Go here to access the series: https://www.verbaccino.com/the-worldly-marketer-podcast/
Go here to access the series: https://www.verbaccino.com/the-worldly-marketer-podcast/
How many touchpoints does it take to convert a target into a buyer?
Marketing and sales experts will often quote a common belief that it takes seven touchpoints to convert an identified target to a customer. This is a good rule of thumb for budgeting and planning. Pipeline data and analytics should confirm whether this is true within your organization.
Whether three, seven or 13 touches are required to convert a target to a buyer, the fact remains that well-coordinated touchpoint strategies between sales and marketing are critical to fully maximize the value of any investment in customer acquisition. This applies to people, methods and technology. The key to successful returns on this investment is identifying the “best” mix of touchpoints that amplify results. And this requires constant analysis, agility and oversight by sales and marketing executives.
The initial step in maximizing the impact of touchpoint strategies begins with a coordinated sales and marketing plan detailing each touchpoint used for awareness and engagement.
The touchpoints plan should outline every organized touch along the customer’s buying journey. From the initial stages of targeting and brand awareness campaigns to engagement with a sales professional, all touchpoints should be deliberate in activity, call-to-action and expectation of results. This applies to both B2B and B2C.
A touchpoint is defined as the contact made with a customer or prospect in the buying and selling process.
What are the most frequently sales and marketing touchpoint strategies used to convert a target from awareness to engagement?
As you can see from the list, it is easy to find at least seven methods to reach your target audience. Each method can have multiple uses and characteristics. Experience, time, target types and cost will help determine the most effective methods for selling your products and services.
It is vital to utilize a mix of touchpoints and apply them to every single target to increase your conversion probability. Obviously, the goal is to convert with fewer touches; however, it is essential to plan for the complete mix.
Touchpoint strategies should not be left to circumstance. A touchpoint plan must answer who is responsible for each touchpoint, the medium that will be utilized, what will be said and how it will represent the brand. It needs to outline the schedule of activities and KPIs set against the expected outcomes to benchmark and measure success. Again, touchpoints should be married to the customer journey to ensure that every touchpoint is fully utilized to push and persuade the contact to buy.
Consistency in outreach, timing and messaging for all areas within the plan requires alignment to the business goals and should be shared company-wide.
One of the greatest failures is not leveraging the entire customer journey to completely benefit from all touchpoints. This happens when sales and marketing are not setting expectations on how, what and when touchpoints are utilized and who is responsible for delivery.
Everyone in a organization sells. This means everyone should fully understand and value the sales and marketing coordinated touchpoint strategies. It is the leadership of sales and marketing that must then work hand-in-hand to ensure that the investments made into touchpoints are actualized to generate results.
We all can hope for the one touch that leads to a conversion. Those tales often are ones that are repeated in company folklore. The facts remain, it most frequently takes multiple touches to successfully convert targets to leads, then leads to buyers. Coordination between sales and marketing only increases results and impact.
Work together and expect more. Create your plan, set your targets, define your activities and measure your success. That is how you will maximize the results of your coordinated touchpoint strategies.
Jamie Glass, CMO + President, Artful Thinkers, a sales and marketing consulting company.
In the era of automation, most of the focus has been on the impact to the doer. Those that have “doing” skills and who provide labor to craft, manufacture, architect and supply goods and services have felt the quake of automation for decades.
Automation is evolving and so is the conversation related to the skills it impacts. This comes in the wake of explosive opportunities resulting from artificial intelligence (AI). There are many that believe AI is a form of automation for the “thinker.”
“There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better. I want to be clear. These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen.” Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space X
The consequences of automation is very prevalent in sales and marketing, as companies heavily invest and rely upon technology to create, engage and deliver their brand promises and customer experiences to targeted audiences.
The amount of marketing technology available today is staggering, along with the voluminous amounts of data that is produced from its implementation. By example, check out the 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic to get a sense of what marketers are trying to digest as to the vast array of automation options available to deliver “better” results.
As marketing strategy becomes more and more reliant on data and analytics to formulate effective content and messaging, what skills will be required of a modern-era marketer?
One of the most critical skills of a marketer required in the current and future state of automation, is the ability to apply emotional intelligence to both strategy and tactics.
