15 Things to Know About Russians Before Your Trip to Russia

My name is Evgenii [yiv-ghe-niy]. I am an ethnic Russian, born and raised in the former Soviet Union, within Russian culture, traditions, and ways of doing things.

Even though I have not lived in my hometown (of Kishinev, Moldova) for the last twenty years (and am a citizen of the United States which I call home now), I had an honor of living in St. Petersburg, Russia for five years, and this is where we consistently spend at least a month of every year.

I haven’t told anyone (until this post), but while I’ve written books on marketing, my livelong dream has been to write a volume on the Russian mindset. In it, I would delve into why Russians act the way they act, and what a foreigner should know about them — to understand and appreciate them.

Having heard of yet another American friend planning a trip to Russia, I started thinking of quick things she should know about Russia and the Russians — to make the most of her trip. As a result, my list of comments grew from a handful of tips to fifteen things to keep in mind as you plan your trip to “Mother Russia”. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Russians and Salutations

“Hi! How are you?” or “Hey! How’s it going?” is a commonplace greeting, but not Russia. Many Russians would argue that when/if they ask someone how they are doing, they really mean it. Equally, when they are being asked the same, their response may go much deeper than “Fine, and you?” Unless you’re ready for it, I suggest you drop that second part of your customary greeting and go with either Privet (Russian for “Hi”) or Dobroye utro, dobry den’, or dobry vecher (literally: “Good morning”, “Good day”, or “Good evening”).

2. Russians and Hugs

This one is closely related to the previous point. Unless it’s a relative or a very dear friend that you’re meeting, Russians do not hug.

Brezhnev kissNeither do they kiss like the infamous Berlin Wall graffiti depiction of Brezhnev and Honecker may presuppose.

Jokes aside, a handshake is a typical element of greeting. What’s important is that you shake hands not only upon meeting someone for the first time, but every time you meet them, especially among men (see the point about women in #11 below).

Remember also that if you are greeting someone with a handshake while sitting, make sure to raise your butt at the moment of the handshake!

3. Russians Don’t Smile

Be it because of their communist history or their generally reserved character, but, unlike westerners, Russians do not smile when making an eye contact with a complete stranger. In certain scenarios, your own smile may even be translated as flirting.

4. Why Russians Decline

NyetWhen a Russian declines an offer (be it of a bottle of water or another “treat”) it may not necessarily mean that they do not want it. It’s a customary sign of “politeness”.

You gotta be sensitive to this and gently offer again. A third (no, not second) decline typically means they really do not care for it.

5. What They Drink in Russia

When you ask for water, do clarify if you want still one (not carbonated or “without gas”). Keep also in mind that it will be offered without ice, unless explicitly asked.

When it comes to alcoholic drinks, the great European grape/grain divide should be kept in mind. If you’re in the south of Russia (or former Soviet Union), wine may be worth tasting. Otherwise, they’ll stick to such grain-based drinks as beer and vodka. Keep in mind that there will be no chilled glasses for beer there (or beer sampling), and never even think about watering down your vodka with ice (it will be served very cold as it is, and sometimes in a chilled shot glass)! Speaking of wine, it is seldom to witness it served at the right temperature, unless you’re in an upscale restaurant.

6. What to Eat in Russia

Since the water used in cooking is going to be different from what you are used to, bring plenty of Tums (or similar digestion helpers), and be ready to use them.

Russian pelmenyWhen ordering food, I recommend going for what’s sourced locally. Instead of a steak, try a kotleta. Also pyure (mashed potatoes) will always be better than french fries. And don’t forget about such staples of Russian cuisine as:

  • Blini
  • Syrniki
  • Mors
  • Borsh’ (no “t” there!)
  • Uha [oo-ha] (fish soop)
  • Rye bread
  • Pel’meni
  • …and herring

7. Tips at Russian Restaurants

Speaking of food and eating, no one expects you to leave a 20% tip (so common in the USA). Somewhere around 10% (rounded up to an easier amount) would be sufficient. In cash, please!

8. Russians Speak Russian

However obvious the above header may sound, it’s worth emphasizing: English-speaking Russians are fairly rare. Unlike in Scandinavian countries or the Netherlands, you’ll be lucking to meet an English-speaking waiter or grocery store assistant — especially outside of a big city.

9. Russians Appreciate

Any nation appreciates you trying to speak their language, and Russians are no exception here. Do learn some basic words and phrases and you’ll be appreciated. It’ll help you with ice-breaking too!

