Posts Tagged ‘Communication


Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate

Real Estate advertising is mushrooming faster than buildings. But the corny ads that stand in ovation to the utter lack of creativity are not the problem.

The problem is that most, if not all the campaigns speak to a microscopic elite in a country where over the two third of the population can barely afford a loaf of bread.
The problem is that clients lack so much marketing acumen that taking them for a ride and making them to spend an arm and a leg becomes child play. Besides lacking originality, their advertising speaks to an audience that reads the newspaper in the back of their limousines while being chauffeured to destination. An audience that does not even look outside the dark tinted glass of their cars.
I got news for those Real Estate companies: Your “target audience” as your agencies taught you to call them, will never look for a 2 million Dollars apartment on a billboard on the Zalka highway! This audience does not need advertising claiming “Paradise on Earth” (in Lebanon…) to trigger their purchase behavior!
Having said that, some potential buyers might shop for a flat on outdoor media, but then, who might those prospects be? Did you ever worry about dissecting your audience, not by how much money they carry in their mattresses, but by their propensity to fill your flats?
Because, in Lebanon, the short-term fast buck over-rules the long-term brand-investment, advertisers always choose to go for the easy route; note that it is the smartest one, or the actual golden goose.
If we want to build the country on mob money, and Gulf tycoons, then be it. But for heaven’s sake, stop bragging about patriotism, and stop using nationalistic and outdated slogans. Lebanon does not, and will not get any better with your tall buildings. The way it’s going right now, it only will get uglier.
The fact is that, by playing the ostrich, we are as morally corrupt as the mafiosi who buys the 2 million Dollars flat.
My dear real estate developers, here’s an idea to make money and sleep restfully at night. We need condos, we need thousands of flats for the average Lebanese, the honest one. We need small town houses for the thousands of daily commuters who, for a change, work honestly and hard to earn their buck. Now you do the math. But before doing so, use (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to admit that, since the late eighties, economies have undergone a paradigm shift, from a margin to a volume market. Hell! Even Apple realised it! You can make more money by selling more and cheaper, rather than selling less but more expensive. You can make more money by selling to the poor!
Here’s another insight: The rich buy your flats in good times, when economy is flourishing and the cash is safe. But when hard times hit – and they do often lately – the rich are the first to hold their horses back. The average consumers on the other hand, buy an apartment because they “need” one. Their decision to buy is not investment-based, it is need-based. And here once more I implore (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to answer the 101 question: what does marketing address? Yes, yes, “needs”.
By doing so, you win a favorable reputation, you build a better brand, you will be respected and loved by the society, your product will spread to cover the nation, and you will be one of the rare businesses where the very nature of your product is intrinsically a CSR program. You will need to advertise less, thus use your marketing cash on smarter programs, or simply stash it if you wish to do so.
No, I am not a communist! And no, I am not asking you to refrain from erecting those beautiful skyscrapers that adorn our capital. All I’m saying is that , in a country of endless paradoxes, it would be a stimulating change to see someone “think smart” about creating an equilibrium. But that’s just me.

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Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate by Ibrahim Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at


presentation addiction

I was encouraged by a friend to write about presentation. She was concerned about how to deliver a good presentation while keeping an equilibrium between logic and emotions, and mostly how to avoid getting cheesy? The logic/emotion part is the easiest… The cheesy part is the hardest!

I will start with a personal experience that led me a radical decision. The first time ever I had to deliver a presentation was back in 1987. There were around twelve CEOs and big shots in a hotel conference room. I had to present a marketing plan for the coming year to all these people who represent the region’s dealers for the International company I used to work for.

I was not scared. I was terrified! It took me one minute to reach the stage. (I was sitting right in front of it!) The sheer idea of standing there and speaking to that crowd felt like going to the dentist (you have to understand my relationship with dentists to grasp the breadth of the statement…)

I started my presentation. I was just regurgitating what I spent the past day memorizing. Half way through, I hear a voice… “Ibrahim, it’s enough, we’re falling asleep, let’s stop. Thank you…” This woke me up from my trance. I look at the crowd, I see yawns, hands holding sleepy faces and my boss waving with his hand asking me to stop and step off the stage. I did.

I will not get into the post-shock psychological analysis of the trauma involved with such a humiliation. It was my first year with that company and I had to prove myself. I prove myself to be a moron.

From denial to acceptance… Then came the reflection time. I had two clear choices: Get traumatized, crawl back in my cocoon and never present again; or do something about it. In order to go for option two, I had to understand what it takes to captivate an audience. Here’s what I learned throughout that path.