What is emotional intelligence? Psychology Today defines Emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage the emotions of others.
Engines, bots and platforms will gather data, analyze content and interpret results. A marketers use of emotional intelligence will motivate the person to take action.
It is the marketer’s responsibility to implement and execute upon what results from machine learning, robots, data and artificial intelligence. Marketers must articulate the next steps and these steps do require an application of emotional intelligence to produce the desired outcomes.
To start marketing with emotional intelligence, it is essential to keenly identify beyond the data-driven personas and profiles the emotions that motivate individuals to act. Emotional intelligence defines how a person sees things and what triggers the feelings they express for solving problems and seizing opportunities. Marketers have to relate to their target’s greatest emotional needs.
Marketers must be able to identify the emotions of the target audience beyond the AI, analytics and data, then execute strategies and tactics that apply this emotional intelligence to motivate their target to take action.
Emotional motivators can range from fear to joy, with all levels of extremes. Common emotions that marketers frequently use to get their targets to act, include:
1. Identify the Emotional Motivators for All Your Targets: Prospects, Customers, Partners, Employees, Stakeholders, Competitors. Utilize human interaction to identify the emotional triggers through such mechanisms as surveys, interviews, market research and face-to-face events.
2. Create Value Propositions for Each Emotional Motivator. Write each proposition by defining how the company, product or service addresses the emotional motivation to act. It must be a statement that articulates “why” someone would act and answer WIIFM (what’s in it for me).
3. Link the Emotionally-Driven Value Proposition to Desired Outcomes and Actions. Clearly outline the expected outcome and desired action that will result from the target through the adoption or application of what is being “sold,” whether it is an idea, product or service. This will be a basis for measuring success.
4. Test Your Value Propositions in a Series of Solution Statements for Different Mediums to Identify Bias. Never assume that you have nailed the value proposition until you have tested it on your target audience in each type of medium. Motivations can change across different content types, such as social versus white papers. Then sample test audience targets to help refine messages, evaluate emotional intelligence triggers and prove/disapprove the theories applied to expected outcomes and actions.
5. Apply the Value Propositions to Marketing Tactics. Once the value propositions are tested, create content and marketing campaigns. Utilize the proven value propositions, created with emotional intelligence motivators, as the foundation for all messaging.
6. Measure the Results. Evaluate the outcomes and action results monthly for the first six months of use, along with conducting ongoing testing for enhancements to the content and messaging for continuous improvements.
A marketer is the invaluable connector to a target audience that can answer to what success and failure feels like.
Take for example the topic of cyber security. The risks today to business and marketers are high. It is estimated that more than 75% of companies will be at risk in the next year. What does this mean? Every business must prepare to identify, prepare for and solve for the risks related to protecting intellectual property, customer or personnel data. What does success feel like when the cyber security solutions provider help a customer succeed at eliminating threats and risk to their business? What does failure feel like if the company does not prepare and solve for these threats and risks?
Those “feelings” are the emotional intelligence triggers that a great marketer in any industry will use when defining their brand, customer and user experiences to drive the best results.
No matter the machine learning or level of automation, marketers are essential to executing programs using tools and analysis that create an understanding of the target audience’s emotional needs. Marketers must identify motivation and interact in person to develop reliability and loyalty. It will always require a human touch with the right skills to understand, manage and motivate others to act.
Fear not my fellow marketers and business leaders, as machine learning, robots and AI are our friends and they need us. Our only real enemy is not marrying automation with emotional intelligence to seize upon the market opportunities created by all the data and analytics available to us today. It is the marketer’s skills that will manage, motivate and influence others to act.
Jamie Glass, President + CMO at Artful Thinkers, a sales and marketing consulting company.
What are the important considerations for defining an effective multilingual communications strategy?
1. Return on Content (ROC). First and foremost to every global communications strategy is how does it align to corporate business goals? Alignment to outcomes related to market reach, revenue and event profit margins should drive the top line global communication planning to effectively demonstrate meaningful ROI. We call this impact. Global communications is more than a marketing approach; it is a roadmap to achieving success in your organization.
2. Defining Your Target Audience. One content type does not fit all. Along with demographic definitions and assigned attributes, there are requirements to understand socio-graphic and behavioral traits. These can amount to hundreds and imagine defining these across multiple geographies. It requires time, market experience and research to match target to content. Culturally, there are differences in approach, positioning and key market messages that without proper definition can offend or create irreparable harm to your brand or organization.
