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Parra twin brothers create Art with Cold Brews

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“The purpose of art is washing the dust off of daily life off our souls.“ Pablo Picasso

Art is a powerful force that feeds some of the primal needs we have as human beings. A couple of these that are obvious are; art helps us find purpose and meaning and the need to be a part of the community and making a contribution.

Darlen De Leon pictured on the right.

Darlen De Leon pictured on the right.

To this end, the Parra twin brothers came up with a novel idea of creating a traveling art display. They call themselves the Art Rebels. Recently they got on my radar so I had to go check out their traveling display. As it turned out, I got to interview some people that turned out for the first time, an art buyer and the Parra Twins.

First how did they come up with the name, Art Rebels? Their response, “Art is a form of messaging that may not fit the conventional main stream ideology. Art is not bound by norms or confined to palatial museums. Our motif for displays is very rustic, used freight palates, that in and of itself is a statement.”

DisplayOn a Sunday Afternoon, I asked one of the art lovers, Darlen De Leon, what made her come out to check out the art exhibit. A first generation immigrant from Latin America she said she just felt she needed to experience a reconnection with Latino art. Why? Well she works in a work environment feeling disconnected from a higher purpose. She lives a sanitized existence where she strives hard to do a good job while aspiring to climb the authority hierarchy leading to more opportunities.
One art buyer I spoke with, told me she just had to have one painting for a new house she is building. Her vision was glued to one particular painting that just called out to her. She explained how she is the art decorator and that her husband just had to love the painting also.

One other important element of the display is, Gracie Chavez, a DJ who plays music that is synchronistic with the venue and the art on display. It’s like she gives a voice to the art exhibition.
The Parra Twins are serial creators of community projects that they heavily promote on all their social media platforms. Currently, they are scoping out a new bar to showcase their art. It’s well worth you check out this “Art with Cold Brews .“

Stay tuned for something very big happening in the Latino art community. The Parra twins are one of the promoters and supporters of this venue.

Written by Victor Escalante

October 5, 2015 at 12:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Customer Service: Take Care of the Customer or Your Competitors Will

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Customer service is the mantra of the current market. Discriminating consumers, as well as a competitive market place, have forced many businesses to drum the need for excellent customer service into each and every employee. Take my recent experience, for example.

jesus3My over forty eyes made it necessary to purchase eye glasses. Jesus Cardenas, a representative at a local optical store, greeted me with “You have great insurance!” I could not help but to raise my eyebrows in surprise. A competitor just up the street had just informed me how lousy my insurance was! A successful business knows that the customer is king.

The motto of a fiercely competitive marketplace is “If you don’t sell them, your competition will!” History teaches us how many an advertising campaign has gone down in flames due to poor customer service from apathetic employees. So which was it? My insurance seemed to be a pivotal point in my treatment. Jesus, the friendly tech, took the time to verify my insurance himself. The competition did not even let me “hold the puppy,” a strategy to let the customer try before they buy a product.

A simple phone call confirmed what I already knew: I could buy a pair of glasses for only a ten dollar co-pay. The competitor wouldn’t even take the time to show me his wares. Jesus facilitated a win-win situation. He and his colleague who helped me got the sale and I was a happy, satisfied customer.   I may not have the look of Fifth Avenue but I got just the glasses I wanted. The true value was the discovery of a business that values service, as well as business, from a Hispanic consumer. A satisfied customer had become a potential gold mine for referrals.

Ambiance is an essential part of the buying experience. The first retailer was chosen for convenience. Once the door swung shut behind me, however, I had a sense of stepping through a time warp. A sterile, impersonal environment with décor from decades past told the story of a dying business.

Utilitarian furniture, old glass display cases, and an unfriendly owner was my first clue I should have turned and ran. The owner was trying to come off as trendy and modern. Instead, the store looked like a Seventies Show rerun.   His locale only added to the problem. The over-priced frames did not reflect the consumer’s needs. I was shocked to see high priced frames that spoke “Galleria” demographics.

He was either stuck in time or in serious denial. Long gone are the days he could showcase Versace to a booming petrochemical town. Purchasing a pair of glasses from this retailer could have meant the price of a mortgage payment for a blue collar, working class family.

I didn’t even rate a blip on his radar screen with my “lousy” insurance. It was like a high noon showdown in the wild west. The owner took the first shot with his judgment of my insurance. I took the final, killer shot by thanking him and walking out. Another sale lost without any attempt to make a deal.

Now let’s look back on Texas State Optical (TSO). The initial impression when crossing their threshold was of a waiting area that was inviting and visually appealing. I was no longer the sole target of a scornful owner. Even with several other customers present, I was able to approach the counter and be immediately greeted .

