iSocial Community by Maria BM

Maria (Boux) Morganti

Organizing a Global Trade Fair …and survive — 12. April 2017

Organizing a Global Trade Fair …and survive

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EuroShop is over, finally, and I need to write something now before I get slammed by the numbers of new projects that I am starting already. Organizing and managiging an event has always been my dream, so I was glad I had to opportunity to test myself with it.
I was part of the Team (made of 4 People) who organized the EuroShop2017 trade fair participation of our Company Checkpoint Systems. We had a 100 sm booth in two Levels with Catering, product Demos, a Lounge and a whisper room. I was in Charge of the communication, visuals, booth layout and all Marketing activities related.

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Do we need Europe Job in Marketing? — 7. May 2016

Do we need Europe Job in Marketing?

Of course yes-but why? The most obvious answer is  because we are in Europe!

In reality the answer is more complex than that. Almost every country in Europe speaks a different language (even Switzerland and Germany speak two different Germans), and when it comes to spend money and time to produce content and materials Europe valid, it comes always the question. Is it worth?  What if then every country change them localizing them? Why don’t let each country do their own things?

When it comes to multinational company, there are of course guidelines and strategic inputs from Headquarters (whenever they are) and every local market should try to use them as similar to original as possible. Theory is: just translate and use them. But this is almost always not possible. As Europe is so fragmented and inside-different, every country tend to localize the message more than just translating it. The way communication acts in Germany is not the same in France/Italy for example. Visual is for France / Italy much more significat than it is in Germany. While in Germany and german speaking countries, wording is the absolutely stronger and most important part of a communication piece. Trying to combine visual and text in one message is not always so easy – therefore only a solid message that combines those aspects together is effective and emphatic everywhere (if you’re interested this is a good article presenting the case of a wrong message that doesn’t fit all).

 So, again, the question, why should every large Company have European coordinators if every Country acts and creates their own things?

  1. Europe Headquarters: for sure every company organize their own events and fairs. And even if a little modified, why not using the same materials for more than one local event? Here it comes the need of a European warehouse to stock all materials and stand accessories (roll-ups, furniture, visuals…). Someone would have to coordinate this place and deliver things where they have to. Organizing and rationalizing the resources ensure cost saving.
  2. Lots of customers are nowadays either worldwide or at least European. For example in the Retail world, 90% of the major retailers in Europe have stores in more than one country. This shows how crucial it is the need of sharing information outside their headquarters. Especially when it comes to products portfolio and pricing, company have the necessity to uniform and align.
  3. The Online-World eliminates borders. When we think of buying something online, we almost never know where it comes from and more often than we think, is not in the country where we place the order from. Thanks to the new online technologies, we are not longer “far way” from each other in Europe. So we not using this capability proactively? Creating activities and campaigns at Europe level enlarge our audience and our probability of success.
  4. Europe service are still not so easy to find. Agencies and companies able to follow and support customer across Europe are incredibly difficult to find. Millions of local agencies exist, but quite a few work out of their boards. And if they do, it is for sure not reaching the whole Europe. Serious agencies that are able to provide services such as marketing, communication, graphic, printing, self-training, education… that have resources and experience at Europe level are extremely hard to find. Experts that can overcome this empty space extremely important.
  5. Europe is the future. Moving across Germany, Italy, France and all other countries (and I mean also UK, even if they don’t like to hear it) is nowadays easier and easier. More and more people try new lives abroad, reinventing themselves a job or studying new languages. This is happening, liking or not. Considering this, as European experts, we can contribute exchanging our expertises and molding ourselves around new styles and cultures. I’ve already talked about this here.

 

 Of course who takes responsibility roles Europe-wide has to be aware that communication and adaptation is the key. The ability to communicate efficiency and openly within different group of people and organizations is a must (like I say here). We, as Europe Managers, have to overpass our “local” attitudes and be able to relate and collaborate with different styles and approaches, based on the culture we are working with. In the same time, we should use our own personal skills to improve and benefit others.

From the amazing Book – that everyone who works at international level should read.
When Cultures Collide: LEADING ACROSS CULTURES” –
– Richard D. Lewis

Listeing

Why would you like to hire an Italian in your office? — 15. March 2016
Why would you like to hire an Italian in your office? — 11. March 2016

Why would you like to hire an Italian in your office?

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First: I hate stereotypes and prejudices and I find disrespectful to judge someone only based on the county/city/place he/she comes from.

Besides, I experience myself that being European is now more important than being “Italian” or “German” or any other nationality. As already said, we are getting more and more alike, with same habits, problems and experiences.

