Friday, September 23, 2016
Role of Printing in Storytelling
The development of the printing press gave stories new life because they could be disseminated on a broader scale and replicated easily. No longer were scribes necessary for copying expensive books and papers. Not only was the rich, cultural history and religious beliefs of various people shared among a wider community, but pure fiction was written for the purpose of entertainment and enjoyment for the masses. For those who were not taught to read, stories were read and passed around by those who could.
Storytelling in the Digital Age
While it has become easier to distribute stories in the digital age, and more of the world's population is educated enough to read, storytelling continues to be a powerful way to distribute a message to people. Computers and the internet make spreading the word faster, but the concept of an oral tradition is easily seen in the many repetitions of news stories online from different slants or points of view. The question lies in how an entity or brand can create a unified story to present to an audience or market. With the unique ability to duplicate digital image and print and distribute them through many channels, storytelling can be a powerful tool for marketing a company or organization.
Incorporating Storytelling in Marketing and Branding
A recent article in Search Engine Journal(https://www.searchenginejournal.com/5-benefits-using-storytelling-marketing/164213/) discusses the benefits of storytelling as a method for branding. The author, Katy Katz, talks about how storytelling creates connections and potential bonds between a brand and a market. When thinking about storytelling for a brand, call to mind some of the brands that you grew up with that have become common words in the American culture such as Kleenex, Coke or Pampers, often used to replace the actual word for the item being talked about. While creating a storytelling campaign for your own brand may not turn it into a common household word, you will still be able to cement the story with the brand name to create lasting memories in the minds of your audience.
Benefits of Brand Storytelling
Katz mentions 5 benefits to brand storytelling in her article.
1. Storytelling builds memories.
2. Storytelling is a natural motivator.
3. Storytelling builds relationships.
4. Storytelling makes content exciting.
5. Storytelling can make something old, new again.
How Can You Use these Benefits to Your Advantage in Marketing?
Since most businesses have competitors that offer products or services that are similar to theirs, branding offers a way to show your differences. Creating a brand story or even just telling your brand's story in a cohesive manner can give your audience reasons to bond with you beyond pricing or product quality. An excellent example of brand storytelling is the way Tom's Shoes has incorporated their brand name with their history of giving. (http://www.toms.com/stories/giving/10-years-of-giving-together) They have created not only an excellent product, but a compelling reason to buy from them.
You can do the same.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Would You Want to Work for Your Business?
If you want to attract high-value employees in a marketplace that is growing increasingly competitive with each passing day, you need to start by putting yourself in their shoes. What are some things that 21st-century talent may be looking for that you aren't currently offering?
Thanks to things like SaaS (software-as-a-service) and IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service), the ability for businesses to allow employees to work remotely has become a significant priority for quality applicants. Even if you don't feel comfortable bringing someone on and allowing them to work from the home full-time, see if having them work remotely two out of the five business days is something you can manage.
Likewise, BYOD (bring your own device) has become a significant priority for younger employees. It lets them bring their own smartphones, tablets and other devices to work that they already feel comfortable using, thus increasing the overall quality of the work they're able to generate. It also helps save money for businesses, as you no longer have to pay to purchase and maintain a computer for an employee if they're already bringing one from home. These small changes to your existing policies can go a long way towards creating the type of environment and culture that attracts the talent you're after.
Another one of the core ways to attract valuable employees these days involves being as competitive as possible when it comes to job perks. Apple, for example, has a now-legendary attraction strategy that includes not only traditional perks like healthcare, but also things like educational reimbursement as well. Not every company has the type of bankroll that Apple does, but it's always important to remember that making an investment in your employees through competitive perks is ultimately an investment in the future of your company.