If someone invites you to visit them at their home, it’s a good idea to bring something with you (be it a bottle of wine or a box of candies). Flowers to the ladies in the house will always be a nice touch, too.

10. Russians and Headwear

Russian soldiersBaseball hats indoors are an absolute no-no. In certain cases it is okay for a woman to wear something on her head while inside, but in no case for a man.

Speaking of which: ladies, when you check out an Orthodox Christian church, make sure to cover head before entering it.

11. Russians Have Rules

The “rules” that Russians have could take a book of its own, but here are just a few that come to mind (as the more common ones):

  • Take your shoes off upon entering a house.
  • Don’t sit or put a drink on the floor/ground.
  • Don’t put your feet on the table (or really anywhere but the floor).
  • Take your glove off before shaking someone’s hand (it’s disrespectful to do it otherwise.
  • Don’t initiate a handshake with the woman (if you are a man) as she should be the one deciding whether to initiate it or not.
  • Don’t burp in public (“excuse me” won’t fix it), slam your hand on the table when laughing, or speak loudly… When in doubt, the good rule of thumb is staying modest and reserved.

Oh, and speaking about rules, be very careful crossing the street at pedestrian crosswalks! You might get run over, as not every car will stop at those. Don’t ask.

12. No Sales Tax in Russia

Whatever price you see on the price tag will be the price that you’ll have to pay. They do not add any sales tax at checkouts there.

13. Russians are Superstitious

There are too many superstitions to mention in one paragraph (which is intentionally numbered “13” here), but here are some of the most common ones:

  • Do not whistle indoors (as the house where you do so will have no money).
  • Do not shake hands over a threshold (it’s bad luck).
  • Do not ask for air conditioning in a regular taxi (as you get colds from A/Cs).
  • Do not give buy/give bouquets with even numbers of flowers (unless you’re putting these on a gravestone or a coffin).
  • Do knock on wood in the same situations as in the West.

14. Russian Metro

Moscow metroIf you are planning a visit to Saint Petersburg or Moscow, you must check out the metro! Many of the stations are nothing short of extraordinary in their design and decor. And seeing them won’t cost you a penny more than a regular metro token.

15. Russians are Amazing

Most Russians are actually very warm (somewhere deep inside), sincere, and kind people. If they let you into their heart, you will become friends forever. Respect them, honor their culture, and their ways of doing things, and you’ll have a trip of your lifetime!!

I’m sure there’s more to add to this list. Please do submit your comments and experience(s) using the respective field under this post. Anything that will help travelers to Russia have the best trip ever would be great to have here.

Reviews and Feedback on Geno Prussakov as Affiliate Marketing Speaker

Earlier this year, I spoke at the legendary Affiliate Summit in New York City, NY. This was my nineteenth time speaking at this major affiliate marketing conference. My 30-minute speech was entitled “Evergreen Techniques to Rock at Affiliate Marketing” and it was devoted to a number of practical approaches to turbocharging affiliate marketing campaigns. Coincidentally, a summary of the same by a third party came out just earlier today.

Geno Prussakov speaker review

At the end of every session Affiliate Summit asks attendees to provide their feedback on the speaker and the content presented. Later on, they share these comments with the speakers – a great way to help us learn what we can do better next time we’re on this conference’s stage.

As for my above-quoted speech, here is all of the feedback that I received (in the [unedited] words of the audience).

Reviews on Affiliate Marketing Speaker Geno Prussakov

Really appreciated that he shared his slide deck from the get go. Covered a wide variety of suggestions and evergreen techniques.

Wish it was longer so we could get more in depth.

Speaker had a lot of great info to share, wish he had a keynote spot.

Very clear an specific examples.

Session too short. So much great content here. Wish the speaker had more time to elaborate on each point.

Very good. I hope you’ll have him back and give him more time.

Lots of information – spoke incredibly fast.

Actionable advice, for sure.

Needs more time.

I found this very interesting from the affiliate manager side – helps to better understanding what affiliates need from us to be more successful.

Felt very fast.

This one could have been an hour session. Good info.

Awesome presentation!

It’s tough to get in depth on 11 items with such short time. Good tips though, just wanted more details.

Geno ALWAYS has actionable insights. I try to never miss his sessions at Affiliate Summits.

Good speaker, content more for affiliate/publisher vs. merchant.

Good info. We are a merchant, I felt this was geared much more for publishers.

Good content, but 30 mins was too short for details on all 11 techniques.

Less points and more details would be good for 30 mins, or more time for all 11 points.