Nowadays the world, and Europe especially, is going towards uniformity and mix. Even languages tend to mix and level to the same one, which is of course English. So it is very no accurate to speak about nationalities differences.

Anyway, exactly for these reasons, what is still difference a country from the others, should be evaluated and taken care of, because it will soon disappear. It will come much sooner that we think that time when those differences will be really gone and it will be a pity. If we think about our grandmothers and fathers, how different they were from us and how much more deeper in the local culture they were than us. The trend was already visible by our parents, they started to look at the outside world, to meet other foreign habits, to eat new food, to travel, to want for us more internationality. Yet this process is completely established and I would even say we are in the new era of the everywhere is here and the life is in one merging world.

 

Considering all of this, and the continuous migrations of people all around Europe, I would highlight what still make us “Italians” different and why those local aspects could be beneficial outside Italy. And what best example than in company/business world? International companies hunt more and more in other countries for talents, especially now that English make much more jobs possible everywhere. And what does it mean for us “Italians”? How we should present ourselves when seeking for a job outside Italy? And why a company would want to hire us? Hey, I am not saying those things are all qualities and we’re very far from being perfect (:

 

Here why a company outside Italy would want to hire an “Italian”:

 

  • Normally we are in a good mood. Of course there are Italians who are angry or grumpy, but I would say the probability to find one that is not that high, especially if he/she left his country to look for a better like. Italians who decided (of needed) to move are even more in a positive attitude, because they needed to do it. We might not be the greatest English (or other language) speakers but surely we bring sunshine in the office. If you want a little fun in your business, also when stressed and problems occurs, you call us. Italian light the atmosphere.

 

  • As said, we are not so good in languages. But we do get there we want to be. Somehow, using hands, arms, smiles, face expressions, we make ourselves clear. Sometimes even too much, but as our culture is based on communication, we make sure people understand what we want to express. Nothing being “unsaid” or miss-understood with Italians. We put out everything on the table, with no filters. That is especially good in multicultural environment.

 

  • We are loyal. Italians care very much about relations and if a company trusted in us, we give it all. We wouldn’t let our company/bosses down, especially if they were the one made the expat possible. We would even renounce higher paid offers to not disappoint our companies. It might seem stupid (and sometimes it is) but surely it is beneficial for whomever hired us.

 

  • Italians are perfect mediators. Looking at our history, we are very used to have to deal with other cultures that from time to time wanted to invade and control us. Our special geography position made us very expert in dealing with strangers and mediate from what they wanted to establish and change. Also we have great skills to be in between strong forces and maintain a neutral position but always friendly. In position of leadership this quality is very much appreciated.

 

  • We don’t mind working long hours, but we do love breaks. Yes, Italians sometimes like to chat and waste a little time, especially in conversations drinking Espresso o Caffe Macchiato. That serves to create PR and improve relations within work peeps. But it is true also that Italians do not mind working long hours and finish late. Actually they don’t feel good leaving early the office. Of course it might be a problem to integrate this habit in a more serious and concentrated space.

 

  • Italy=creativity (+ Confusion!). The equation is correct, normally Italian are very creative people, not only taking about the pure artistic creativity, but also finding new ways of solving problems and thinking out of the Box. This lateral thinking is very useful in specifical branches and it is critical in problem solving, of course it goes along with the confusion. Sometimes schedules are not respected and Agenda are at last moment completely changed. This is surely a downside.

 

See we’re not only good in cooking Pizza and Pasta?
It wanted to be a fun post on how a little Italian taste can make your office/company happy. Of course completely taken from my own experience ((:

italian mode

 

This year I won’t! — 24. December 2015
What a cell has to do with communication? — 19. December 2015

What a cell has to do with communication?

cellule

What is a Cell? Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things. What does a single cell do alone? Not that much. What do cells do when they’re together? A combination of cells together transform a single unit to the most complicated and yet powerfeul organism that is a human being. It is only the unification of different elements that bring things in reality.

We are US only in relation with OTHERS. Us as human beings, exist only if we exchange with the external. Our personality is such, because it is established through experiences that have impacted and molded it. Those experiences come from the exchange (positive or negative) with other individuals. Even the most solitary people, after period of loneliness urge the need to go back in a society and interact again with human being . The movie “Into the Wild” of Sean Penn is a great biographical movie that testimonies exactly that.

“Happiness only real when shared” – Jon Krakauer

What does it has to do with the iSocial being then? It has a lot to do. Nowadays people communicate more and more not only in person but using lots of different virtual ways. And communication must develop and adapt accordingly. Behind the screens and the online profile there are people, with feelings and emotions like us. We are not used to substitute the verbal communication in writing, as we were always taught in school to write to explain things, the majority of us have learnt a descriptive way of writing. But with the new technologies in development, the need is now to write as you were talking, and interested the reader as well as if it was the listener. Not so many people/companies are ready to take their communication to that level. More importantly, not some many companies yet understand the need to do it. Or if they do, they might not have the right people to do it.