These are just a few of the many ways that you can create the type of environment that makes it easy to attract high-value employees and even easier to retain them for the long haul. Remember: quality employees don't grow on trees, and the difference between someone who is "just punching a clock" versus someone who is putting their blood, sweat, and tears into the task at hand is an immense difference, indeed. By putting yourself in their shoes and creating the type of company they can't help but want to work for, you, in turn, create the kind of company clients can't wait to do business with.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Julia's mother, Chrissy, said that when her Julia was born, she couldn't hear her mom and would smell Chrissy's neck for comfort instead. The moment Chrissy picked up Walter, he did the same thing. "I remember just looking at him, and I knew that he was meant to be ours," she said in a Humane Society video. Walter was the last puppy of his litter to be adopted, but the Humane Society did not give up hope.
The Pasadena Humane Society, which introduced the two, posted a video of Julia and Walter on their page. The reaction was immediate and positive. "Amazing!!" said one commenter. "This is my dog, Wyatt. He is also deaf, and he has no idea he is different."
When we are communicating with our prospects and our customers, we can take some valuable lessons from Julia and Walter:
1. Different customers will respond to different communication.
Customers are not all the same. You will deal with Millennials and Boomers, urban and rural folks, and people from different income brackets and areas of the country. It is important to segment your marketing lists and create materials for each individual group.
2. Remember that each group does not think of itself as a segment.
Just like the dog Wyatt who thinks himself like any other dog, your customers just think of themselves as ordinary people. Talk to them directly and respectfully. Never talk down to a group. Don't use slang that is not in keeping with your brand. This can feel false and off-putting.
3. Remember that consistent marketing is key.
Don't just reach out to each segment once. Create follow-up emails and other remarketing opportunities. If you do direct mail, send a follow-up postcard to go out to people who did not respond to your initial offer. Just like raising puppies requires a long-term commitment, nurturing a prospect from initial contact to conversion takes patience, time and effort.
Marketing segmentation takes more time and attention than a shotgun approach. But, over time, you will find that it consistently increases your return on your marketing investment and helps you build stronger relationships with your clients.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Organizations that want to leverage the power of modern technology with as few of the downsides as possible would do well to learn three specific letters as quickly as possible: V, P, and N.
What is a VPN?
Short for "virtual private network," a VPN is exactly that - a private network that extends across either a public network or a larger, global network like the internet. Think of it as a lane on a highway that only you and your employees are allowed to use while on your way to work. Sure, there are other cars out on the road trying to get to various destinations, but YOU are the only one who gets to enjoy that one, special lane.
This may be a bit of an oversimplification, but this is largely the idea at the heart of a VPN. It allows users like yourself to both send and receive information over public networks like the internet with all of the privacy and security they would expect if they were connected to a smaller private network in their office.
Many businesses use VPNs to help increase security as more employees work remotely. Using a VPN, remote users can connect back with the head office, or regional offices can connect with one another, without worrying about anyone with malicious intentions intercepting their traffic.
Why is a VPN So Important?
For business professionals on the go, VPNs are important, thanks to one simple, little word: security. While connections to the internet are a dime-a-dozen, SECURE connections are much harder to come by. If you hop onto the Wi-Fi network at your local Starbucks to send some important files to a client, anyone on that some network could potentially "snipe" that file out of the air and gain access to it if they know what they're doing. This is because Starbucks' network was designed to be public so everyone could use it, which unfortunately means any and all traffic going over that network is essentially up for grabs.
However, if you used that same Starbucks Wi-Fi connection first to connect to your VPN, the kid with the laptop three tables over trying as hard as possible to read your emails can "hack" all he'd like, but he won't be learning your trade secrets anytime soon. VPNs allow businesses to extend the security of their local intranet while located out of the office, allowing remote employees to be as productive as they need to be without worrying about something like a data breach.
These are just a few of the key reasons why VPNs are so important for today's modern business world. When dealing with something as inherently volatile as the internet, the security and privacy benefits alone are more than worth the investment, even - and before you begin to think about the added level of protection this gives to employees working out of the office. In an era where data breaches are all too common, and concern with data privacy is at an all-time high, virtual private networks are one of the single, best ways to remain protected and productive at the same time.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
There IS an "I" in Team - It's Just Silent
An old saying has told us for years that "there is no 'I' in 'team'", meaning that in order to become a successful, respected leader, you have to put aside your own needs and look at yourself as just one part of a larger whole. While this is certainly true, from the perspective of a leader there actually IS a pretty important "I" in team. It's just that most people use it incorrectly.