Jesus took my information and invited me to have a look around while he verified my insurance. It was ironic that their shelves displayed some of the same brands carried by the competition. The location was within a few miles of their market opponent but they were light years ahead in the game.

Stylish frames ranged from very low cost and practical to the latest designer wares that could have impressed even the most discriminating buyer. Combine this with a friendly sales staff and you have a winning approach for the Hispanic market.

The pride and dedication with which Jesus did his job comes as a family tradition. A tradition passed on from his father, who has over a decade of experience as the top optician. He is the “go-to” man when in a pinch. No custom order is too difficult. TSO also is vested in reproducing quality.

Mr. Cardenas is the head trainer for this retail group of outlets. Jesus comes off as a typical, well-advantaged kid. Appearances can be deceiving. The young, assimilated Hispanic flawlessly delivers service with a smile and in your language of preference. The reality is, he and his family came to the United States from the city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

Mr. Cardenas was a physician in his native Mexico. His only guarantee in life in the United States was the belief that, if he worked hard, his children MAY enjoy a better lifestyle. I am certain that if the full story was told, you would have the content for a “novella” based on reality.

The days of doing odd jobs at the pizza parlor just to put food on the table are long gone. Mr. Cardenas has become another American success story thanks, in part, to an employer who values good work ethic, and dedication allowing employees opportunities to excel.

TSO enjoys a hefty increase in profits due to their commitment of not letting a customer leave unsatisfied. Price is seldom an issue. Their innovative business model allows customers to arrange flexible payment plans that won’t break the family budget.

They even took my “lousy” insurance! Need your glasses fast? Not to worry. Just ask Jesus about the story of a soldier about to be deployed. TSO went above and beyond the call of duty by getting this soldier his glasses in a few days. It is customary to wait as long as two weeks.

Jesus laughingly jokes. “We just wanted to make sure this defender could see what he was doing!” Is great customer service as simple as treating the customer as king, being creative, and innovative in meeting a customer’s financial needs? Jesus and his father would say yes. They have the advantage of working on the cutting edge of Hispanic marketing. This retailer keeps pace with the beat of the Latin rhythm.

Jesus demonstrates all that is right when a company focuses on quality sales experience. At his young age of twenty three, he has already performed a tour of duty with the United States Army. He knows the reality of being an “Army of One.” It certainly felt that way when he gave me a picture perfect buying experience.

Jesus will someday reach his dream of being a civil engineer. Meanwhile, this dynamic father and son team displays the best of what a creative company recognizes in service to the customer. My short trip up the street had more benefit than saving me from a cynical retailer who could have ruined my day. It allowed me to discover this hidden business gem in Pasadena.

Written by Victor Escalante

October 3, 2015 at 4:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Best Practices of Being a Talking Head on Radio and TV

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Radio and TV is sexy and it’s show business. I got my first radio break circa 1995,  when I was invited to be a guest on a radio show on KENS Radio, an am station in San Antonio. I prepared for this event like my whole life depended on it. Little did I know that in the years to follow it was just that, my life. For me, to be in a radio studio for the first time was the equivalent to a kid going to Disneyland for the first time.

This was a health show created and hosted by Allan Copeland. We eagerly waited for the news announcer to open the hour with news on the hour. Then he put the intro and gave us the signal that we were live on the air. I was nervous and excited at the same time. The host did the set up introducing me and then he asked me a question that was a soft pitch. What did I do and what was NLP. Since I was in my element the nervousness started to ease and we started to do the host guest dance on the air. I was hooked. This was heaven for me to have a large audience I could reach via this medium. 1004523_585038764893546_766265408_n

Towards the middle of the program we had callers start to call with questions. This was gold for the host because calls is a good indicator of the interest in the listeners. We reached the one hour time limit and the board operator ended with the outro, after the host signed off. Allan was gracious and he said we had to do it again, all I could think was when? But I did not want to be so eager beaver.

About a month later Allan called me to say he had gotten some good feedback from the station manager and he wanted me back. Needless to say I was elated. This invitation led to landing an offer to have my own show. I went on to produce and host 7 talk shows in 5 stations and two national networks. My last program was a health show where I interviewed physicians and covered interesting medical news. When I had a good guest the cabin was electrifying and the lines were all lit up with callers eager to ask questions or chime in on the discussion.