Talking about what products you do or which great solutions you offer might interest or not. Talking about the experience of other people with that product/solutions, thinking with the readers in mind, not the product, is how companies should communicate now.

The Empathic Social Network movement says:
“The world is always changing, but our generation was born into a world in which letters were handwritten and has come of age in one in which everyone on the planet is only a click away. I this new environment, we need to communicate with greater precision to overcome language and cultural barriers that separate people of different nationalities”
(http://www.tootoom.com/en/ – from the Empathic Social Network).

And I add we need to learn how to interest the others, how to transfer emotions and create exactly virtual empathy.

The iSocial philosophy (and myself) is trying to exactly that. Urging the importance of being in the net and offering food of thoughts of new way of communicating in Social Medias. Including graphics, animation, videos, image, sounds…and In the future way not, smells, touching, and who knows whats’s more.

Life is a set of relations. Without others, we would not be who we are. Reality is an allusion, relations is wha

Living abroad: are we really strangers? — 22. November 2015

Living abroad: are we really strangers?

charles-darwin-quoteIt’s 8.30 o’clock in the morning and I am in the office. I have already interacted with people in 3 different languages (4 if you include my kids childish wording).
I speak with my kids and my hubby in our native language Italian, then I bring my kids to the Hirschhorner Kindergarten where I talk to the german teachers, and finally I arrive in the office and start my normal working activities in English. This is my life and like me, everyday millions of people do the same, struggling between difficulties and happiness, jugglering between Sadness and Joy. Definitely we all push ourselves out of our comfort Zone very often. I’m lucky enough that I could chose this life and I was able to make it (thanks to the great opportunity my company gave me). But I can image how hard it must be for people that have no choice but going away and have to escape from where they live. And here it starts the new life as a “stranger”.

My question today is: What is stranger at the end? Borders are only inventions of humans. If there were no boards I would had lived closer to Heidelberg than to Roma. Without borders people would have had much more connections and probably we, as population, would have been closer. Maybe conflicts could have been avoided. I realized that similarities are much more than differences within us humans nowadays and globalization is bringing us acting more and more the same way. We eat the same food, we drink the same cokes and smoke the same cigarettes. We live with Smartphones in our hands and take the same planes to travel. We work in the same way, using the same tool and many customer are even the same ones.
So why are we still much talking about differences and yet nobody talks about how much do we have in common? Is it something more like an habit than reality? Are borders these days changing their meaning? If I can go 600 km far away in an hour, would that impact my sense of distance? My believe is YES, absolutely. And it is impacting in a good way. The more we connect, the more we know each other, the more we unify. Migration is not about invading, is about connecting.

I could see though that despite the good willing, some people can’t adapt to what’s new anyway. Maybe they don’t have the strength or they are not motivated enought, but many strangers keep themselves “strangers” in the real sense. Thus I can understand why, I don’t agree.
Once I have met a 50 years old man who has been living in Germany for 25 years and still is not able to ask one single question like “how old are you?” in German! Not surprise if he also complains about how “cold” Germans are, of course you don’t understand what they say! Plus you don’t even engage yourself a little in learning the language of the country you live in, what do you expect from the people around you? I must say I hate this attitude so much.

So far in my life I had lived two “integrations” and I would like to share what has helped me to make it working. My 5 Tips for an Expat to facilitate his integration in the new hosting country:

Learn the local language: absolutely the most important factor. No matter what language it is, learn what your neighbors, your colleagues, your doctors and your surrounding speak.

– Study the history of a country: not, you don’t have to take a degree on historical matters, just a little knowledge. It helps to understand what you see and hear everyday

Eat local and at the same time. Ok, not all and not always, and yes you can personalized recipes. But try to immerge as much as possible in the food culture and habits. Which could mean to eat early or very late. (I personally find a little stupid keep other eating hours that the standard of the country you live in, because you won’t find any restaurant serving food when you’re used to eat then).

Dress up like the others. Just be clear, I come from Milano (the capital of fashion) and I’ve always cared a lot about what I was wearing. But since I move I realized that all those so pretty things would not fit my life now. Shoes with high hills or very delicate bags doesn’t meet the need of walking in the woods or climbing the hill to pick up my kids in Kindergarten. Plus I’d be way overdressed in the office. At frist I was skeptical, now I feel much better, more comfortable and I found there are also nice clothing more “easy style”. Of course I kept all the nice Outfits for my Italian vacations.

