Commerce in Character

Scenario - you're faced with a choice of two products. 

They could be goods, like tins of beans or crime novels, or services, like communications training and support. 

They're roughly equal in terms of what they're offering, quality and content wise, and price too. 

So, which do you choose? 

If that was me - and based on the majority of experiences I hear - you go for the one you like the look or sound of most.

In other words, the character of the product.

Which is why image, and the way we present ourselves, can be so important. 

Two examples from this week in the life of Hall - 

Teaching social media at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. 

I had a most enjoyable day, with some lovely people, and all was going jolly well, until, being me...

I made a mistake with the IT equipment.

We were only a third of the way through the course, and the presentation went whizzing right to the end, and then back again. Not once, but twice.

All in front of the group. 

Which wasn't exactly ideal when you're trying to be a cool, in command, authoritative professional. 

So I resorted to my usual get out of jail card in times of trouble. I deployed humour (or my version of it, anyway.)

That concludes today's session, I said, so very hilariously. I hope you enjoyed my new and efficient technique of high speed learning.  

Everyone laughed. Well, perhaps a few people did. Or one or two. Maybe. 

Anyhow, it defused the embarrassment and dealt with the situation, plus it gave us a chuckle. 

And as you'll know from having been on courses, a little laughter can go a very long way in making the day bearable. 

In the other example, I was talking about communications skills to another lovely group, this time senior civil servants from India.

They told me they had just been on a trip to the University of Oxford, and I cracked the incredibly hilarious gag that I was delighted they had a chance to visit the second best university in the world. 

They knew all about the friendly rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge, and duly fell about laughing. 

(Or, at least, managed some polite smiles.)

But in both cases the humour worked, because it's part of me, my brand, my image, and genuinely me, the way I like to do things and how I see the world. 

And when you're in a crowded market, like communications, every little advantage that gives you an edge on the rest is important. 

The civil servants even enjoyed the session to the extent that I was asked for some photos, and this I would call the classic thorn between the roses shot - 

Whenever I get repeat bookings for teaching, I try to find out why I'm being asked back. 

And the answer is nearly always the same - 

What I do is good quality and effective, and that's always going to be key.

No quality, no content, and you've got no chance, whatever it is you do. 

But if you've got a decent product, and an appealing character to go with it, you're in with a good chance of success.