3. Logistics and Statistics. Global communication strategy requires an understanding of how information is consumed by your target audience, where and through which medium. Mediums for delivery are not universal. We can all cite the growing number of mobile devices; however, there are places in the world where certain types of content are not effective for a mobile consumer. There may also be times where content will be primarily delivered via mobile, impacting a buying experience if the content is not easily consumed and understood. Common Sense Advisory* research indicated, “…billions of people don’t read English at all or well enough to make buying decisions, so they’re increasing information in other languages to reach many more prospects.” Data matters and the experience can impact your overall ROI simply by not following through the entire customer communication experience.
4. Language Trends. In the language services business, we encourage people every day to translate their content into every language. There may be exceptions. Certain languages may find a specific content media acceptable in the source language. This requires analysis, testing and research; however, what has highest value should always be considered when evaluating opportunities, budgets, timing and impact of language requirements. Equally important is the need to understand demand on a global scale of languages that have the greatest opportunity. What are the trends in emerging market?
5. Rate and Regularity. Understanding frequency and timing of your communications can also help dictate tactics for global reach. Language tools and automation can assist in getting translation done faster and more cost-effectively when the driver is close to real-time frequency. As an example, building machine translation programs, terminology technology and content source analysis can assist in meeting growing demands for fast translation user-generated content (UGC). Every communication type will have a demand requirement that can be matched to your supply for “global” reach. Public relations may have an immediate need; whereas, software updates may have a planned communications strategy over several months.
6. Your Brand. There are times when brand overrides all decisions related to speed and time-to-market. For example, transcreation of content may be less frequent and require a much higher devotion to ensuring there is absolute brand-alignment and adherence to your global brand standards.
Global communications strategy requires a customer-focused and data-driven methodology to maximize reach and impact with your audience, both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). Welocalize language services help global brands evaluate, plan and execute their strategic communication initiatives to produce the best ROC results.
What has the biggest impact on your global communications strategy?
*Report: Can’t Read, Won’t Buy by Common Sense Advisory
First published on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140507160656-149124-impacting-your-global-communications-strategy
Marketers today are faced with the increasing challenge to produce more and more online content. The volumes are staggering. We now refer to the amount of online content and words in terms like metadata, moving from terabytes to zettabytes and beyond!
Publishers like Buzzfeed, HuffingtonPost, Business Insider and even the New York Times are pushing out an estimated 350 new content pieces a day according to Digiday. Consumers of content have a continuous twitter feed of new content. UGC, social media, newsletters, blogs… it’s endless. How much is really out there? As of today, the size of the Internet is estimated to be at least 1.79 billion pages. (Source:http://www.worldwidewebsize.com/)
So where is the value? Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves as publishers, marketers and content producers, this question. Is there greater value in trying to win the daily news feed cycle by overwhelming the feeds with our words or should we take your best performing content we have already produced and make it available to a broader audience?
The volume and frequency strategy is supported by the eye-ball attraction game. It’s high risk, sort of a gamble. You hope you hit the mark; however, in the end you just keep pushing out more content to hedge your bet. Hitting it big is measured in minutes and hours. Instead, the expanding reach strategy is taking an investment into quality content and growing it exponentially. Doubling down. If your content is worthy and has universal appeal, perhaps the best best is localizing or translating that content to increase the value.
One informative whitepaper on business intelligence could prove to have 3x or 10x the value when translated into the equal number of languages. Granted, not all content has a global appeal. It requires a measured assessment to determine if extending your geographic reach could leverage your existing asset by simply taking your “words” and making them available to a broader market.
Frequency or expanding your reach – what’s your gamble?
This article was first published on LinkedIn. You can visit the article and subscribe to updates here: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140221011502-149124-increasing-your-content-value
Patience has a role in every aspect of business. Patience can be a virtue when leaders need time to evaluate and research the benefits and risks associated with critical business decisions. Patience can also be a vice when it hinders progress or is used by leaders to stall or delay difficult decisions.
