On Confessions of an Advertising Man

I recently finished reading Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found to be particularly insightful:

Today, the world of advertising faces four problems of crisis dimensions. The first problem is that manufacturers of package-goods products, which have always been the mainstay of advertising, are spending twice as much on price-off deals as on advertising…The second problem is that advertising agencies, notably in Britain, France, and the United States, are now infested with people who regard advertising as an avant-garde art form…The third problem is the emergence of megalomaniacs whose mind-set is more financial than creative. They are building empires by buying up other agencies, to the consternation of their clients.  The fourth problem is that advertising agencies still waste their clients’ money repeating the same mistakes.

(1) Creating successful advertising is a craft, part inspiration but mostly know-how and hard work. If you have a modicum of mostly know–how and hard work. If you have a modicum of talent, and know which techniques work at the cash register, you will go a long way. (2) The temptation to entertain instead of selling is contagious. (3) The difference between one advertisement and another. when measured in terms of sales, can be as much as nineteen to one. (4) It pays to study the product before writing your advertisements. (5) The key to success is to promise the consumer a benefit – like better flavor, whiter wash, more miles per gallon, a better complexion. (6) The function of most advertising is not to persuade people to try your product, but to persuade them to use it more often than other brands in their repertoire. (Thank you, Andrew Ehrenberg.) (7) What works in one country almost always works in other countries.

(1) I admire people who work hard, who bite the bullet. I dislike passengers who don’t pull their weight in the boat…(2) I admire people with first-class brains, because you cannot run a great advertising agency without brainy people. But brains are not enough unless they are combined with intellectual honesty…(4) I admire people who work with gusto. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, I beg you to find another job…(6) I admire self-confident professionals, the craftsmen who do their jobs with superlative excellence. They always seem to respect the expertise of their colleagues. They don’t poach. (7) I admire people who hire subordinates who are good enough to succeed them. I pity people who are so insecure that they feel compelled to hire inferiors as their subordinates.

(1) I try to be fair and to be firm, to make unpopular decisions without cowardice, to create an atmosphere of stability, and to listen more than I talk. (2) I try to sustain the momentum of the agency – its ferment, its vitality, its forward thrust. (7) I try to recruit people of the highest quality at all levels, to build the hottest staff in the agency business. (8) I try to get the best out of every man and woman in the agency.

The agencies which are most successful in new business are those whose spokesmen show the most sensitive insight into the psychological make-up of the prospective client. Rigidity and salesmanship do not combine.

Some agencies pander to the craze for doing everything in committee. They boast about “teamwork” and decry the role of the individual. But no team can write an advertisement, and I doubt whether there is a single agency of any consequence which is not the lengthened shadow of one man.

(1) What You Say Is More Important Than How You Say It. (2) Unless Your Campaign Is Built Around a Great Idea, it Will Flop. (3) Give the Facts. (4) You Cannot Bore People into Buying. (5) Be Well-Mannered, But Don’t Clown. (6) Make Your Advertising Contemporary. (7) Committees Can Criticize Advertisements, But They Cannot Write Them. (8) If You Are Lucky Enough To Write a Good Advertisement, Repeat It Until It Stops Pulling. (9) Never Write an Advertisement Which You Wouldn’t Want Your Own Family To Read. (10) The Image and the Brand. (11) Don’t Be a Copy-Cat.

On a concluding note, “a collection of Ogilvy-isms”:

We prefer the discipline of knowledge to the anarchy of ignorance. Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating. In the best establishments, promises are always kept. whatever it may cost in agony and overtime. Change is our lifeblood. It is important to admit your mistakes and to do so before you are charged with them.

A recommended concise and perceptive read in the areas of advertising, and influence.


On Impro

Earlier this year, famed author Dan Pink posted an article titled: Rebirth of a Salesman–Six Books on the Art and Science of Sales. One of the books on that list that I had not read yet and that caught my attention was: Impro – Improvisation And The Theatre – by Keith Johnstone. In his commentary, Dan wrote:

A work of drama theory? Yes – and that’s why you should read it. Smart sellers, like good improv actors, know how to hear offers. 

So I decided to order this book, read it, and share with you some of my key learnings. Keith starts by explaining the tenets of his teaching philosophy. First, on the importance of focusing on improving the overall team performance:

Normal schooling is intensely competitive, and the students are supposed to try and outdo each other. If I explain to a group that they’re to work for the other members, that each individual is to be interested in the progress of the other members, they’re amazed, yet obviously if a group supports its own members strongly, it’ll be a better group to work in.

Second, on the responsibilities of the teacher and his/her role in removing the fear of failure:

The first thing I do when I meet a group of new students is (probably) to sit on the floor. I play low status, and I’ll explain that if the students fail they’re to blame me. Then they laugh, and relax, and I explain that really it’s obvious that they should blame me, since I’m supposed to be the expert; and if I give them the wrong material. they’ll fail; and if I give them the right material, then they’ll succeed. I play low status physically but my actual status is going up, since only a very confident and experienced person would put the blame for failure on himself. At this point they almost certainly start sliding off their chairs, because they don’t want to be higher than me. I have already changed the group profoundly, because failure is suddenly not so frightening any more. They’ll want to test me, of course; but I really will apologise to them when they fail, and ask them to be patient with me, and explain that I’m not perfect. My methods are very effective, and other things being equal, most students will succeed, but they won’t try to win any more. The normal teacher-student relationship is dissolved.

Third, on the importance of maintaining eye contact with all the students:

When I was teaching young children, I trained myself to share my eye contacts out among the group. I find this crucial in establishing a ‘fair’ relationship with them. I’ve seen many teachers who concentrate their eye contacts on only a few students, and this does affect the feeling in a group. Certain students are disciples, but others feel separated, or experience themselves as less interesting, or as ‘failures’.

And last but not least, on the importance of providing constructive positive feedback:

I’ve also trained myself to make positive comments, and to be as direct as possible. I say ‘Good’ instead of’That’s enough’. I’ve actually heard teachers say ‘Well, let’s see who fails at this one’, when introducing an exercise. Some teachers get reassurance when their students fail. We must have all encountered the teacher who gives a self-satisfied smile when a student makes a mistake. Such an attitude is not conducive to a good, warm feeling in the group.