As a leader, you don't lead by delegating authority or even by simply demanding excellence from those around you. You lead by example. You always have (whether you realize it or not) and you always will. You set the tone for everything that happens. Think about it - if you like to joke around throughout the work day, your team members will probably joke around a bit, too. If you like to keep things a bit more on the serious side, the mood of your team members will reflect that.
This is a clear-cut example of the two-way street of team leadership, and it is one you NEED to know how to use to your advantage. Never, under any circumstances, should you ask something of your employees that you would be unwilling to do yourself. Don't say to your new graphic designer, Timothy, "Hey, we're a bit behind on this upcoming project and I need you to come in on the weekend." Instead, say, "Hey, so that we can get caught up, I'm going to be coming in on the weekend and I would really appreciate it if you could find the time to as well." This goes above and beyond just showing your team members that they're appreciated. It lets them know that you're not JUST the team leader, you're a part of the team as well. Of course, you might not always be able to come in on the weekend yourself, but showing your willingness is more of the idea here.
Pay attention to the way this idea plays out in visual cues, as well. If you want your employees to dress more professionally in the office, don't call them together and reprimand them for their current appearance while you're wearing beach shorts and flip-flops. Doing so will end in slowly chipping away at that high-functioning team you worked so hard to build in the first place. If you show up every day at the office dressed in a suit and tie, just watch how your employees will rise to meet your dress code.
A Team Shares EVERYTHING
This idea also plays out in how you celebrate your accomplishments or lack thereof. By making yourself a more ingrained part of the team and sharing the challenges, it means that you truly get to share in the victories as well. Remember - you don't work in a vacuum. When a project finishes successfully, people may want to give you the credit because "you told the right people to do the right things." You didn't. Never forget that you're just one small part of a larger whole. If you were willing to share the challenges, you have to share the victories as well - this means that any success is the TEAM'S success, not yours.
In the end, the phrase "team leader" is actually something of a misnomer. People tend to think of it as immediately positive - you're in a position of authority and that is something to be celebrated. While this may be true, it's also something that can be far too easily abused - even unintentionally - if you're not careful. If a chain (or team) is only as strong as its weakest link, you need to understand that the weakest link will ALWAYS be the team leader by default. Your number one priority is making sure that the entire team is moving forward through the way you treat your team members, the way you behave, and the way you show them that you're all in this together.
"Did you hear about Kathy? She is dating one of her supervisors..." or "I think Corey is on something. He has been late a lot lately and his eyes are watery..."
And with that bolt of lightening you have an out-of-control wildfire on your hands. It only takes one person to spark this type of destruction. Once one person speculates to another and then another, that speculation soon becomes a "fact," and the object(s) of the gossip are in a position to defend the truth. This type of defensive space can shut down trust and, as a result, the creativity and collaboration that take so long to cultivate are lost. Gossip wars can emerge with retaliation, and the cycle of destruction keeps on going.
So how can you protect your workplace from gossip? Here are a few tips to help you guide your employees in stamping out the gossip wildfire.
Change the Subject.
If a conversation isn't heading in a positive direction, encourage staff to change its course by politely changing the subject. It can be easy to say something that's interesting - and upbeat - while also sending them a clear signal that you don't want to talk about whatever you perceive to be gossip.
Say something positive about the person who's the target of gossip.
No matter how negative a story about a person may seem, we rarely have all of the facts and there are likely positive qualities to that person. Remind people who are engaging in gossip that the person they're talking about has done or said something praiseworthy by mentioning something specific that's positive.
Confront gossip politely yet firmly.
Stand up to people who are gossiping by saying that you don't want to know about the story they're trying to tell you. Don't hesitate to call out gossip when you hear it, but do so with grace. For example, you could say something like: "That sounds like it is none of my business, so I don't really want to hear any more. Let's just drop it." Encourage your employees to hold others accountable for their choice of words.