In business, leaders gain respect when patience is used as a sensible guide. It can help define practical goals and set realistic expectations on performance. Patience is valuable in strategic planning, negotiations and critical thinking exercises that have significant impact on the future of a business. Patience also defines a business reality and sets a tone of perseverance.
Leaders can immediately lose respect if they show little or no patience. Rushing to judgement can sabotage activities or blur facts. Charging forward on key decisions regardless of the cost or potential dangers, can result in missed opportunities and less-than desirable outcomes. Leaders that employ too much patience may be deemed as lacking confidence in their own decisions or lacking confidence in others. It can spark insecurities and even instability in the business. No patience creates a perception of erratic and unstable leadership.
Patience needs balance. When patience is part of the decision-making process, be certain that there is substantiated purpose. For example, use patience in planning when you need to acquire experience, research facts, test an outcome or survey others for input. Patience used to delay a decision because of a lack of experience or knowledge can create a false roadblock. Set a timeline. Using patience to gather feedback is a good use of the virtue. Patience becomes a vice when it drives you to continually seek consensus on all decisions.
Patience as a virtue gives you capacity to endure waiting. Patience as a vice is not setting a deadline, allowing difficult decisions or unexpected outcomes to linger and potentially harm the business. Patience, used correctly, is part of your business ethics. It helps in governance.
Patience gives you the fortitude to make decisions. The right amount of patience enables leaders to use levelheadedness and detach from emotions in the decision and use logic and facts. Patience is a vice when it is used so frequently that it creates an emotional detachment to any decisions or prevents you from personally engaging or taking responsibility for your decisions and commitments.
Patience in business needs to be modulated. It is a guide, a compass. It is never absolute. There are times you have to make immediate decisions. There are many times you need to trust your gut, your instincts, you inner voice and just go. True leaders have the courage to accept associated risk with making a immediate decisions, as well as knowing when it is important to deploy patience at the right time to get the best results.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ― Aristotle
A common challenge for business owners and executives is to avoid “tripping over shiny pennies.” What does that mean? It is the attraction and distraction of the newest, latest, greatest shiny object in our path.
We all seem to have a trained eye to spot the bright copper commodity at our feet, no matter where we are headed. The shine is overwhelming. We stop. We pick it up. We put it in our pocket. Then we declare our latest “find” to be lucky. A sign of great fortunes to come.
Shiny pennies reflect a fiery glow that is hard to avoid. Old pennies lack the shine and sleekness that keep our attention. They seem drab. They are tried and have traveled far, gathering dirt and grime along the way. They often find homes in jars, drawers and bottles. New pennies have power. We have willed the new penny with charm, a source of inspiration, as we traverse along the pathway of possibilities.
The penny is representative of all the ideas and opportunities that land in front of us, one right after the other. Every time we stop to evaluate a new idea, we are taking our attention away from our current plan of action.
Navigating through the countless opportunities, or shiny pennies, requires determined focus and unbridled commitment to a planned strategy.
Unfortunately, in business the sparkling object we stop and pick up is often worth exactly the minted value – ONE CENT. Consuming ourselves by the possibilities of what the perceived lucky penny might bring can actually cost a business many pennies, if not fortunes.
New is not to be avoided. New keeps us innovating and testing. The overwhelming desire to continually focus on the new penny in our pocket, can be a big distraction from working on the current business plan. Shiny pennies have a time and place. Some will need proper evaluation and careful consideration. If you are feeling consumed by all the shiny pennies, set a time in your day or week to focus on these new ideas. Plan for “new” within your plan. Budget the costs associated to testing the new ideas.
Apply the “penny test” in our course of evaluation. What is the real cost associated to adding this penny to the jar of other shiny pennies? Will you spend more in product development, sales and marketing? How will it change your business model? Is there an impact in supply chain and distribution? How will customer’s respond? Every new penny that you stop to pick up needs thorough testing and vetting, with an effective cost-benefit analysis. The amount of work to evaluate the penny is expensive, so not every penny is worthy of much attention.
Be cautious of the allure of the sleek and sparkly new. After all, it is just one cent – shiny or not. If you are always tripping over pennies, you might just fail to see the dollars falling from the sky.
“If had a penny for every strange look I’ve gotten from strangers on the street I’d have about 10 to 15 dollars, which is a lot when you’re dealing with pennies.” – Andy Samberg
Jamie Glass, President and CMO at Artful Thinkers
What works in business is “doing”. Executing the plan requires effort. It is the muscle, the labor and the heavy lifting that gets the job done.