Following the introductory section, Keith, begins addressing the four areas of improvisation: status, spontaneity, narrative skills, and masks and trance. STATUS On the role of the teacher in establishing safety and enabling his/her students to stretch beyond their comfort zone – in this case the ‘preferred status’:

If you wish to teach status interactions, it’s necessary to understand that however willing the student is consciously, there may be very strong subconscious resistances. Making the student safe, and getting him to have confidence in you, are essential. You then have to work together with the student, as if you were both trying to alter the behaviour of some third person. It’s also important that the student who succeeds at playing a status he feels to be alien should be instantly rewarded, praised and admired. It’s no use just giving the exercises and expecting them to work. You have to understand where the resistance is, and devise ways of getting it to crumble. Many teachers don’t recognise that there’s a problem because they only exploit the ‘preferred’ status. In a bad drama school it’s possible to play your ‘preferred’ status all the time, since they cast you to type, exploiting what you can do, instead of widening your range.

On status, as the central element of any exchange:

Although this short essay is no more than an introduction, by now it will be clear to you that status transactions aren’t only of interest to the improviser. Once you understand that every sound and posture implies a status, then you perceive the world quite differently, and the change is probably permanent. In my view, really accomplished actors, directors, and playwrights are people with an intuitive understanding of the status transactions that govern human relationships. This ability to perceive the underlying motives of casual behaviour can also be taught.

SPONTANEITY Keith believes that we all start out with more spontaneity as children, but our education system plays a big role in reversing that:

1) Most children can operate in a creative way until they’re eleven or twelve, when suddenly they lose their spontaneity and produce imitations of’adult art’…Many teachers think of children as immature adults. It might lead to better and more ‘respectful’ teaching, if we thought of adults as atrophied children. Many ‘well adjusted’ adults are bitter, uncreative frightened, unimaginative, and rather hostile people. Instead of assuming they were born that way, or that that’s what being an adult entails, we might consider them as people damaged by their education and upbringing. 2) Imagination is as effortless as perception, unless we think it might be ‘wrong’, which is what our education encourages us to believe. Then we experience ourselves as ‘imagining’, as ‘thinking up an idea’, but what we’re really doing is faking up the sort of imagination we think we ought to have. 3) At school any spontaneous act was likely to get me into trouble. I learned never to act on impulse, and that whatever came into my mind first should be rejected in favour of better ideas. I learned that my imagination wasn’t ‘good’ enough. I learned that the first idea was unsatisfactory because it was (1) psychotic; (2) obscene; (3) unoriginal.The truth is that the best ideas are often psychotic, obscene and unoriginal. My best known play—a one-actor called Moby Dick—is about a servant who keeps his master’s one remaining sperm in a goldfish bowl. It escapes, grows to monstrous size, and has to be hunted down on the high seas. This is certainly a rather obscene idea to many people, and if I hadn’t thrown away everything that my teachers taught me, I could never have written it. These teachers, who were so sure of the rules, didn’t produce anything themselves at all. I was one of a number of playwrights who emerged in the late 1950s, and it was remarkable that only one of us had been to a university—that was John Arden—and he’d studied architecture. 4) Students need a ‘guru’ who ‘gives permission’ to allow forbidden thoughts into their consciousness. A ‘guru’ doesn’t necessarily teach at all. Some remain speechless for years, others communicate very cryptically. All reassure by example. They are people who have been into the forbidden areas and who have survived unscathed. I react playfully with my students, while showing them that there are just as many dead nuns or chocolate scorpions inside my head as there are in anybody’s, yet I interact very smoothly and sanely. It’s no good telling the student that he isn’t to be held responsible for the content of his imagination, he needs a teacher who is living proof that the monsters are not real, and that the imagination will not destroy you. Otherwise the student will have to go on pretending to be dull. 5) Reading about spontaneity won’t make you more spontaneous, but it may at least stop you heading off in the opposite direction; and if you play the exercises with your friends in a good spirit, then soon all your thinking will be transformed. Rousseau began an essay on education by saying that if we did the opposite of what our own teachers did we’d be on the right track, and this still holds good. The Stages I try to take students through involve the realisation (i) that we struggle against our imaginations, especially when we try to be imaginative; (2) that we are not responsible for the content of our imaginations; and (3) that we are not, as we are taught to think, our ‘personalities’, but that the imagination is our true self.

NARRATIVE SKILLS One technique for generating stories, that resonated with me, is to think of them as events that interrupted an established routine:

An improviser can study status transactions, and advancing, and ‘reincorporating’, and can learn to free-associate, and to generate narrative spontaneously, and yet still find it difficult to compose stories. This is really for aesthetic reasons, or conceptual reasons. He shouldn’t really think of making up stories, but of interrupting routines. If I say ‘Make up a story’, then most people are paralysed. If I say ‘describe a routine and then interrupt it’, people see no problem.

In concluding the narrative skills section, Keith offers advice on the necessity to distract the student’s initial focus away from the content so as to release their imagination:

You have to trick students into believing that content isn’t important and that it looks after itself, or they never get anywhere. It’s the same kind of trick you use when you tell them that they are not their imaginations, that their imaginations have nothing to do with them and that they’re in no way responsible for what their ‘mind’ gives them. In the end they learn how to abandon control while at the same time they exercise control. They begin to understand that everything is just a shell. You have to misdirect people to absolve them of responsibility. Then, much later, they become strong enough to resume the responsibility themselves. By that time they have a more truthful concept of what they are.

