement.
It comes down to social media being something of a chore. Truth be told, it is. However, if you get truly invested in the process, you can find some substantial gains — but you need to be ready and able to overcome the misconceptions and understand a little more about what social media truly is before you start reaping the successes of your labor.
Photos by Shutterstock.-->
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Culture :The Cross-cultural Connector
Culture and the Individual
Two Definitions of Culture
Much has been said and written about culture. Consider the following:
According to Harris and Moran (1987), “culture gives people a sense
- of who they are,
- of belonging,
- of how they should behave,
- and of what they should be doing.
a learned, shared, and interrelated
symbols, codes, and values
direct and justify
So we can easily see: identity, community, morals and ethics, social responsibility, security, directions, way of life, and many other things…
For Hofstede culture is “the software of the mind” and he defines three levels of “mental programs”:
1. “The universal level of mental programming which is shared by all, or almost all, mankind. This is the biological ‘operating system’ of the human body, but it includes a range of expressive behaviors such as laughing and weeping and associative and aggressive behaviors which are found in higher animals.”
2. “The collective level of mental programming is shared with some but not with all other people; it is common to people belonging to a certain group or category. . . . The whole area of subjective human culture. . . belongs to this level.”
3. “The individual level of human programming is the truly unique part—no two people are programmed exactly alike, even if they are identical twins raised together.”
The Multi-layered Individual
As human beings we are all multi-layered, highly individualized creatures. Whatever we say to each other must first go through these layers, which in fact act as a filter. How it is understood depends on this “filter”
But the beautiful thing here is that this programming can be changed at the individual (or even collective) level. The individual has thoughts, feelings, emotions, aspirations to happiness, willpower, the possibility to choose, i.e. to be influenced. And that is where you come in, as a marketer and/or communicator. That is also the reason why you must seriously study culture and cultures, both your own (“Man, Know Thyself!”, said Socrates), and the culture of whoever you want to communicate with.
Once you reach out to the individual, across cultural constructs, it becomes possible, indeed easy, to talk to each other, relate to each other, work together, exchange ideas and feelings, share knowledge and skills, build relationships, strike friendships across borders and cultures, sell to each other and buy from each other…
Mastering any part (a few words in the langage, pacing, etiquette…) of the foreign culture can draw yo closer to the individual. Let’s face it: The locals will not expect you to be as fluent as they are in their own culture. They know you are a foreigner, even though you are a human being, just as they are.
So, just be genuine and authentic, sincerely and empathically show readiness to learn. Start from what we all have in common, because “we connect based on our commonalities and we enrich each other based on our differences”
Reach out for the individual, observe, pace, ask the right questions and above all, listen and empathize.
Amadou M. Sall
Friday, April 02, 2010
Tim Berry: In Business and Speaking, Silence Can Be Golden
Do you recognize the Simon & Garfunkel song, The Sounds of Silence? It's a sad song about loss. But silence is also golden. It's a powerful tool in business and life. Learn to use it.
The best speech I ever heard in person was delivered in Mexico in 1973 by Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president who was assassinated a few months later. He spoke more like a poet than president, particularly as he delivered a speech about economic change, at the University of Guadalajara. He used voice cadence and change beautifully. His speakers voice grew softer and emotional as he talking about the harsh underground life of the copper miners. Then he paused, using the silence. Then he turned up the volume and emotional resolve as he insisted on how things had to change. It was brilliant. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. And the silence was part of it.
I learned the power of silence in negotiation back in the 1990s when I spent a week of every month in Tokyo. I was going to do business planning seminars for Apple in Japan and the Apple managers involved had the sense to get me some special tutoring from Dianne Saphiere, an expert in crossing cultures between the U.S. and Japan.
Dianne said that the Japanese culture appreciates and respects silence as part of a conversation. Westerners, on the other hand, hate and fear silence. We call it awkward. It drives us crazy.