If you are wishing a prospect calls you to buy something, the wait is long. If you are wanting people to respond to your awesome tweet, the anticipation is agonizing. If you are hoping a great venture capitalist recognizes your incredible invention, your desires can go unfulfilled.
The message is not harsh or meant to burst your bubble. It is a direct call to action. Your wish, want and hope strategy needs reconsideration. It is not time to give up. It is time to change your strategy. Winners get rewarded for hard work. They do what others won’t do and that is how they win.
The sales person that makes the most calls, nurtures the most relationships and asks for the close multiple times, makes the sale. The marketing person that gets their message out through multiple channels using frequency and smart engagement tactics sees return on their marketing investment. Business leaders who knock on many doors to showcase their compelling business models that are producing multiple returns with predictable growth get the call backs from the investor community. Those that are putting their nose to the grindstone are realizing the rewards. The rewards of hard work.
Ambition needs to be equally measured by production. In a recent board meeting, the discussion soon centered on what we want to accomplish in the next five years. A boisterous board member remarked that the question was not relevant. The room became silent. Finally, someone asked him why would we not want to focus on our goals and define our strategy. He starkly replied, “You don’t have anyone to do the work.”
Every business needs leadership, directing activities and measuring accomplishments. Great leaders inspire others to believe they will be winners and thus hard work will pay off. The fact remains that without the “doers”, leaders are really a figure head. A strategy without anyone executing the tactics is a failed strategy. Labor is what drives businesses forward. Those that execute in the business are those that bring in the revenue, open new markets, and create innovative products.
The amount of time defining the mission, vision and strategy of your business needs to be matched exponentially by the hours of “doing”. Plans without the work tethered to tactics are simply great ideas. Goals are achieved through sweat. A vision is actualized through production.
Wishing, wanting and hoping are great for daydreaming. Put your dreams into action. The performance of you, your business and your teams are visible in hard evidence. Facts. Results. Failures. Accomplishments.
As you analyze the hours in your day spent on strategy and planning; multiple that amount of time by 10 and that is the minimum time you need to apply to working in your business. In other words, every hour of strategy and planning needs to be matched by 10 hours of laborious action. Match your planning time with a report card of hours worked on your to do list. The outcomes are a result of the effort. Measure your business success by the achievements, the outcomes, the results.
Wishing, wanting and hoping in business creates a crisis in confidence. Wishing is obscure. Wanting is desirous. Hoping is improbable. Doing is concrete. Working is absolute. A commitment in confidence is defined by action. Execution moves a business forward. Nike reminds us all the time to “Just Do It”. The simple motto is one that all businesses and leaders need to follow. Do it. Get it done. Then start again and just keep doing!
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” – Thomas A. Edison
As a business leader, you have three options of where to put your focus. The Past. The Future. The Now. Being present in your business now, gives you better leverage to improve from your past with the valuable foresight to manage risks and opportunities in your future.
21st century businesses require real time accessibility and responsiveness to meet the changing tides of immediate customer demands. Innovation is quickly driving businesses forward and leaving many behind. Being disciplined on the point of convergence of past and future, enables you to put 100% of your business efforts into the business now.
It is important to know who you are, where you are coming from and where you are going. The past provides insights that can help your business pivot and shorten learning curves. As a leader, you depend on the knowledge gained through good and bad experiences to improve performance and business outcomes. There is only one path to progress. You have to move from the past to the future through your business now.
Living in your business past, with regret or admiration, does not give you the necessary focus to be centered in the now. “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” ~Alexander Graham Bell
Leaders that spend time relishing in their great accomplishments may be ignoring the unknown threats or countless competitors looking for better, faster ways to knock you off your pedestal. Put the plaque on the wall, file the kudos and at-a-boys and know that your business needs you to be working on what’s next – now.
Likewise, if you are spending your business now redefining vision statements, missions and the company’s next BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), you may be missing the bumps and obstacles that threaten you from achieving important milestones in your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly journey. Your revenues depend on you to zero in on the now.