MASKS AND TRANCE On masks and trance, Keith summarizes the role these two tools can play not only in acting but also as therapy but cautions on the importance of having a teacher who’s role is to keep the student safe during his regression:

If you were to use Mask work literally as ‘therapy’, and to try and psychoanalyse the content of scenes, then I’ve no doubt you could produce some amazing conflicts, and really screw everyone up. Mask work, or any spontaneous acting, can be therapeutic because of the intense abreactions involved; but the teacher’s job is to keep the student safe, and to protect him so that he can regress. This is the opposite of the Freudian view that people regress in search of greater security. In acting class, students only regress when they feel protected by a high-status teacher. When the students begin Mask work, and ‘characters’ inhabit them for the first time, it’s normal for everything to be extremely grotesque…. But when you give the student permission to explore this material he very soon uncovers layers of unsuspected gentleness and tenderness. It is no longer sexual feelings and violence that are deeply repressed in this culture now, whatever it may have been like in fin-de-siecle Vienna. We repress our benevolence and tenderness.

This book, while primarily written as a practical guide of techniques for improvisation, has numerous lessons that extend into other areas such as psychology and influence.

Zig Ziglar’s Secrets Of Closing The Sale

I recently finished reading Zig Ziglar’s Secrets Of Closing The Sale – For Anyone Who Must Get Others To Say Yes! by Zig Ziglar.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “If, in your heart, you really feel the sales process is something you do t0 the prospect, then you are a manipulator. The dictionary defines manipulate: “To control the action of, by management; also, to manage artfully or fraudulently. Manipulation: Skillful or dexterous management, sometimes for purpose of fraud, state of being manipulated.” I’ll be the first to admit that manipulators make sales, but in my thirty-six years in the profession I have never known even one manipulator who was successful in the profession. If, in your heart, you feel the sales process is something you do for the prospect, then this book could represent a significant addition to your sales library. Your benefits will be considerable because you are truly interested in benefiting others.”

2- “You’ve got to establish that trust and respect with your prospects if you expect to be a sales professional. This should be obvious. but for fear it’s not, I’ll spell it out. Again, you cannot be one kind of person and another kind of salesperson.  You must be consistent in all areas of life if you are going to achieve maximum results in building your sales career. That’s one of the major reasons we deal with the entire person rather than just the salesperson throughout this book. This is one of the “not-so-little” things that make the buying difference in the prospect’s mind.”

3- “People forget price but they’ll never forget poor quality or a poor choice. They generally give the salesperson a generous portion of the blame. Some of that goes with the territory, but too much blame means you won’t have the territory for long.”

4- “High performers in the world of selling establish trust with customers by one-on-one, eye-to-eye communication skills. They maintain n trust by personally assuming responsibility for completing the sale, which means servicing the account on an ongoing basis and utilizing their company support people in the most effective manner. High performers demonstrated great integrity with their follow-through and belief that the sale is not complete until the product is installed and functioning satisfactorily.”

5- “The critical step: in the world of selling is this step of honesty which is your total conviction, your complete belief that the product or service you sell is the best buy for the prospect.”

6- “Sympathy means you feel like another person feels. Empathy means you understand how the other person feels, though you do not feel the same way…To be truly professional you must be able to comfortably move from the seller’s side of the table to the buyer’s side. If you know how your prospect thinks and feels, you’re definitely going to sell more of what you’re selling because you will communicate more effectively.”

7- “One myth—that a salesperson should not get involved with customer concerns other than the purpose of the sales call—was exploded, as was the concept that price isn’t important and that you should “promise them anything” to close a sale. Customers want and expect heir salespeople to be able to act as trustworthy resources who respond directly and provide them expertise, backed by effective recommendations. One significant characteristic of the high producer is his willingness to explain product drawbacks.”

8- ” H in the heart of your sales career is honesty, E is ego and empathy, A is your attitude toward you your prospects and profession, R is for physical, mental, and spiritual reserve, T is for tough—and the toughest thing is love”

9- “When the inner man speaks, the I not speak from the heart unless he truly believes in his product and/or service. This means that he must have paid the price by obtaining profound knowledge of his product or service. One must also believe this product/service is unquestionably what the customer/patient needs.”

10- “Almost without exception, every product or service can be sold by painting word pictures, especially if the pictures are in the present tense. As I’ve previously stated, we think in pictures and we buy pictures if we are painted into the picture as satisfied customers.”

11- “It’s better to have the no today than tomorrow for the simple reason it clears your mind. You can now pursue new prospects and not count on that one for a future sale. Once you do, you fall into the trap of not prospecting for new prospects and the sale you miss today will cost you sales tomorrow.”

12- “There is one specific point, however, when I throw in the towel and withdraw my efforts to close. That point is when the prospect makes it clear—after seeing the benefits—that he has no interest and cannot or will not buy. Until that point, however, I am going to make an honest effort to close the sale.”

13- “I deal with and use questions in every segment of Secrets of Closing the Sale. There is no doubt in my mind that your career as a salesperson will move forward faster as a direct result of learning how to ask questions and how to use the proper voice inflection than from any other skills you might develop.”

14- “To build a sales career, you need to acquire the knowledge made available through sales trainers, books, recordings, and seminars. With that knowledge you should weave in a poetic philosophy of life which says that “you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” To the knowledge and poetic philosophy, add the common sense of the old farmer which says, “Friend, I don’t care what you do, know you’ve got to work and work hard at seeing new prospects and servicing old customers.” You have a moral obligation to work so hard at building your sales career and becoming truly professional that as my friend John Nevin from Australia says, “If anyone ever sees you coming and says, ‘Here comes a salesman,’ you won’t let him down.'”


Omar Halabieh

Zig Ziglar’s Secrets Of Closing The Sale

On Guerrilla Marketing

I recently finished reading Guerrilla Marketing – Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business – by Jay Conrad Levinson.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Marketing is every hit of contact your company has with anyone in the outside world. Every bit of contact. That means a lot of marketing opportunities. It does not mean investing a lot of money.”

2- “Marketing is the art of getting people to change their minds or to maintain their mindsets if they re already inclined to do business with you. People must either switch brands or purchase a type of product or service that has never existed before.”

3- “Guerrilla marketers do not rely on the brute force of an outsized marketing budget. Instead, they rely on the brute force of a vivid imagination. Today, they are different from traditional marketers in twenty ways. I used to compare guerrilla marketing with textbook marketing, but now that this book is a textbook in so many universities, I must compare it with traditional marketing.”