Point out missing information.
If all else fails, ask questions that point out gaps in a story, such as specific times and places of events that supposedly happened. Challenge gossiping people to tell you how they personally verified the information they're spreading about others. Help them see that just because they heard a story doesn't mean it's true - and even if it is, they can't possibly have an accurate perspective on the situation.
Making it clear to your staff that gossip will not be tolerated. Eliminating gossip in the workplace will perpetuate an ongoing culture of kindness and respect.
Monday, April 18, 2016
You may be thinking, "Well, I'm smart...why aren't my dreams coming true with my existing goals?" The trouble is not your I.Q. The trouble is likely with your goals. Successful entrepreneurs set goals with 5 key factors. Their goals are:
Let's break down what all that means...
Goals that are specific address the what, why, and how of the goal. An example might look something like this: "Increase our Facebook followers to reach more clients by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign." Breaking that down further, the "what" of this goal is increasing your Facebook followers. The "why" is to reach more clients. The "how" is by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign.
Goals should be measurable so that you can have real evidence of whether you've accomplished your goal. To build on our prior goal, we could add the following: "Increase our Facebook followers by 50% to reach more clients by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign." This way we know where we started and where we want to go, and can also gauge our progress based on interim numbers.
We've all made goals in our lives that have been clearly unachievable, like losing 50 pounds in 10 days. There's just no way that's going to happen without us hacking off a leg, right? On the other hand, we don't want to limit ourselves. So, it's best to find a balance as to what will stretch your company a bit while still being achievable so you don't give up. You want to keep yourself and your employees and partners motivated.
In setting goals, we want the focus to be realistic or results-focused goals. That means focusing on the results of our efforts, not necessarily the activities we undertake to get there.
Finally, you want your goal to be fulfilled in a discrete period of time. Goals without deadlines just turn into dreams if you keep pushing things off until tomorrow. So, let's go ahead and bring this all together. Let's say you've got 5,000 Facebook followers and it took you 1 year to get that many followers. Now, you want to increase that by 50%. Applying the above, our SMART Goal is now:
"Increase our Facebook followers by 50% in 6 months to reach more clients by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign."
You've now put an achievable deadline for this goal of 6 months, which seems reasonable given the time it took you to get the first 5,000 followers and the fact that you've got some traction now to build on.
Try this technique with the rest of your goals, no matter how small they may be, and you can start tracking and achieving your business goals like a pro.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
What Your Typography Says About You
The term typography does not refer to any one particular type of font, but rather an entire family of fonts. Serif and Sans Serif are two different fonts, for example, but they both belong to the same family. Serif and Times New Roman, on the other hand, are two completely different font families.
Simple typography selection can actually be a great way to make a particular impression on your reader even before they've had a chance to digest what your marketing materials are saying. Serif fonts tend to invoke a feeling of professionalism or traditionalism, for example, while fonts designed to mimic handwriting tend to come off as much more casual and approachable. Script fonts tend to be perceived as more formal. As a result, when crafting your buyer personas you should be thinking about not only what they want you to say, but how they want you to say it. An older target audience would likely respond more to Serif typography, whereas a younger audience may prefer the additional friendliness that handwriting-style typography conveys.
One of the major benefits of making strong typography choices in your marketing materials feeds back into the larger idea of brand consistency. Take the typography of your corporate logo as just one example. By making a strong typeface decision early in the designing process and using the same overarching idea across all mediums, you can make all of your communications feel like they're coming from the same place. If your print flier uses the same basic typography selection as your website, for example, they suddenly feel like they're coming from one place even though they're being digested via two incredibly different forms of communication.
Controlling Pace with Typography
Typography can also be a great, subtle way to dictate the speed at which certain marketing materials can be read. Say you have a 500-word print flier that you can't edit to be shorter, but also are afraid may be overwhelming to the reader. By using a different typography selection to highlight certain key points, you're immediately commanding the reader to stop and pay attention to those lines. All of the information is still there, but if their eye is naturally drawn to the contrasting typography (as it likely will be), they can skim the entire flier if they want and still walk away with the message you wanted them to receive.