One way to keep you in the now is to have a mission statement that puts you squarely in the present moment. Starbucks puts its’ employee, partner and customer focus in their business now with their simple mission statement. It says, ”Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
There is no arguing that you need business goals, strategies and plans. The only way to work in the business now is to know where you are headed. Every business needs short and long term goals. There is a big difference in working in the future or working on the future — now. You can be working on inventions that will change the world. If you focus on how the world will be versus your invention, you will lose your edge in getting the invention to market. A daydreamer trap for the creative mind.
Have you ever met an entrepreneur that has hundreds of ideas. When you talk to them, they focus on all the ways they can improve on an idea, open new markets and make millions and billions — in the future. They have 20 solutions for every problem. Yet, there is always one thing that is missing in their enthusiasm for what’s ahead, their business now.
How is your business today? What is holding you back this week? What challenges are stopping you from being that billionaire NOW? When you are steadfast on living in future, you are probably not paying attention to the work required to get you there. If your employees always see you so far ahead of them, they often lack accountability to what they need to do to make the business a success today.
There is a fragile difference between a vision and an illusion. Apple is a perfect example of a company dedicated to the business now. We often look at each new product as ahead of it’s time. Some will remark, how visionary! Apple looks at their new products as another completed project. The next Apple inventions we will be enamored with are already in production. Apple is constantly improving products ahead of their time by working in the business now. They do so with an eye to the future, short term and long term goals; however, they produce and service in the now. Innovation is part of their work culture. We, their consumer, are focused on their future. That does not deter them from meeting our demands now, it only keeps us loyal.
Use your past to better predict your future. It is good business intelligence. Being present for your customers, employees, partners today is what has the greatest impact on revenues now. Investing in your future, is working on your business now! Don’t ignore what’s right in front of you. What you uncover by working on the business now could define you and your company evermore.
“Forever is composed of nows.” ~Emily Dickinson
Entrepreneurs can spend countless hours crafting their vision and mission statements. It is often assigned to every leader as a required task in strategic planning. Business investors and advisors will ask you, what is your vision? Imagine answering, “I don’t know!”
Do you have a vision? A mission? Business values? Often guilt rises in those that have not defined their vision when questioned by those that “know”. Thus the ritual begins. The business owner starts to define the grand vision: What do I want to be? What is our ideal universe? What is our big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) as a company? What motivates us?
Tah-Dah! The task is complete. Yes, you have a company vision. Check the box. Your purpose for existence as a business, which is now articulated in a small paragraph, makes it’s debut on websites, in business plans and sales presentations and supported in company marketing communications. What is the value of this exercise? Can you translate it to revenue? There are businesses that have you memorize the vision. Vision testing. They are driven by the belief that if everyone is united by a common vision, they will achieve more.
Granted, there is no argument that you need a strategy to win. If your vision consists of words to satisfy the strategic planning process, your vision is worthless. A vision must be supported by disciplined focus to accomplish your business goals. It is what differentiates the good from great. Why? It is the ability to look beyond the visionary clouds and execute on your strategy. Disciplined focus delivers results.
Vision is unlimited. Vision gives you big picture, inspiration and motivation. Focus influences your capability to execute on what is most important. Real power to deliver on a vision comes when you narrow your focus, allowing you to concentrate and build confidence. Disciplined focus enables you to positively face challenges and create sustainability in your business. It is the foundation for growth. “My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things.” — Bill Gates
Have you ever watched a 3 year-old in a grocery store walking along side their adult companion. They seem to lack much interest in the whole shopping experience. Suddenly, they set their sights on what is intentionally positioned at their eye-level to grab their attention. They make their escape with remarkable strength. Bolting in a straight beeline, with determination, to the prize! They have disciplined focus on the outcome. They grab and go! Vision. Focus. Results.
If you have a vision or are thinking you need to craft a vision statement, take a few minutes to define the expected outcomes from your declaration. How does the vision help you focus on what is most important for your business? How do you use your vision as motivation? How will the vision help employees be better in their roles? How will the vision drive the business forward? Once you know the desired results, you can apply the disciplined focus to execute your strategy and accomplish your business goals.
“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.” — Brian Tracy
Key influencers play a critical role in every business. Decision makers are guarded and guided by inside and outside advisors and gatekeepers. How you manage your trusted advisors can help or harm your business.