4- “The Sixteen Monumental Secrets of Guerrilla Marketing: 1. You must have commitment to your marketing program. 2. Think of that program as an investment. 3. See to it that your program is consistent. 4. Make your prospects confident in your firm. 5. You must be patient in order to keep a commitment. 6. You must see that marketing is an assortment of weapons. 7. You must know that profits come subsequent to the sale. 8. You must aim to run your firm in a way that makes it convenient for your customers. 9. Put an element oi amazement in your marketing. 10. Use measurement to judge the effectiveness of your weapons. 10. Use measurement to judge the effectiveness of your weapons. 11. Prove your involvement with customers and prospects by your regular follow-up with them. 12. Learn to become dependent on other businesses and they on you. 13. You must be skilled with the armament of guerrillas, which means technology. 14. Use marketing to gain consent from prospects, and then broaden that consent so that it leads to the sale 15. Sell the content of your offering rather than the style; sell the steak and the sizzle, because people are too sophisticated to merely buy that sizzle. 16. After you have a full-fledged marketing program, work to augment it rather than rest on your laurels.”

5- “Creativity comes from knowledge. You must have knowledge of your own product or service, your competition, your target audience, your marketing area, the economy, current events, and the trends of the time. With this knowledge, you’ll have what it takes to develop a creative marketing program, and you’ll produce creative marketing materials.”

6- “Market primarily to customers, not to prospects. It costs one-sixth as much to sell something to a customer than to a prospect. Some experts now peg that fraction as one-tenth. Direct your marketing funds toward follow-up, surpassing customer expectations, gaining repeat business, earning referral business, and enlarging the size of your transactions. Your growth will pay off in profits even more impressive than the money you’ll save by the inward, rather than outward, thrust in your marketing.”

7- “Marketing is part science and part art — and the art part is very subjective. The artistic end of marketing is not limited to words and pictures; it involves timing and media selection and ad size.”

8- “Unless you really keep track of all your media responses, you are not a guerrilla. If you run your ads and keep selecting media on blind faith, you are closer to a lemming. You’ve got to make your marketing as scientific as possible. This is one of those rare instances in which you can measure the effectiveness of your media scientifically. Avail yourself of it.”

9- “As you know, guerrillas give things away. Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. The coin is called business. Guerrillas have learned. though they may have always suspected it in their bones, that the more they give, the more they receive. They are extremely imaginative about what they can give, shifting their generosity into high gear and seeing the world through the eyes of their customers. That’s where to start when determining what to give away.”

10- “You can delegate the marketing tasks, delegate the marketing details, and delegate the marketing assignments. But you can’t delegate the passion or the vision. Those have to come from you.”

11- “No matter what you think you do for a living, you’re really in four businesses at once. The first is the business you think you’re in — the one mentioned on your business card. The second is the marketing business. Whatever you offer must be marketed…The third business you’re in is the service business. Customers must be served and helped from the moment you meet them…The fourth business you’re in is the people business. Your products are made by people, marketed by people, sold by people, and offered to people. There’s a close correlation between your interest in people and your ability to convince and motivate them.”

12- “Whatever you think or thought service was, let me give you a new definition — a definition for guerrillas, a definition for a time when small businesses d all the help they can get and every possible competitive advantage. Service is anything the customer wants it to be. Service is not what it says in your service manual, not what you’ve rendered in the past, and not what customers dread it will be. Instead, it’s what they pray it will be. If you can  ive up to this definition of service, you’ll be practicing one of the most powerful marketing tactics in history — and also one of the very newest.”


Omar Halabieh

Guerrilla Marketing

On Permission Marketing

I recently finished reading Permission Marketing – Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “As clutter has increased, advertisers have responded by increasing clutter. And as with pollution, because no one owns the problem, no one is working very hard to solve it.”

2- “In addition to clutter, there’s another problem facing marketers. Consumers don’t need to care as much as they used to. The quality of products has increased dramatically It’s increased so much, in fact, that it doesn’t really matter which car you buy, which coffee maker you buy, or which shirt you buy They’re all a great value, and they’re all going to last a good long while.”

3- “To summarize the problem that faces the Interruption Marketers: 1. Human beings have a finite amount of attention. 2. Human beings have a finite amount of money. The more products offered, the less money there is to go around. 4. In order to capture more attention and more money. Interruption Marketers must increase spending. 5. But this increase in marketing exposure costs b\ money. 6. But, as you’ve seen, spending more and more money in order to get bigger returns leads to ever more clutter. 7. Catch-22: The more they spend, the less it works. The less it works, the more they spend.”

4- “Five Steps to Dating Your Customer: 1. Offer the prospect an incentive to volunteer 2. Using the attention offered by the prospect, offer a curriculum over time, teaching the consumer about your product or service. 3. Reinforce the incentive to guarantee that the prospect maintains the permission. 4. Offer additional incentives to get even more permission from the consumer. 5. Over time, leverage the permission to change consumer behavior toward profits.”

5- “Permission Marketing Is Anticipated, Personal, Relevant: Anticipated—people look forward to hearing from you. Personal—the messages are directly related to the individual. Relevant—the marketing is about something the prospect is interested in.”

6- “Permission Marketing is the tool that unlocks the power of the Internet. The leverage it bring to this new medium, combined with the pervasive clutter that infects the Internet and virtually every other medium, makes Permission Marketing the most powerful trend in marketing for the next decade.”

7- “By focusing media on getting permission instead of making the ultimate sale, marketers are able to get far more out of their expenditures. The response rate to a free sample or c affinity program or a birthday club might be five or ten times the response rate of an ad asking for a sale.”

8- “There are five levels of permission. The highest level of permission is called the “intravenous” level. The fifth and lowest is called the “situation” level. Here are the five levels in order of importance. 1. Intravenous (and “purchase-on-approval” model) 2. Points (liability model and chance model) 3. Personal relationships 4. Brand trust 5. Situation. There’s a sixth level, but it’s so low I won’t even refer to it as a level at all. It’s called spam (unsolicited advertising), and it’s covered last.”