However, when I had a guest that was not dynamic, it was like pulling teeth on the air and a drag on the program. This led me to develop 18 best practices for doing great interviews on radio, although some of these also apply to TV. I took this a step further and rehearsed with new guests before going on the air. Here are the top 10 you can use if you are about to do a radio interview or if  you are a returning guest on a show. One tip I can give you as a former radio producer is, master these and you will stand out above others to be on a short list to be a guest or even be recommended to other shows on the same station. Welcome to show business my friends. Until next time, break a leg.

Best Practices to be a Guest on a Radio Talk Show

  1. Turn off cell phones
  2. Your mouth should be about 3-4 inches from the microphone.
  3. Always face the microphone, when you turn your face you fade out.
  4. The microphone is highly sensitive and will pick up any little noise; limit your tapping on the table, shuffling papers, clearing voice, coughing, etc.
  5. Determine if you want to give listeners a special offer for that day.
  6. View yourself as a co-host of the show. Make sure your energy and enthusiasm is up. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to ask you the right questions. Go ahead and volunteer information and try to shape the discussion in a way that will interest listeners and serve your purposes.
  7. If the host or a caller asks you a complex question that the answer is lengthy break it down into about a two-minute answer max. If you need more time to give a complete answer let the host ask you a follow up question.
  8. Be loose, relaxed and willing to laugh at yourself. In the words of a famous broadcaster, “Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”
  9. Tell stories of past experience with clients or patients to illustrate a point.
  10. Make the audience feel the problem before you prescribe the cure. For example, suppose your expertise is cosmetic procedures. Don’t start to tell the audience what you do before you set up the problem. Remember this is radio! Talk about how in the past it was cost prohibitive to go to dermatologist due to insurance not covering cosmetic procedures. Give actual examples of how many people suffered the shame of some imperfection and how their self-esteem and career was affected.    The more you emphasize the pain or discomfort with you having the solution the better your chances are of getting new clients. Remember this is information marketing.

Written by Victor Escalante

October 3, 2015 at 2:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Use your Shtick to move the social media needle

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According to the Pareto principle twenty percent of people make things happen grabbing the gusto of success.  When it comes to social media marketing the actual percentile may be half of that.  Much closer to the actuary tables used by insurance companies. But before we get to those numbers the question that begs answering is why such a low figure and what proof is there?

The  short answer is successful people have shtick  and a proven strategy to stand out.  Webster defines shtick as, one’s special trait, interest, or activity.  Every single person has it but few ever really develop it to its full potential.

Larry King will go down in history as one of the most successful broadcasters in the history of radio and TV. He worked at developing his shtick by being passionate about broadcasting. But this came after he paid his dues. Early in his career he had an unstable work history being fired and even having a brush with the law.  Fearful of his creditors calling the radio station live on the air, he manged to keep them at bay long enough to turn things around. How did Larry rise from being a deadbeat to being a multi-million dollar brand?  

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Written by Victor Escalante

September 30, 2010 at 11:44 pm

What advertisers can learn from American Idol

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Simon Cowel is an icon of people we love to hate. It is a great ploy to turn American Idol into one of the hottest shows on television. He also happens to be a brand within the larger brand known as “American Idol’. Today’s media is fragmented and it takes a bigger bang to get attention.

Even Viacom’s CEO Sumner Redstone would be forgiving of Simon Cowel’s publicity antics if his network owned the show. By comparison Tom Cruise would be a centered monk next to Simon. He may be the most famous critic everyone loves to hate. We just cannot seem to get enough American Idol, it is an undisputed run away success phenomena. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victor Escalante

January 12, 2009 at 6:46 pm

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The seven secrets of sales superstars

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Part I

They know how their product or service is the solution for the qualified company.  In today’s highly volatile marketplace every company large or small is faced with unexpected problems.  You have heard and read the cliché phrase, “sell benefits.”  The stellar salesperson is a modern day Sherlock Holmes at finding the elementary problems of key accounts they are targeting to position themselves to be the preferred vendor with the solution mojo.

In my own experience I once targeted a company that the sales cycle was a year to get the first order. It was part luck, part knowing their problems, and having a breakthrough solution from our R&D department.  That one small trial order progressed into growing that company into the second largest account in sales revenue.

We have entered into an era of specialization.  The superstar salespeople know how to become experts at providing simple solutions to complex problems.

Part II

They get the job done!  It sounds so basic and yet so difficult to achieve by mediocre salespeople.  Superstar sales people have the stick to itiveness.  They show up for preset appointments prepared.  They follow through on promises made during the initial sales call when they are in the discovery phase of the customer’s real problems. They attend to the details of processing work orders to make it frictionless.

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Written by Victor Escalante

January 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


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