Good content, good delivery, on time!

Great!

Impressive.

Too short.

30 minutes is too short for the top speakers.

Too short and condensed. Would have been better to spread the session over an hour.

Great content. Would love it be more in depth.

I personally can’t help but love those “too short” comments. It’s always best to leave the audience (hungry for more) than feeling “stuffed”. Yes, an hour would’ve been better but more susceptible to a “cognitive backlog” though.

If you need a speaker for your event, check out my speaker profile and testimonials here and here and email me if you’re interested in a truly memorable keynote speech for your event, a seminar (or training session), or anything else.


Disclosure: If you click some of the links in this post, and convert into a customer, I may be compensated for this. Regardless, I only recommend products and services that I use personally and believe to be of value.

Affiliate Management: Top 7 Presentations (Slides and Videos)

Affiliate management speakerI speak on affiliate management quite often. This is what I do daily, and this is also the topic to which most of my books were devoted to. In fact, up to this point, most of my public speaking engagements have been centered around the topic of effective management of affiliate programs.

Having just analyzed my most popular presentations on SlideShare and YouTube, two things jumped at me: (1) all of the most-frequently-viewed ones were devoted to affiliate management, and (2) all of them were presented at one conference — Affiliate Summit (between 2010 and 2015).

And, should you wonder, the cumulative viewership of these has already crossed the 50,000 views threshold.

Today I’d like to bring you my top 7 presentations (descriptions and slides for all, and videos where available), hoping that they will help you make your affiliate programs better steering them towards growth and incremental value. Here they are (ranked based on the view count at the time of this post’s publication):

– 1 –

Advanced Affiliate Program Management & Analysis

What is parasitism and channel cannibalization? What KPIs and metrics are important to analyze? How can competitive intelligence help you grow the program? We’ll tackle these & other vital questions.

– 2 –

22 Effective Ways to Recruit Quality Affiliates

There is an array of ways advertisers may recruit new affiliates. Unfortunately, most use only a few. This session will equip you with a rich arsenal of methods and tools to recruit quality affiliates.

– 3 –

5 Foundational Pillars of Affiliate Program’s Success

Affiliate program management entails 5 major processes: affiliate recruitment, activation, policing, communication, and optimization. Geno will equip you with knowledge to effectively handle all five.

– 4 –

Amazon vs. Walmart: Affiliate Marketing Lessons to Learn

One is the planet’s biggest online store; the other is the world’s largest company by revenue. Both engage affiliates to drive sales. Come to discover how & what practical lessons merchants can learn.

– 5 –

Affiliate Program Performance – a Shared Responsibility

Stop blaming the affiliate channel for not working, of working poorly, for you. Look at what you are doing to facilitate better conversions! Attend this session for practical “how to” knowledge.

– 6 –

20 Affiliate Program Management Mistakes To Avoid

We will cover 20 mistakes that affiliate managers routinely commit. Real life examples will be provided. You will take away practical knowledge, and a checklist to compare against your own style.

– 7 –

55 Must-Haves in Every Affiliate Manager’s Toolbox

Geno will uncover 55 tools that effective affiliate managers use to streamline processes of affiliate recruitment, compliance policing, communication, program optimization, and more.

Enjoy these, and should you have any affiliate management-related questions, do not hesitate to hit me up.

Audience Reviews Prussakov’s 50th Speaking Appearance

Quietly it approached, and though most of you haven’t noticed, last week I celebrated my fiftieth worldwide speaking appearance. It happened at one of my favorite conferences — the annual Performance Marketing Insights show (where I also spoke for my 2nd time back in 2007 when they were in London, 12th at Munich 2011, and 43rd at Berlin 2014). This one was held in Berlin, Germany on June 22-24, 2015.

As I got off the stage, one of the locals shook my hand saying that this was “the conference’s best presentation yet” — a compliment to which I never know how to react… Apparently, it really was a fairly decent speech, and I couldn’t be happier. Here are just a few Tweets that happened during and after this “anniversary” speaking appearance of mine:

Should you be looking for a speaker for your conference, seminar/webinar, corporate or any other event, check my availability here and if I’m not (yet) speaking on your dates, hit me up. I’m always open to new speaking opportunities

¿Hablas español? Affiliate Marketing Interview in Spanish

Some of you may remember my Madrid keynote of Performance Marketing Day in 2013 and a corresponding interview in English leading up the show.