9- “Once you have earned permission, you must keep it land attempt to expand it. These four rules go a long way to help marketers understand permission: 1. Permission is nontransferable. 2. Permission is selfish. 3. Permission is a process, not a moment. 4. Permission can be canceled at any time.”

10- “Miss the opportunity to build a permission relationship directly with the consumer, and your company is likely to become a commodity supplier. If you acknowledge the coming power of the permission holder yet choose to avoid the battle to become one, you can still win. If you start now, you can optimize your company for the role of supplying the permission holder, making yourself more attractive to these gatekeepers and locking in the long-term relationships that can give you insulation moving forward. On the other hand, if you go for the opportunity to deal direct, you’ll face the wrath of your existing intermediaries. It’ll be expensive to build and maintain a permission base, and risky too. But if you succeed, you will have built an asset that can offset the demands of the gatekeepers. You’ll be able to maintain fair pricing and generate better profits.”


Omar Halabieh

Permission Marketing

On Free

I recently finished reading Free – How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit By Giving Something For Nothing – by Chris Anderson.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “The “free” part of freemium is simple, but the “premium” part is tricky. Every company and industry is different, and each business must figure out what its customers will pay for even as it uses Free to attract them in the first place. Although the book includes hundreds of examples of how successful firms found premiums to go with their frees, there are countless others. There is no silver bullet, no universal freemium model that can offer salvation to all. Making Free work is hard, which is why it’s sometimes so scary.”

2- “Those who understand the new Free will command tomorrow’s markets and disrupt today’s—indeed, they’re already doing it. This book is about them and what they’re teaching us. It is about the past and future of a radical price.”

3- “Today the most interesting business models are in finding ways to make money around Free. Sooner or later every company is going to have to figure out how to use Free or compete with Free, one way or another. This book is about how to do that.”

4- “Cross-subsidies can work in several different ways: Paid products subsidizing free products…Paying later subsidizing free now…Paying people subsidizing free people.”

5- “Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! we forget the downside. FREE! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered a as immensely more valuable than it really is. Why? I think it’s because humans are intrinsically afraid of loss. The real allure of FREE! is tied to this fear. There’s no visible possibility of loss when we choose a FREE! item (it’s free). But suppose we choose the item that’s not free. Uh-oh, now there’s a risk of having made a poor decision—^the possibility of loss. And so, given the choice, we for what is free.”

6- “The lesson from Harris’s experience is that in a digital marketplace, Free is almost always a choice. If you don’t offer it explicitly, others will typically find a way to introduce it themselves. When the marginal cost of reproduction is zero, the barriers to Free are mostly psychological fear of breaking the law, a sense of fairness, an individual’s calculation on the value of his or her time, perhaps a habit of paying or ignorance that a free version can be obtained. Sooner or later, most producers in the digital realm will find themselves competing with Free. Harris understood that and figured out how to do it better. With his survey, he looked into the mind of the of the pirate and saw a paying customer looking for a reason to come out.”

7- “Commodity information (everybody gets the same version)  /ants to be free. Customized information (you get something unique and meaningful to you) wants to be expensive.”

8- “It’s easy to see e why this is scary for the industries that are losing their pricing power. “De-monetization” is traumatic for those affected. But pull back and you can see that the value is not so much lost as redistributed in ways that aren’t always measured in dollars and cents.”

9- “In 1971, at the dawning of the Information Age, the social scientist Herbert Simon wrote: In an information-rich world, the wealth of information meat a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

10- “There is nothing new about this—people have always been creating and contributing for free. We didn’t call what they did “work” because it wasn’t paid, but every time you give someone free advice or volunteer for something, you’re doing something that in a different context could be somebody’s job. Now the professionals and amateurs are suddenly in the same marketplace of attention, and these parallel worlds are now in competition. And there are a lot more amateurs than professionals.”

11- “The idea that knockoffs can actually help the originals, especially ir the fashion business, isn’t new. In economics, it’s called the “piracy paradox,” a term coined by law professors Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman. The paradox stems from the basic dilemma that underpins the economics of fashion: Consumers have to like this year’s designs, but also quickly become dissatisfied with them so they’ll buy next year’s design. Unlike technology, say, apparel companies can’t argue that next year’s models are functionally functionally better—they just look different. So they need some other reason  to get consumers to lose their infatuation with this year’s model. The solution: widespread copying that turns an exclusive design into a mass-market commodity. The designer mystique is destroyed by cheap ubiquity, and discriminating consumers have to go in search of something exclusive and new.”

12- “The lesson from fiction is that we can’t really imagine plenty properly. Our brains are wired for scarcity; we are focused on the things we have enough of, from time to money. That’s what gives us our drive. If we get what we’re seeking, we tend to quickly discount it and find a new scarcity to pursue. We are motivated by what we don’t have. not what we do have.”


Omar Halabieh


On The Psychology Of Persuasion

I recently finished reading Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion – by Robert B. Cialdini.

Robert best summarizes the premise of his book: “Although there are thousands of different tactics that compliance practitioners employ to produce yes, the majority fall within six basic categories. Each of these categories is governed by a fundamental psychological principle that directs human behavior and, in so doing, gives the tactics their power. The book is organized around these six principles, one to a chapter. The principles—consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity—are each discussed in terms of their function in the society and in terms of how their enormous force can be commissioned by a compliance professional who deftly incorporates them into requests for purchases, donations, concessions, votes, assent, etc.”

Below are key excerpts from this book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “The impressive aspect of the rule for reciprocation and the sense of obligation that goes with it is its pervasiveness in human culture. It is so widespread that after intensive study, sociologists such as Alvin Gouldner can report that there is no human society that does not subscribe to the rule. And within each society it seems pervasive also; it permeates exchanges of every kind.”