Silence can be as simple as a matter of respect. The person who understands and uses silence might be indicating that you've made an important point, so he or she respects that by waiting to respond. You, however, have to avoid fearing silence and forcing a response. Wait for the silence.
Dianne said that sometimes a Japanese person will win concessions from an American simply by not fearing silence. For example, the American breaks what seems like an awkward pause by lowering the price, thinking that the silence is disapproval. The Japanese person, however, was simply respecting the importance of the offer.
Since then I've often seen how silence can work as a tool. As you talk with somebody, and particularly in negotiations, use this to your favor. Take your time.
Follow Tim Berry on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Timberry
“How to Connect Globally With Social Media” :The Cross-cultural Connector
An awesome post from Cindy King’s blog (Cindy is my “Cross-cultural Marketing Hero”)
Do you know how to use social media to target a global audience? After all, social media provides a low-cost solution to engage your prospects, customers and partners located in different regions of the world.
As Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Company, says, “U.S. brands looking to leverage social networks internationally know that while their messages need to stay consistent regardless of the region, the language, cultural reference points, platform and tactics, all need to be tailored for each market.”
He continues, “Whether it is customer service, IT, HR or product development, there are a number of uses for social media. And when you add to that all of our constituents—customers, employees, shareholders, dealers, retirees—it becomes a very complex assignment.”
Here’s a look at a few of the difficulties and how you can overcome them…
The Information Available
In the past, statistics on social media were difficult to come by and they were not always relevant. But there are more Internet statistics available today even for social media. McCann’s Wave 4 Power to the People report is one resource available to gain insights into how to use social media internationally.
The trouble with an international social media strategy, as Erik Qualman of Search Engine Watch points out, one size does not fit all. Having more relevant statistics does not get you very far. You still need to learn how to adapt what you do on social media to effectively connect with people in other countries. And before you can do this, you need to know a bit more about what social media is like over there.
Social Media in Different Regions of the World
A good place to start is to look for general insights into the social media environment in the places you would like to reach.
The Nielsen report Global Faces and Networked Places clearly explains why localization has won the day in many countries and says, “Succeeding in China takes more than producing a translated version; it requires investment in a local infrastructure and a mentality of running a Chinese social network that understands the domestic nuances of social network behaviour rather than simply rolling out a generic social network in Chinese.”
Here are more insights from two social media players well-known in their own countries:
Have a look at this interview of Laurel Papworth in which she gives an analysis on what’s happening in social media in Australia and Southeast Asia.
Fred Cavazza says, “The main differences in France’s social media are based on the local offering and local players: Dailymotion, Skyblog, Viadeo, Dofus, BlogSpirit, CanalBlog, OverBlog… and there are 3 distinct groups in France around culinary, political and IT gadget blogs.”
(Read the Whole Story)
Thursday, April 01, 2010
“International Markets: Stars, Cash Cows, Question Marks and Dogs” :The Cross-cultural Connector
In the 70s, the Boston Consulting Group developed the product life cycle matrix to help companies analyze their product portfolios for the purpose of strategic planning and effective resource allocation.
They divided products into 4 groups:
1. Low relative market share and low market growth rate: They called it a “dog” and recommended phasing out these products.
2. Low relative market share and high growth rate: They called these products a “question mark” and recommended investing in some.
3. High relative market share and high growth rate: They called this category a “star” and recommended heavily investing in them.
4. High relative market share and low growth rate: They called it a “cash cow” and recommended maintenance only, milking the product till it turns to a “dog” then phasing it out.
BCG emphasized the need for companies to have a product portfolio that contains products in all of the question mark, star and cash cow quadrants.
Fast-forward to the globalization era. Your geographical market portfolio should match your product life cycle matrix portfolio!
The same techniques and principles can be applied when appraising your international markets and how they rank within these four quadrants. Based on that, you can decide on the amount of resources to apply to product localization. (Read the Whole Story)