Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Conference: How to Magnetically Attract Customers

Yesterday I attended the first annual marketing conference of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Haifa and the North, entitled "How to Magnetically Attract Customers". It was held at the International Convention Center Haifa. There were over 300 participants, mainly from Haifa and the North, but some from other parts of the country.

The conference was opened by the Mayor of Haifa, Mr. Yona Yahav, who spoke about the municipality's recent Internet innovations, followed by the President of the Chamber, Mr. Gad Shefer, who announced that this would be the first annual marketing conference the Chamber organizes, so it will become a regular event.

The first lecture was by Dr. Yaniv Levyatan, on social media marketing. He described the various social media sites, and the difference between interruption marketing and permission marketing. David Friedman of the Interdisciplinary Internet Center spoke about the new model of marketing, involving dialogue with customers, niche target audiences, interaction and extensive information about customers. He noted that the number of blogs now equals the number of other types of websites. Maor Kaplansky spoke about personal branding, and how to create an online presence in just 3 hours a week: one hour creating content, one hour networking, and one hour syndicating the contents. He recommended buying your full name domain, which is something I'll have to look into. Then we heard from Liron Mor, aka Video Wonder Woman, about using video for marketing. She made a huge impression as someone who had achieved success at an early age, through her authenticity and openness.

After a break, we heard Dr. Dan Herman talk about short-term strategies, arguing that long-term success is a series of short-term successes. Things are changing so fast that people have less brand loyalty and are driven by the fear of losing out to try new things. Instead of aiming for customer trust, marketers should now try to create enthusiasm for short-term brands, and think in terms of opportunities, not just goals. Then, Silvio Pinko of Clickim spoke about affiliate programs. Josepha Edman (who was one of the conference organizers) gave an advanced talk about social media optimization, automizing and syndicating content, which was probably above the level of many participants, but gave an idea of what is possible. Doron Hayout of BPI spoke about location-based applications and the use of Google Maps. While in some cases it could be useful to have services provided based on my current location as known from my mobile device's GPS, there are privacy issues that need to be addressed. Who will be able to know and store data about the location of users at any given time? Ronny Gorlicki told us the story of marketing the Quicktionary. The session ended with a talk by Amir Hardoof, promising us 5 secrets not taught in business school. He spent half the time giving testimonials from customers who had made money quickly following his method, and spoke about the importance of addressing the customer's emotions. He ended by a very hard-sell pitch for his set of CDs and a conference, which angered most of the audience, as it went against most of what we had been hearing all day about not using hard-sell, and it seemed very inappropriate for a conference like this. Also, he went overtime just before the lunch break, something no speaker should do!

After lunch there was a panel giving their personal take on the theme of attracting customers. Solly Anaf spoke about the importance of listening, liking and showing empathy towards customers. Adv. Orly Sapir Sehayek (who is my lawyer and a former member of my BNI chapter) gave some legal advice about marketing without breaking the law (being careful not to offend, not to violate privacy, and to get permission), and described the importance of the human relationship between individuals in business. Andre Suidan of Special Reserve wine shop in Haifa described attracting customers by providing added value in free events (in this case, wine tastings) and specialist lectures and courses. Hila Rom, of the Get Green website, explained how customers now expect businesses to do something for the environment, and that investment in creating a greener business is a win-win situation. We then heard from two lecturers at WebSem. First, Mickey Lerner explained how to use Google AdWords for niche marketing. Then Asaf Paz explained how to make good landing pages that create a good immediate impression.

This was an informative conference, and most of the speakers were entertaining and interesting. The organization was slightly marred by the late start, necessitating shorter lectures than planned in some cases, and the inevitable tension between the lecturers wanting to give their full prepared talk and the organizers' and audience's need for the conference to end on time. One lecturer was unable to attend after being involved in a traffic accident on the way. I look forward to seeing what I can implement from the things I learned, both in my translating business and in another venture I am planning. I hope to attend next year's marketing conference.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mastermind Conference

Yesterday I attended the First Mastermind Conference in Israel, held at the 09 Conference Center in Kfar Sava. About 70 people attended.

This conference was organized by Ronnie Dunetz, who has created the DunetzMastermind system, and his team of Mastermind group leaders, known as the Masters of Mastermind.

Masterminds are groups of business professionals who meet to help and support each other. The idea originated in Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich, first published in 1937. Hill researched the secret of the success of many business leaders, and discovered that they all participated in groups of peers who consulted each other regularly.

I have been attending one of the Mastermind groups for several months. We meet about once a month, and one or two members share a business or management issue they are facing, then the others make suggestions. It is more than brainstorming, since personal and emotional factors are taken into account. The meeting also includes other positive exercises, and the atmosphere can be really supportive and encouraging. The members come from many different types of business, and are at different stages in their careers and personal development.

The conference started with a presentation by Ronnie Dunetz, describing the system for audience members new to the subject. He led an exercise in pairs, which showed the power of working together. Then the seven group leaders presented themselves.

Then, the participants split into groups of 6-10, and each group held a sample Mastermind sharing exercise. I had been asked to present an issue for discussion, and I was pleased with the feedback and support I received.

After a break, we heard a lecture on Positive Psychology by Prof. Oren Kaplan. I have heard him lecture before, at a BNI event. Among the insights I gained from this lecture: Happy people have at least 3 times more positive than negative thoughts; variety is not necessarily a good thing; when you decide to do something, willpower is not enough, and it is better to turn it into a habit, for example, by scheduling time for it every day or every week. Finally, people cannot improve from their weakness, they can only do this by concentrating on the successes in their lives.

The conference was well-organized, with everything starting on time, and all the stages thoroughly prepared and designed to showcase the power of Mastermind. The atmosphere was positive, and I had the satisfying experience of both learning a few new things and reinforcing much I already knew.