2- “The reciprocation rule brings about mutual concession in two ways. The first is obvious. It pressures the recipient of an already made concession to respond in kind. The second, while not so obvious, is pivotally important. Just as in the case of favors, gifts. or aid, the obligation to reciprocate a concession encourages the creation of socially desirable arrangements by ensuring that anyone seeking to start such an arrangement will not be exploited.”

3- “Certainly, then, good personal consistency is highly valued in our culture. And well it should be. It provides us with a reasonable and gainful orientation to the world. Most of the time we will be better off if our approach to things is well laced with consistency. Without it our lives would be difficult, erratic, and disjointed. But because it is so typically in our best interests to be consistent, we easily fall into the habit of being automatically so, even in situations where it is not the sensible way to be. When it occurs unthinkingly, consistency can be disastrous.”

4- “Once an active commitment is made, then, self-image is squeezed from both sides by consistency pressures. From the inside, there is a pressure to bring self-image into line with action. From the outside, there is a sneakier pressure—a tendency to adjust this image according to the way others perceive us.”

5- “The tendency to see an action as more appropriate when others are doing it normally works quite well. As a rule, we will make fewer mistakes by acting in accord with social evidence than contrary to it. Usually, when a lot of people are doing something, it is the right tiling to do. This feature of the principle of social proof is simultaneously its major strength and its major weakness. Like the other weapons of influence, it provides a convenient shortcut for determining how to behave but, at the same time, makes one who use the shortcut vulnerable to the attacks of profiteers who lie in wait along its path.”

6- “These results suggest an important qualification of the principle of social proof. We will use the actions of others to decide on proper behavior for ourselves, especially when we view those others as similar to ourselves.”

7- “Few people would be surprised to learn that, as a rule, we most prefer to say yes to the requests of someone we know and like. What might be startling to note, however, is that this simple rule is used in hundreds of ways by total strangers to get us to comply with their requests.”

8- “Compliance professionals are forever attempting to establish that we and they are working for the same goals, that we must “pull together” for mutual benefit, that they are, in essence, our teammates.”

9- “This paradox is, of course, the same one that attends all I major weapons of influence. In this instance, once we realize that obedience to authority is mostly rewarding, it is easy to allow ourselves the convenience of automatic obedience. The simultaneous blessing and bane of such blind obedience is its mechanical character. We don’t have to think; therefore, we don’t. Although such mindless obedience leads us to appropriate action in the great majority of cases, there will be conspicuous exceptions—because we are reacting rather than thinking.”

10- “The evidence, then, is clear. Compliance practitioners’ reliance on scarcity as a weapon of influence is frequent, wide-ranging, systematic, and diverse…The first is familiar. Like the other weapons of influence, the scarcity principle trades on our weakness for shortcuts. The weakness is, as before, an enlightened one. In this case, because we know that the things that are difficult to possess are typically better than those that are easy to possess, we can often use an item’s availability to help us quickly and correctly decide on its quality. Thus, one reason for the potency of the scarcity principle is that, by following it, we are usually and efficiently right.In addition, there is a unique, secondary source of power within the scarcity principle: As opportunities become less available, we lose freedoms; and we hate to lose the freedoms we already have.”

11- “Very often in making a decision about someone or something, we don’t use all the relevant available information; we use, instead, only a single, highly representative piece of the total. And an isolated piece of information, even though it normally counsels us correctly, can lead us to clearly stupid mistakes—mistakes that, when exploited by clever others, leave us looking silly or worse.”

12- “We are likely to use these lone cues when we don’t have the inclination, time, energy, or cognitive resources to undertake a complete analysis of the situation. Where we are rushed, stressed. uncertain, indifferent, distracted, or fatigued, we tend to focus on less of the information available to us. When making decisions under these circumstances, we often revert to the rather primitive but necessary single-piece-of-good-evidence approach. All this leads to a jarring insight: With the sophisticated mental apparatus we have used to build world eminence as a species, we have created an environment so complex, fast-paced, and information-laden that we must increasingly deal with it in the fashion of the animals we g ago transcended.”


Omar Halabieh

The Psychology of Persuasion

On Discovering The Soul Of Service

I recently finished reading Discovering The Soul Of Service – The Nine Drivers of Sustainable Business Success – by Leonard L. Berry.

Leonard summarizes the main premise of this book as: “My purpose in this book is to identify, describe, and illustrate the underlying drivers of sustainable success in service businesses. Creating a successful service operation is unquestionably a difficult task. However, sustaining success can be even more difficult. Services are performances, and the challenge of sustaining the performers’ energy, commitment, skills, and knowledge day after day, week after week. month after month, year after year—especially as the organization grows and becomes more complex—is daunting. The greater the involvement of people in creating value for customers, the greater the challenge. This is a book on the lessons 14 outstanding service companies teach about sustainable success. And the lessons they teach are clear indeed. Although the sample companies differ on the outside – the nature, size, and structure of their businesses—to a remarkable degree they are the same on the inside, sharing the drivers of their ongoing success.”

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Three specific challenges in sustaining success are accentuated in enterprises that create value for customers primarily through services. The more labor-intensive the services, the greater the challenges of: operating effectively while growing rapidly, operating effectively when competing on price, retaining the initial entrepreneurial spirit of the younger, smaller company.”

2- “A set of core values permeates the high-performance service companies studied for this book. These values are remarkably consistent among the companies. The values of excellence, innovation, joy, teamwork, respect, integrity, and social profit underlie the ongoing success of the sample firms. Unchanging, these core ideals, principles. and philosophies define the very soul of these dynamic companies.”

3- “Values-driven leaders continually convey by their words and actions the meaning of success. They not only make palpable the dream (where we are going, why we are going there), they define the indicators of progress (how we know we are getting there). A key factor in sustaining success is combining a compelling dream that inspires commitment with a success definition that is reinforcing rather than contradicting.”

4- “A smaller group of companies has been able to sustain high levels of service performance and continue to improve. What they hold in common is a strong set of values that tap into employees’ own core values, and a strong set of leaders who teach model, and cultivate the values. Values-driven leadership sustains the high discretionary efforts of human beings to individually and collaboratively achieve and gives root to the eight other success drivers § discussed in the remainder of this book.”