These are just a few of the ways that typography ultimately feeds into how successfully your message is received by your target audience. By taking a deeper level of control over typography, in addition to crafting the specific message you're trying to convey based on word-choice, your brand stands a much better chance of making the type of positive and meaningful impact on your target audience that you were after in the first place.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
For the past two decades, digital media has been rapidly replacing many of our formerly traditional ways of doing things, from watching television, reading the newspaper, to yes...print marketing. With the democratization of information that the internet has brought, more and more people are consuming this information digitally. Social media and search engine algorithms target our interests and bombard us with advertisements directed at those interests, to the point that we've become immune to the ancillary advertising "noise" that surrounds the article that we are reading online. Ad-ridden blogs and online media are now considered traditional.
Getting Attention With Quality Print Marketing Materials
A well-designed print marketing device can effectively break through the noise and grab your customers' attention. Print marketing can take on many forms, including:
oBusiness Cards: Different shapes, sizes, die cuts, and formats grab people's attention and make for some great talking points that help build relationships.
oInvitations: Having a grand opening or special occasion? Send out printed invitations and make people feel they are connected.
oPostcards: Whether for direct mail purposes or periodic sales or coupons, postcards can bring in a surprising amount of business.
oMenus of Services or Products: Printed on high-quality paper with excellent design and copy, these types of marketing products add personality to your business.
Poke Your Customers Periodically to Keep Yourself on Their Minds
Marketing doesn't end when the sale is made. Customer retention is a key part of a successful marketing plan. Following up with the customer can increase retention and build loyalty. Sure, you could send them an email, but really, email is where messages come to die. Consider instead a few timed mailings to keep them engaged, such as:
oThank You Cards: Sending out a card thanking them for their purchase and providing a time-limited discount on their next purchase makes customers feel appreciated and welcome.
oSeasonal Postcards: Consider seasonal postcards with loyalty discounts on relevant seasonal items.
oReferral Cards: Create loyalty and more business by sending out referral cards to encourage your customers to spread the word. You could also offer a discount to both the existing customer and the new customer they bring in.
oStickers: Put your logo, tag line or a branded and relevant inspirational quote on a sticker to put on cars, computers, water bottles, and other personal gear.
Obtain Thought-Leader Status With Print Magazines or Newsletters
While many of the more traditional news magazines are transitioning to digital-only formats, the fact of the matter is, 80% of individuals who read newspapers read them in print. People actually trust written content more than they trust online content. This is true of both information and of advertising. So, depending on your industry, it may be a good idea to create a periodical print magazine or newsletter to give your customers or prospects informative and entertaining news and information that they will be excited to get each month, quarter or year.
Regardless of what type of print marketing you use, telling people a good story or giving them useful and entertaining information will make them loyal customers.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Besides being associated with love, energy, and vitality, the color red stimulates our appetites. It's no wonder fast food chains such as McDonalds, Carl's Jr., KFC, Wendy's and Popeye's have integrated the color red prominently in their logos and trade dress. If you're developing a logo and brand identity for your restaurant, food or beverage products, incorporating red may not be a bad idea. Caveat: Remember when your parents would ask you, "If Jimmy jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?" I know, some of you said yes, just to be obstinate, but don't doom your product to a lifetime lost in a sea of sameness just because the research says it'll make people hungry.
Starbucks founders Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker clearly didn't follow Jimmy off the cliff when they created their iconic green and white logo. Their caffeinated clientele aren't looking for any more stimulation beyond that which is provided by the aroma of ground coffee beans in the air. What they are looking for, and what the color green represents, is harmony, tranquility, and calm. The founders' goal was to create an environment that would encourage people to sit back, relax and drink their coffee with friends. By luring customers in with the green and white siren and surrounding them with warm, natural tones, they created a movement.
Trust Issues Anyone?
Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, AT&T, Forbes, Ford and countless other corporations all use the color blue predominantly in their brand identities. It's not just because blue is hands-down the favorite color of the majority of men and women, but rather, blue is associated with calmness and peace. Psychologists have found that when people view the color blue, they feel confident, comfortable and trusting. Of course, healthcare providers, purveyors of information, and one of the oldest car manufacturers in the history of man would want people to associate their products and services with trustworthiness and dependability.
Plucking Personality from the Rainbow
The colors that you choose for your brand need to reflect not only your product's personality but also the personality of those you wish will buy your product. You want them to feel a certain way when they think about your product, and while not all colors will universally affect everyone in the same way, statistically speaking the odds are ever in your favor. With that said, here are some handy guidelines to understanding color when picking your brand colors.
o Yellow - evokes feelings of optimism, clarity and warmth
o Orange - brings up feelings of cheer, confidence, and friendliness
o Red - arouses the senses with excitement, passion, and love
o Purple - imagination and creativity are the hallmarks of this color
o Blue - tells a story of trust, strength, dependability, and calm
o Green - associated with health, nature and peace
o White - linked to purity, calm and balance
Additionally, colors like gold, silver and black are often associated with luxury items because they conjure feelings of sophistication and wealth.
Remember, always keep your audience in mind when choosing your colors and avoid getting caught in the sea of sameness.
Monday, February 1, 2016
Brand awareness, of course, is the extent to which a name, label, logo, catch phrase, jingle, or another identifier that is associated with a brand, a specific product, or a company is easily recognized by customers. Brand awareness may be old news, but the Internet has taken the concept to new heights, becoming far more measurable and quantifiable as part of an overall marketing strategy.
There are many examples of successful brand awareness implementation. It has always been primarily produced by effective advertising. The most dramatically successful advertising campaign is the one where your product becomes synonymous with the product category. For many years now, a facial tissue has been called a Kleenex regardless of what actual brand was used. This is the same result we see when some people refer to any sport-utility vehicle as a Jeep and any cola drink as a Coke.
The objective in advertising or any brand awareness marketing endeavor is not simply to get your product name or image in front of the consumer. It is to get the image into the mind of that consumer, so when the buying customer wants a product, he or she wants your product before that of any competitors. Repetitious advertising creates a memory trace that remains and is reinforced with every additional occurrence. Think of mayonnaise, hot dogs, ketchup, beer, and coffee. The odds are pretty good that in each case you thought of a specific brand. It is no coincidence that the biggest selling brands are also among those most heavily advertised in various media.
While a successful advertising campaign can create solid brand awareness, a limiting or cessation of advertising can erase the gains in a remarkably short time. Forty years ago, a steel wool soap pad was known as a Brillo Pad. Today, SOS brand is the big seller. Brillo sometimes doesn't even get any shelf space, and we must ask when was the last time you saw an ad for Brillo scouring pads? The manufacturer failed to maintain the brand awareness level they had established. A massive advertising campaign by the manufacturers of SOS soap pads was the driving force that changed the landscape.
Advertising remains key to this process, and today the most critical medium for reaching the customer is the Internet. No other medium offers such widespread advantages in both reach and monitoring capacity. With the Internet, you can track how many times your ad has been viewed and how many times it has been clicked on.
Furthermore, social media and blogging have opened up new avenues for tracking your brand's impact. Programs exist that can tell you how many times your brand has been searched for by a search engine. Others can reveal how many times it has been mentioned in a blog anywhere on the World Wide Web. These "mentions" can be even more critical to brand awareness than page views or clicks because each one may represent an impartial testimony to your product. Even negative discussion tends to reinforce brand awareness. The old saying applies: There is no such thing as bad publicity.
Establish it, reinforce it, and nurture it. Brand awareness can make the difference for you in becoming another brand like Kleenex.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
As business leaders, we must sometimes look at our own businesses with x-ray eyes: uncovering and treating problems beneath the surface before they get out of hand or cause permanent damage.