(Quizás algunos de ustedes se puedan acordar de mi presentación en el Performance Marketing Day en Madrid en 2013 y de mi entrevista en inglés antes de la conferencia.)

A year later I was approached by a Madrid-based publisher of an eCommerce-focused magazine, Digital Business News, and my interview (translated into Spanish this time) has just been published. You may download and read it by clicking the image below.

(Un año despues, me acercó Digital Business News, una editorial de Madrid que publica una revista sobre el comercio electrónico. Mi nueva entrevista, ahora traducida al español, ya está publicada. Hacen clic en la imagen abajo para descargarla.)

Prussakov - Spanish interview

Download PDF Here

Prussakov’s 2014 Affiliate Marketing Speaking Appearances

I started this year by speaking at Affiliate Summit West 2014 in Las Vegas (Jan 12-14), followed by Affiliate Management Days 2014 speaking appearances in San Francisco (Mar 18-20) and London (May 13-14), and then also at Performance Marketing Insights Europe in Berlin (June 24-25), and Affiliate Summit East 2014 in New York (Aug 10-12).

After a bit of a break, I have a few new speaking appearances coming up (one – as early as tomorrow). Here is the information on all of them:

WEBINAR:

Date: October 14, 2014
Time: 1:00-2:00 pm ET
Place: Online | Register here
Title: “Top Myths & Misconceptions About Affiliate Marketing”
Description: I will take you through some of the most popular myths and misconceptions surrounding affiliate marketing, analyze and debunk them, and help you get the most out of your affiliate marketing endeavors. The webinar is kindly sponsored by Avangate (who also sponsored my 2012 webinar and the 2013 one were I co-presented with CNET).

Avangate 2014 Webinar

TV SHOW:

Date (of recording): October 22, 2014
Date (of broadcast): TBA
Time: TBA
Place: NTV America, New York, USA
Title: Dedicated interview in show “Persona Grata”
Description: Leading up to being awarded my Small Business Influencer of 2014 trophy later that evening, NTV America’s Sergey Gordeev will interview me in/for his NTV America “Persona Grata” show. The channel is a Russian-language one. If this if of interest to you, check back here close to the end of October or beginning of November. I’ll post a link here.

Persona Grata on NTV America

CONFERENCE PANEL:

Date: October 23, 2014
Time: 1:00-1:45 pm ET
Place: ASCEND Summit, Philadelphia, USA
Title: “Affiliate Marketing – Live and Uncut”
Description: Looking to get more bang for the buck from affiliate marketing? Grill our team of experts and have your pressing questions answered. This interactive session promises to be invaluable for affiliate newbies and veterans alike. More here.

ASCEND Summit 2014 by AWeber

Affiliate Marketing Books Not Just for Dummies… Best in E-Commerce

Affiliate marketing books may be split into two main categories: those written for affiliates (i.e. people interested in selling other people’s stuff and making money on commissions) and those published for merchants (i.e. online businesses interested in advertising through affiliates).

I’ve been writing for both groups since 2006. However, it is in the course of the past four years that my two more successful books came out: “Quick Start Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Answers to the Questions You Should Be Asking” (for affiliates), and “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day” (for merchants).

As of today, both are in the Top 10 Best E-Commerce books on Amazon:

If you could use a copy of one or the other, be my guest and grab one. If, however, you’ve already read either of these (or both!) I would highly appreciate you reviewing the respective one here or here.

AM Navigator Named Among Best Affiliate Management Agencies of 2013

While some would rank “best affiliate marketing companies” monthly (often bundling up affiliate program management (or OPM) agencies together with affiliate networks and other vendors in the space), it is the yearly rankings that are most honorable, in my opinion.

There are several of these around — from network specific to industry-wide ones. Among the latter ones in the U.S. are Affiliate Summit’s Pinnacle Awards and ABestWeb’s “The Best Of” Awards.

Myself (and my company, AM Navigator) had the honor of making the list of finalists for Affiliate Summit’s awards (including the 2013 inclusion in the “Affiliate Manager of the Year” category), but it’s been some time since AM Navigator was last nominated for “The OPM of the Year” award at ABestWeb.com. After holding the award for three years in a row (2006, 2007, and 2008) I was thrilled to see us nominated again for 2013.

The voting closed yesterday, and I am happy to see that we, actually, came as #2 (gathering near 30% of all votes):

Thanks to Kush of VM Innovations (who himself holds an Affiliate Manager of the Year 2014 Pinnacle Award from Affiliate Summit) for his nomination, and big thanks to everyone who voted for me, my work, and my business here.