5- “Brilliant strategy is insufficient to drive sustained success. The total product that customers experience from a company is its strategy executed. A poorly executed strategy openly invites competitors to imitate the strategy, execute better, and take away the business. Excellent service companies not only have focused strategies, but they also focus on execution. They continually raise their standards of service delivery and constantly strive for perceived superiority over competitors.”

6- “Control of destiny is largely attitudinal. If sufficiently determined. companies need not relinquish control of their future to other parties. If they do not allow the lure of growth to impede operational effectiveness, if they stay totally focused on creating superior  value for customers, if they continually strive to get better than they are— companies can control their future.”

7- “Trust-based customer relationships honor these friendship rules. Excellent service companies may not have a personal relationship with their customers, but they are effective in personalizing service transactions and counteracting the anonymity that customers so often experience with companies. Relationship companies look for ways to please their customers, to do something extra or special for them, just as friends would do for one another. As in friendships, relationship companies do not take advantage of customers. They respect, honor, and trust them. They value the relationship and invest time, effort, and money in strengthening it.”

8- “Customers can teach companies how they want to be served. Relationship companies that capture and use this knowledge make it more difficult for customers to leave the relationship.”

9- “The initial days and weeks of employment offer a wide-open window for learning about the company’s values, traditions, history, strategy, customers. competitors, policies, and procedures. Like actors on a stage, service providers need to know the play; to perform their role well, they need to know where their part fits in the overall performance.”

10- “How can service companies that depend on energized, resourceful. committed people to deliver value to customers reap the benefits of smallness when no longer small? The answer lies in a blend of values-driven leadership, innovative structure, customer- and employee-focused information technology, and ownership attitudes.”

11- “The sample companies are strategic in their generosity. They not only are extraordinarily generous, they are effectively generous. Rather than giving for the sake of giving, they invest with a plan in mind, with 1 long-term goal. Rather than spreading their resources thinly in numerous initiatives, they concentrate their resources to have a powerful impact and make a meaningful difference. Rather than investing time, energy, and money outside the mainstream of their business, they invest in concert with the business’s overall purpose and strategy. Thus, generous acts not only benefit society, they benefit the company too, seating a stronger company and enabling more generous acts in the future.”

12- “Values-Driven Leadership: Humane organizational values sustain human excellence. Stable leadership stabilizes values. Values-driven leadership propels all other success sustainers…Strategic Focus: Constancy of purpose leads customer value creation. Strategic focus inspires innovation…Executional Excellence: A well-executed strategy diminishes opportunity for competitors. Attracting great people is the first rule of execution…Control of Destiny: Pursue success on your own terms…Trust-Based Relationships: Sustaining service success requires trust…Investment in Employee Success: Investing in the performer contributes to the performance…Acting Small: In services, acting small is big. High touch and high tech are mutually supportive…Brand Cultivation: Branding the company means performing the service…Generosity: Generosity drives service success.”



Omar Halabieh

Discovering The Soul Of Service

On I Love You More Than My Dog

I recently finished reading “I Love You More Than My Dog” Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad by Jeanne Bliss.

Below are key excerpts summarizing the main concepts advanced by the book:

1- “Your decisions reveal who you are and what you value…When you make a decision, it results in an action. And the accumulation of those decisions and actions become how people describe you and think of you. It becomes your “story.””

2- “The Five Decisions Made by Beloved Companies: DECISION 1: Beloved Companies Decide to Believe. DECISION 2: Beloved Companies Decide with Clarity of Purpose. DECISION 3: Beloved Companies Decide to Be Real. DECISION 4: Beloved Companies Decide to Be There. DECISION 5: Beloved Companies Decide to Say Sorry.”

3- “Companies have been able to suspend the cynicism. They have diminished the rules. And instead, they have decided to believe: in the good judgment of the people they hire. that trust is reciprocated between companies and their customers. in the honesty and integrity of their customers. that honoring the intelligence of employees grows their business.”

4- “Decide with clarity of purpose…Beloved companies take the time to be clear about what their unique promise is for their customers’ lives. They use this clarity hen they make decisions so they align to this purpose, to this promise. Clarity of purpose guides choices and unites the organization. It elevates people’s work from executing tasks to delivering experiences customers will want to repeat and tell others about.”

5- “Decide to be real…Beloved companies establish lasting bonds with customers—by deciding to blend their personalities with their business decisions. In the beloved companies: Leaders blend who they are as people with how they lead. Business decisions combine purpose and passion. Leaders give employees behaviors to model and permission to be ‘real.” Relationships are between people who share the same values.”

6- “Decide to be there…companies were able to reach uncommon decisions that connected them with customers because they: Imagined their customers’ lives. Were clear on their purpose for delivering a solution to their lives. Built their experience from the customers’ point of view. Executed with operational reliability.”

7- “Decide to say sorry…Aaron Lazare, author of On Apology, says, “The apology is a powerful and constructive form of conflict resolution, embedded, in modified form, in religion and the judicial system. It is a method of social hearing that as grown in importance as our way of living together on our planet undergoes radical change.” Moral of the story: a good apology trumps the legal system. As long as the apology is sincere and the effort to make amends is genuine…Your apology must: Be genuine. Restore confidence in being associated with you. Honor those harmed. Explain and work to resolve the problem. Be delivered swiftly and with humility.”

8- “Beloved companies shed their fancy packaging and break down the barriers of ” big company, little customer.” The relationship is between people who share the same values and revel in each other’s foibles, quirks, and spirit. And that’s what draws them to each other. Beloved companies decide to create a safe place where the personality and creativity of  of people come through. It makes them beloved to customers who gravitate to their particular brand of humanity.”


Omar Halabieh

I Love You More Than My Dog

On You Can Negotiate Anything

I recently read You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen.