Few businesses run perfectly. As any company grows, it will experience bumps, bruises, and hiccups along the way. Part of running the business involves being able to lead the company through these times, so you can come out the other side stronger and better prepared for the future. Many times, this involves easy fixes. Perhaps a new employee is needed to handle greater demand or a policy might need to be tweaked to adapt to an evolving workflow.
Sometimes, however, problems are not so easy to fix. Take, for example, customer service. We've all experienced times (as customers) when we've felt like we're being passed around from person to person, trying to find a simple answer to our question. By the time we get our answer, we're so frustrated with the process that we end up completely annoyed with the company. This damages the company reputation and may even cause us to stop doing business with them.
As a business leader, you need to realize that these kinds of deep, penetrating problems cannot be fixed with simple, one-size-fits-all solutions. Sometimes, you need to look deeper and see where the 'bone' is broken -- and how badly -- before you can begin to treat the symptoms and heal your company. Only after you have a clearer picture of what's really going on can you find the right way to fix the problem and make your company stronger for the long run.
Making the repair
If your company is facing a major problem that can't be fixed easily, don't be afraid to go back and start over in finding the solution. While it can certainly be intimidating to think about how long the process will take and how much potential revenue you might lose along the way, it's important to remember that taking the time to complete these repairs properly will make your company stronger over the long haul. This, in turn, will help to boost revenue and make up for lost time. Companies that neglect to make difficult but necessary changes often find themselves losing money (and customers).
So how can you go about fixing tough problems? Start with these steps.
- Sit down and plan out exactly what your end goal will be. Providing higher-quality customer service is one possible example.
- Work backwards to generate ideas about how this goal can be reached. This will typically involve doing industry research and learning more about what the competition does to accomplish a similar aim.
- Educate and retrain all members of the organization about the new methods and procedures, so everyone is on the same page, even those who aren't directly involved with the affected areas.
- Invite feedback from customers and employees to see how well the changes are working.
Growing a business sometimes means being willing to go back to the drawing board to see how a key part of the business can be changed and repaired to make it stronger in the future. Don't be afraid to 'x-ray' your business and find ways to help it grow in the years to come.
Friday, January 15, 2016
Identify Where the Goal Posts are in the First Place
One of the most important steps to take at the start of any new year involves developing a plan for the days, weeks, and months ahead. Simply put, January is the perfect time to start developing both a short-term and a long-term strategy to identify where you see your company going and, more importantly, how it's going to get there. During this period, it is always important to develop a list of priorities for you to hit along the way. You'll also have to assess your own sense of accountability and put a process in place to manage these priorities as time marches on.
Reassess Your View of Your Own Organization
Another key step to take at the start of a new year involves taking a long, hard look at your company as it stands today and compare it both to where you started and where you hope to end up. Businesses change as they mature - this isn't something that you can avoid. The key is that you should always be changing in a positive way. Where do you stand on January 1 in relation to your goals compared to where you stood in December of the previous year? What are the strengths of your business and how have they changed over time? What are your current weaknesses as they relate to your ultimate strategy and what can you do to turn them into positive attributes in the short-term? This allows you to create a realistic picture of your business as a whole, and more importantly, create a realistic view of the future.
Who Are Your Current Leaders?
In the world of business, leaders aren't necessarily created - they're born. If you take a natural leader and drop them into an unfamiliar environment, they will eventually rise to the top. They can't help it. One of the great opportunities that the new year presents involves looking within and identifying the people who may have proven themselves to be exactly this type of leader during the last year. Key leadership, in relation to these individuals, is of paramount importance when it comes to both creating the type of company culture that you need and setting the tone for the priorities that you will attempt to seize in the next year and beyond. A leader isn't an asset if you don't know that they're there in the first place, so always look for those who have proven themselves to help align your organization with your own strategy and gain valuable insight into the steps you should be taking moving forward.
These are just a few of the important steps that you should be taking at the start of a new year to get your business headed in the right direction. Waning from the intended path is natural, particularly as a company reaches maturity. The new year represents an excellent opportunity to take stock of how far you've come and to make sure that you're still headed in the direction that you hoped you would be when you got into this business in the first place.