NEVER criticize. Most of the things you find awkward are just habits, often without a logical explanation. Does it make sense to be critic about it? To me absolutely not. Thus It makes sense to wonder why and ask. But don’t expect a logical answer, in many cases there is any. Example: in Italy it is usual that salad comes after the hot meal (which is normally pasta), in the rest of the world the vegetables are eaten before. I personally like this way and I had no problem adapting to it but my husband absolutely can not eat vegetable before his pasta! Does he deserve a critic for it? No way!
As long as he does not compain about it…

Starting a new life in a different country is a roller coaster of emotions. Everything is amplified, from the lowest sadness to the highest joy.

Happiness assumes a new meaning and important values change. No more importance is given to material things but relations become the Lymph of everyday life. It is somehow like coming back to our childhood but at the same time become wiser.

 

Giving Trust is the most underestimated Skill in workplace — 31. October 2015

Giving Trust is the most underestimated Skill in workplace

Trust is the first sign of courage

Today I’d like to step a little outside the Social Media world. I feel the need to talk about something so important and yet still so underestimated in work place: trust.

Lack of trust could damage way more than saving for possible mistakes.

I love living in a place where trust is the key word. In fact I truly believe that Germany has established its culture and way of living in trusting each other. Of course if you trust someone it’s because the other person,thing or institution had never let you down. For example why do we think that “Chinese” product are not reliable? Probably because they have failed our expectations many times in the past and thus they started the de-Trustring process. Of course once the perception is created, we well know there is nothing you can do about it. Same thing for the people, people who don’t believe in “politics” (and now they’re more and more) it is because they think politicians had have never maintained what they had promised. Again, failing in satisfying expectations is the problem.

So, while I understand loosing trust when the other person/thing failed in reaching your requirements, what does it make people not giving trust in advanced? If don’t know you, but I have experiences in many different work environments simple lack of trust in advanced with no apparent reasons. And let me tell you, such behavior is causing actually more problems than the ones it should prevent. How does a person feel if has not been trusted?

  • Weak, because he/she knows he has to ask for everything and if he/she makes the wrong choices, those choices are just the prove that he is not reliable. But of course if you never chose, you never learn. And we know that unfortunately mistaking is part of the learning process.
  • Small, yes. You feel like a child that needs to ask the permit to her mother to go to the park and eat an ice-cream.
  •  Insecure, the power of decision gives you the strength to stand up for your thoughts and fight for your opinion. If you know you don’t have any decision-making power, you of course will not fight for anything, even when you are right and you could overcome someone else mistake.
  • Demotivated. You act like a robot that only executes, with no thinking. It is of course it’s boring and workaday. At the end you just give up, work only on minimum required and the biggest aspiration is to go home earlier. Until you quick or you get hospitalized for depression Syndrom.
  • Resigned – If you have been treated always like a monkey, would you then become a pro-active and leading person only when and where the company need it? I doubt it. You can not expect anyone that has not been encouraged to be all of the sudden a racehorse.

It is not a case that also Forbes wrote about it.This sentence from the article summarize perfectly the concept:

The key success factor becomes the ability to persuade someone over whom you have no power to collaborate with you in pursuit of a common Mission.

To end, not giving trust to the team will lead to unhappy, discouraged and demoralized people. Ones that you don’t want to work with. So, how should we give trust to your co-employers without risking too much on their wrong choices?

  1. Make them doing frequent small decisions. Such decisions that would not hurt so much but at the same time make the person satisfy to be able to take it. For example ask your Marketing colleguae to decide a Layout/Design.
  2. Providing support whenever he asks for it but not imposing your voice. Sometimes people only need to talk with someone to understand better what they have to do. That’s why listening is more imporant in those moments.
  3. Assuming the responsability of their mistakes. If we trust, we know they can fail. But it is our Job believing in them and encouraging them, even if they make mistakes. So they can feel free to try on things and making decisions.
Why being active in social media? — 9. October 2015

Why being active in social media?

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Nowadays everyone has a Facebook account, a Twitter account, a Linkedin Profile, a Blog, a Google+ circle and so on.

We are all about being online social and be knwon by the higest possible number of People, to be famous and recognized by others, obioussely in Internet. Photo of vacations, parties with friends, photo Album of our children, Icons buttons or emotiocons. But most of all, we are all active in Internet Groups and Forum, sharing our personal thoughts within Folks we don’t even know that do the same with us.

It is a huge consumption of our time being “wasted” to build unuseful Relations and no sense online connetions. To the opposite, there is the reality, a real life made of relations with real People with whom we often not spend enought time.
Without going in the pyscological and phylosofical meaning of this phenomenon, I would like to Analyse the effect that it brings to our professional lives.