Congratulations also to Greg Hoffman for winning this one, and to all the other nominees. It is a truly amazing line-up of agencies and individuals. I am proud to personally know every one of them.

How Does Esurance’s Social ROI (On $1.5 Million Spend) Stack Up?

Having saved $1.5 million on airing their commercial (which was hardly even a “commercial”!) after the Super Bowl (versus during the big game), and spending this money on a “prize fund,” Esurance certainly did something innovative, as well as bridged the gap between the offline (TV) and the online (Twitter, YouTube, website), and also reaped some interesting results. The online stats that the ad campaign yielded were disclosed by their agency Leo Burnett earlier this week.

Here’s what they tell us of the prices Esurance paid versus what these results normally cost:

  • Hashtag price: $0.28 per use (based on 5.4 million uses of the #EsuranceSave30 hashtag) versus $? (I couldn’t find any data on this one)

 

 

  • Twitter follower: $5.75 per follower (they’ve had 261,000 new followers join the official Esurance Twitter account, yielding an increase of nearly 3,000%) versus the Twitter Promoted Account ad’s “recommended bid” range of $1.50-$2.20 per follower as quoted by Lisa Raehsler in her recent Search Engine Watch article;

 

  • YouTube view: $4.52 per view (they reported 332,000 views of the Esurance commercial on YouTube) versus $0.045 per view that Matthew Peneycad‘s test buy of YouTube TrueView ads yielded (more on Social Media Today), and the $0.07-$0.08 range that I’ve seen quoted elsewhere.

 

Within the first hours of the sweepstakes they also had a 12x spike in website visits to the Esurance’s site. But for this one, we are missing some other important pieces of the puzzle (e.g.: the exact number of newly-acquired visitors, and/or the conversion rate at which these visitors turned into Allstate customers) to make any sensible conclusions.

Of course, the above calculation is based on very simplistic math (merely dividing the $1.5 million by the number of results yielded automatically excludes all the other results from the ROI) and limits itself only to the results registered during the campaign (i.e. before the prize is awarded). It does not and cannot (yet) measure the post-campaign effect, or the brand benefit(s). Nonetheless, however, the Esurance case yields some interesting food for thought that marketers may want to keep in mind when putting together their TV-to-social/online initiatives.

What do you make of this? Was this a successful campaign? Would you go the same route had you had the $1.5 million to spend on a marketing campaign? If not, what would you do differently?

Prussakov’s Fall 2013 Affiliate Marketing Speaking Engagements

In the next 16 days I have three exciting speaking engagements lined up, and I would like to bring them up to your attention today.

Here they are in chronological order:

WEBINAR:

Date: October 22, 2013
Time: 1:00-2:00 pm EST
Place: Online
Title: “Tips & Tricks for Running Successful Holidays Promotions”
Description: In this interactive webinar, hosted by Avangate, myself and Catherine Preisler of CBS Interactive, will walk you through the ways to maximize your affiliate marketing efforts during the holiday season. I will focus on the advertiser side of things, while Catherine, who leads partner development at CNET, will focus on thins from the affiliate perspective. Learn more about the webinar, and register here. All attendees will get a free copy of my latest “Quick Start Guide to Affiliate Marketing.”

WORKSHOP:

Date: October 23, 2013
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm EST
Place: Baltimore, MD, USA
Title: “How to Land More Customers with Affiliate Marketing”
Description: After a successful speaking appearance at the DC Chapter of the American Marketing Association (in front of associations and non-profits) in May of this year, I have been invited to speak on a similar subject in front of businesses at the Baltimore Chapter of AMA. We’ll start from the basics, and walk right through the building, launch and management of an affiliate program that sells. More at AMA Baltimore website. My award-winning “Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day” will be given away for good questions.

KEYNOTE SPEECH:

Date: November 6, 2013
Time: 9:30-10:30 am CET
Place: Madrid, Spain
Title: “Affiliate Program Conversion Optimization: Practical Ways to Improve Performance”
Description: This will be my first time in Madrid, and firs time in Spain. This will also be the first time that OMExpo is running their OMWeeks (in Madrid in the beginning of the month, and in Barcelona at the end of November). I am honored to have been invited to keynote their first-ever Performance Marketing Day where I will share my practical ideas on how to increase the conversion rates of your affiliate-referred traffic. Learn more about it here, and hope to see you there.

The full list of my past and upcoming speaking appearances may be viewed here. If you’d like me to speak in front of your audience, drop me a line today.