As the title indicates, this book is about negotiation, which the author defines as: “What is negotiation? It is the use of information and power to affect behavior within a “web of tension.” If you think about this broad definition, you’ll realize that you do, in fact, negotiate all the time both on your job and in your personal life.” Herb then summarizes the three pillars of negotiation, the main premise of the book: “In every negotiation in which you’re involved—in every negotiation in which I’m involved—in fact, in every negotiation in the world (from a diplomatic geopolitical negotiation to the purchase of a home)—three crucial elements are always present: 1. Information. The other side seems to know more about you and your needs than you know about them and their needs. 2. Time. The other side doesn’t seem to be under the same kind of organizational pressure, tune constraints, and restrictive deadlines you feel you’re under. 3. Power. The other side always seems to have more power and authority than you think you have.”

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Within reason, you can get whatever you want if you’re aware of our options, if you test your assumptions, if you take shrewdly calculated risks based on solid information, and if you believe you have power. ”

2- “You have more power sources at your fingertips than you realize! 1. The power of competition…2. The power of legitimacy. Legitimacy can be questioned and challenged. Use the power of legitimacy when it’s advantageous for you to do so and challenge that power when ifs advantageous for you to do so…3. The power of risk taking You must be willing to take risks while negotiating. Risk taking involves mixing courage with common sense…4. The power of commitment…By syndicating your risk you put yourself in a position to exploit the favorable opportunity because the risk is only moderate for you…5. The power of expertise…Establish your background and credentials early in he confrontation. If you do, your statements may not even t challenged. In other words, cash in on the fact that in complicated negotiations, participants often lack specialized knowledge of certain aspects of the matter being discussed…6. The power of the knowledge of “needs” for: for: 1. The specific issues and demands, which are stated openly. 2. The real needs of the other side, which are rarely verbalized…7. The power of investment…My point is this: If you have something difficult to negotiate—an emotional issue, or a concrete item that can be stated numerically, such as price, cost, interest rate, or salary-cope with it at the end of a negotiation, after the other side has made a hefty expenditure of energy and a substantial time investment…8. The power of rewarding or punishing…If I’m aware of your perceptions and needs, and if I know you think I have power over you, I can control your behavior…9. The power of identification…You will maximize your negotiating ability if you get others to identify with you…10. The power of morality…11. The power of precedent…12. The power of persistence…Persistence is to power what carbon is to steel. By gnawing through a dike long enough even a rat can drown a nation. Most people aren’t persistent enough when negotiating…13. The power of persuasive capacity…even if you present me with overwhelming evidence that I understand, should the conclusion depress me, I will remain unconvinced. Your facts and logic may be unassailable, but their acceptance will not meet my existing needs and desires…14. The power of attitude…Try to regard all encounters and situations, including your job, as a game, as the world of illusion. Pull back a little and enjoy it all.”

3- “1. Since most concession behavior and settlements will occur at or even beyond the deadline, be patient. True strength often calls for the ability to sustain the tension without flight or fight. Learn to keep your automatic defense responses under control. Remain calm but keep alert for the favorable moment to act. As a general rule, patience pays. It may be that the thing 5 do, when you do not know what to do, is to do nothing. 2. In an adversary negotiation your best strategy is not to reveal your real deadline to the other side. Always keep in mind that since deadlines are the product of a negotiation they are more flexible than most people realize. the benefits and detriments that will ensue as you approach, or go beyond, the brink.3. The “other side,” cool and serene as they may appear. always have a deadline. Most often, the tranquility they display outwardly masks a great deal of stress and pressure. 4. Precipitous action should be taken only when ifs guaranteed to be to your advantage. Generally speaking you cannot achieve the best outcome quickly; you can achieve it only slowly and perseveringly. Very often as you approach the deadline a shift of power will occur, presenting a creative solution or even a turnaround by the other side. The people may not change, but with the passage of tune, circumstances do.”

4- “Watch the increments of concession behavior, since they send a strong message about the real limits of authority.”

5- “A negotiation is more than an exchange of material objects It is a way of acting and behaving that can develop understanding, belief, acceptance, respect, and trust. It is the manner of your approach, the tone of your voice, the attitude you convey, the methods you use, and the concern you exhibit for the other side’s feelings and needs. All these things comprise the process of negotiation. Hence, the way you go about trying to obtain your objective may in and of itself meet some of the other party’s needs.”

6- “Let me now elaborate on how the negotiating process and reconciling opponent’s needs can be used to bring about collaborative Win-Wm outcomes: I. Using the process to meet needs 2. Harmonizing or reconciling needs…In general, the reason we are at odds on an issue may stem from three areas of difference: 1. Experience 2. Information 3. Role…3. Role…Successful collaborative negotiation lies in finding out what the other side really wants and showing them a way to get it, while you get what you want.”

7- “Accomplishing mutual satisfaction using the collaborative Win-Win style involves emphasis on three important activities: 1. Building trust 2. Gaining commitment 3. Managing opposition.”

8- “How can you ensure that you do not make visceral opponents? My two rules are stated in terse negative terms: 1. Never forget the power of your attitude 2. Never judge the actions and motives of others.”

9- “Much like a great chess master, a winning negotiator needs to know every possible strategy from the opening gambit to the end-game play. Then he can enter the event with confidence that he is prepared for every possible eventuality that might occur. Nonetheless, he strives for the best outcome that can give everyone what he wants. And he knows that compromise may be acceptable, but it’s not mutually satisfying. It is a back-up, a concluding strategy that he may ultimately have to use to avoid the consequence of a deadlock.”

10- “Characteristics of Phone Negotiations: 1. More misunderstanding 2. Easier to say no 3. Much quicker 4. More competitive 5. Greater risk  6. Advantage—caller…The following are some suggestions that can be effortlessly customized to help you achieve success: 1. Be the caller/ not the callee 2. Plan and prepare 3. A graceful exit 4. Discipline yourself to listen 5. Write the memorandum of agreement.”

11- “To maximize your impact as a negotiator— no matter whom you are dealing with—you must personalize both yourself and the situation…Try not to negotiate on behalf of an institution or organization, no matter how large or small. Negotiate on behalf of yourself, representing the institution.”


Omar Halabieh

You Can Negotiate Anything