In this senario, you might think it is obvious that People spend a large amount of time to build their online reputation also on a professional level, which is way more important than private. Instead, only a minority of People think about putting the same effort into their professional virtual lives. Especially entrepreneurs or young professional still with an carrier to build, should invest at least 80% of their time and money in online visibility, because that is simply the future.

Being iSocial is a new made-up term to express how important is it to be there, on web or Internet, and to be active and social. Interacting, creating content, posting, starting discussions, blogging, having a Website, it is all about being THERE in the net and marking your presence in web.  If you still have any doubt about it, These are the numbers of Internet today

To give you an idea, These are numbers from Facebook:

864 million daily active users on average for September 2014

703 million mobile daily active users on average for September 2014

1.35 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2014

1.12 billion mobile monthly active users as of September 30, 2014

Approximately 82.2% of our daily active users are outside the US and Canada

More important: Facebook’s latest self-reported statistics say that the average user spends 55 minutes a day on the site, which implies nearly 30 hours a month. Basically we spend more time on Facebook than in the Bathroom!

And that is only Facebook…I don’t have to explain more why is so crucial to be there nowadays. In Addition there are LinkedIn, Twitter and not less important Youtube, plus millions of alternatives and more specific online platforms.

What I struggle to understand is why many Company, professional, or free lancer aren’t yet. Or maybe they are but do not interact or feed their pages, which is even worse! I have clearly said it is mandatory to be there, but it is also mandatory to be there good, strong and powerful. Your iSocial life has to be a Support or your Job or carrer, not a disadvantage.

 

LIDL: what do you do? — 19. September 2015

LIDL: what do you do?

LIDL LIDL customer

I can’t understand LIDL recent communication campaign.
Why? Because I don’t get who the target is, or better, I don’t understand why you LIDL changed it.

What is the typical LIDL customer? It is a normal or low-income woman, more likely in her 40/50ies or older, normally with a family, with no interested in fashion or style, who wants first to save money and second find all common German food. While there, she would also buy clothing if she finds them convenient and not too bad. She would also buy baby/children clothing.

During the years LIDL has been increasing more and more their offering, introducing non-food articles. Now you can also find special offers of electronic tools, thrill machines, furniture, garden utensil, and almost every week a long variety of clothes.

Of course entering the fast fashion world was too attractive for Discount chains, and there it go. From children clothing to underwear, from shoes to belts and all possible clothing you need. Don’t get me wrong, they are not mistaking at all, sales confirmed it. Their minimum-stock vs fast sales process works best, so great job LIDL. The only thing that I don’t really understand is why then changing then your target?

When I see their latest adv campaign (both on TV, online and on paper) LIDL is very much talking to a younger audience than usual. Both visual and messages are targeted to young women, I would even say teenagers. And my question is “WHY SO”???
From what I can assume either you LIDL want enlarge the age of their customers, trying to sell clothes also to younger people or you use that image because you want older women feel younger. I believe in both cases it doesn’t work.

Here 5 Reasons why:

1. If LIDL wants to attract young women to shop there – it will of course exclude older women – as a 20 years old does not dress like a 50/60 women (both for size and style). Either one target or the other. Problem is, if I’m 20 years old would I ever go to LIDL to shop? NEVER!

2. Plus even if you LIDL makes them coming to buy those such nice Jeans by “Sophia Thomalla” from you, the young 18-20 years old girl would never buys fruits and toilet paper while she’s there, that is her mom’s job. So again, failure in up-selling.

3. Probably a 20 years old girl think: “LIDL is where my mom would buys clothing, not me! I go to H&M or even better, I shop online by Zalando!” It could be the best, most stylist, modern and in the same time cheapest skirt ever, if the mothers has it no way the daughter will wear it. It is a perception game and there is nothing we can do to Change about it.

4. There is a size problem also. A 40/50 woman normally does not have the same size as a younger skinner girl, so how do you manage that? You make smaller and more shaped clothes only? Or you make them in ALL sizes? Again no possible.

5. The messaging of “Simply being yourself” (Bleib schön du selbst) is also to me not effective. That kind of target does not want to be “yourself”, they actually want to imitate the testimonial “Sophia Thomalla” and therefore dress like her!

If I am correct or not, no one knows. And surely LIDL is too strong and powerful to have a negative impact from one single campaign. But it would be interesting to understand why they decided to approach that target and what is the strategy behind it.

I am always very interested in understsanding retail strategies and communications plans, that’s why I observe and write here my thoughts. No controversy, no criticisms, only my willing to learn.

never stop wonderif you want to learnnever