The audience is usual quite skeptical about your skills and knowledge. They’re here to test you, to challenge you, especially if that audience is a client. The flip-side of the coin is that this puts them in an emotional subjective state. If you manage to use that state to your advantage, you’re a winner. If you challenge it, or simply do not live up to it, you’re dead. You’re not there to impress. You’re there to succeed. Keep that goal in front of you all the time. Forecast the reactions and questions and be ready with the answers. The faster and the better you answer, the more you project expertise and self-confidence.

You are the best visual aid. It does not matter what kind of “visual aids” you use. I hate that term. It makes me feel like I am so not good enough that I need an “aid” to get me through. Some might argue that visual and other aids are meant for the audience, and not because you’re weak. Crap! Your audience is not as stupid as you think. If they come to listen to you, it’s because they yearn to learn something new. That does not make them idiots. So, respect your audience, and raise yourself to their level of expectation. Visual aids should be used in a very clever way. Never throw in cheesy graphics and weird arrows and bull’s-eyes, etc.  just to make it look better. Besides, if you’re captivating enough, why do you need help? You want to be a great presenter? Watch standup comedians. One person alone on a stage facing thousands and making them laugh to tears. No visual aids!

Have fun. Captivating your audience is exactly like being the center of attraction in a party or among your best friends. When you know your material, and you’re witty, and you throw in smart jokes, people bond with you emotionally. They are more inclined to listen to you through not only your slide show, but also through your body language, your tone of voice, your pauses, your gestures. Smile, laugh, chill out. Getting close to your audience generates a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for interaction. The stiffer you get, the colder and more serious the mood.

Know your material. Obviously, the less you know, the less you turn your back to the audience and look at your slides too. If the slides tell all the story, why would they need you??! Never “ever” give away the whole story in your slide show. Tease your audience, make them suffer, crave, hell! Lust for info, and be The One to give it away, not your slide show. sideshows are for boring people. When you know your material, you present it in your own way, which personalizes the whole experience and lets your audience feel how passionate you are towards what you do. How do you expect a client to be passionate about your company if you’re not?

You wear your slide show too. If you must have a slide show, make it short and perfectly well designed. Few words, bullet points, graphics, classy (you heard me? Classy!). Designing your slides is exactly like choosing what to wear at your presentation. It is a reflection of your personality, knowledge and sophistication. Never use existing templates. It’s like borrowing your colleague’s tie. Personalize. Inject your company’s brand to the whole. Let your audience feel how sophisticated you and your company are through the slide show.

It’s rational to get emotional. Even accountants can be creative. There is no dull presentation topics; there are dull presenters. Trust me, I know… Been there! Presentations are about delivering a message, a very clear one. It’s about pushing that message to the far end of your audience’s brain… and heart.

Here’s a metaphor: We remember advertising jingles much more than simple spoken slogans. We remember funny ads far more than serious ones. We remember situations with a twist more than boring daily routines.

Take all of that and put it in your presentation (ok, don’t sing…). Funny presentations and presenters with a twist mesmerize audiences.

Comes the most important part, emotions. I have been asked about that many times and whether it is “ethical” to temper with people’s emotions. We do not temper with emotions, we just communicate with them. When you say I love you to someone, are you tempering with their emotions? When, to boost their morale, you tell an overweight close friend that he or she do look fine, are you tempering with their emotions?

Modern business models strongly believe in the power of emotional bonds between brands and people and between people and people. The cold era of spreadsheets and pie charts is over. Long live infographics! Your audience, be it at a lecture, classroom or client, is far more sophisticated that you think. To believe what you say, to trust you and look at you as an authority, they first need to love you. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird, but hey! That’s what I do for living! And it works miracles.

Again, you are not cheating your audience, you are communicating with their emotions. You do that by first understanding their need, then address it simply, smartly, and straight to the point. For the skeptic: Yes, needs are emotions, even in business. The more you address those needs with an emotional approach, the better it works. Having said that, don’t burst into tears!

Your audience needs to see in you a shrewd and seasoned problem solver with  immaculate rational-thinking, but one who can emotionally connect with their concerns. In fact, here’s an insight: The more you connect, the deeper you can see and guess. Clients love when you guess their worry before they express it.

I did decide to take route number two. I fought my fear, worked on my style and sharpened my skills. Since 1987, I’ve delivered so many lectures, seminars and presentations, I’m not counting anymore. I won many accounts because of presentation. According to them, they love how I manage to speak their minds and reach their hearts!

If you love what you do, they will love what you do. Again, passion is at the heart of success. And passion is undeniably a powerful emotion.

The weirdest? It becomes addictive. The better you get at it, the more you want, the more you do… The better you get at it.

Thank you DB 🙂


January 2020
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Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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