Influencers know they have the power to change or compel action. It is the business leaders responsibility to validate and control the effect of influencers. Those who sit closest to authority and are granted permission to persuade, have a direct impact on your success. Do you know who is currently sitting at your table of influence?
In order to responsibly manage your influencers, take time to identify those that are in your inner circle and those effecting your judgement. Inside your business look at department heads, executives and even top revenue generators whose opinions impact your future. Who are your squeaky wheels? Are they helping you make better decisions for your business or slowing down how you operate? Influencers can be carriers of good and bad advice, they may be motivated by selfishness. It is up to you to vet, challenge and manage your influencers for optimal results.
One way of evaluating an influencer is to ask them what they believe are your highest priorities. Are they up-to-date on your current business plans and growth strategies? Do they know the profile of your most profitable customers? If not, it is the perfect opportunity to align your thinking. Define and clarify what is most important to you and your business. Let them know how they can help you.
To get the best results from your influencers, provide regular updates on business goals, initiatives, challenges and opportunities. Acting as gatekeepers, key influencers can open doors to new ideas, solution providers and even make introductions to customers. They also have the ability to close doors. As the final decision maker, you are ultimately responsible for those that make it through the “gate”. Challenge those that have the authority inside your business to say no. Know who they turned away and why.
Update your outside advisors quarterly about key initiatives and strategic objectives. These influencers, such as accountants, legal counsel, wealth managers, business consultants and top vendors are connected and often sources for essential referrals. They act as a conduit for information and potential services that can help you achieve your goals. If your influencers know your interests, they can better serve you.
Know that influencers get things done. They effect change. They make things happen. You need to know who they are and leverage them for maximum impact to your business. Lead influencers to your expected outcomes. Manage them for the best results.
There is a constant drum beat in business circles that summers are difficult for getting anything done. There are a variety of excuses that justify this belief, including, “everyone is on vacation“, “people don’t work when kids are out of school“, “buyers are not engaged“, and of course “decision makers are unreachable“.
The hard reality is these excuses are self-fulling prophecies. We are more wired, more connected, more engaged today. Business is not done during the hottest months of the year because we assume we will get a no before we ask for the yes.
The facts prove people are working all summer. Monthly average work week data shows that we work the same amount in the summer as we do all year round. Decision makers average 49 hours per week. We are more productive than ever. So, why are you not capitalizing on the hottest months of the year?
The Dog Days of Summer are the best time of the year to build up prospects, qualify leads, refresh your marketing strategies and compete for mind share. While everyone else falls into the excuse trap, you have an opportunity to make noise and get noticed.
Laying back until September to heat it up your marketing and selling efforts only pushes you into the most distracting time of the year. Right after Labor Day, decision makers are budgeting for 2013 and events are abundant. Daily sales calls peak and we are all flooded with competitors emails and advertisements trying to capture top of mind awareness. Simply, your odds are much better to get noticed during the summer months.
Here are some suggestions on how to capitalize on the final dog days of summer:
1. Reach out to current customers. Estimates are that it is 7x less expensive to get business from a current customer than a new customer. Update your current customers on your latest business activities and see if they are ready to buy more.
2. Prospect for opportunities. Run reports from your contact database to see who has not been reached in the past six months. Put them on your priority contact list and create a campaign to heat up some buying interest. Activity creates action.
3. Build sales plans for key accounts. Spend time to craft detailed sales plans for your top prospects. Identify decision makers, buying cycles, budgets and key influencers at your top target companies. Read up on their latest news and research their business to identify critical needs. Use your sales plan to carefully craft the value proposition for doing business with you and then set the appointment to make the pitch.
4. Promote, promote, promote. As others hold back until after Labor Day, you have the opportunity to use public relations and social media campaigns to gain attention. Take advantage of the slower news cycles and go for the headline. Do whatever you can to get the attention of those seeking your products and services.
5. Summer close out sales. There is a very strategic reason why Christmas in July sales dominate the dog days of summers. Retail outlets and online storefronts are looking to clear out inventories. The other reason is June, July and August sales are the time people will typically start shopping for school and holidays. Consumers expect a deal.
6. Refresh your sales and marketing strategies. Review your strategic plans. What has worked, what is not working and what market opportunities exist for the business in the next 18 months. Tactics follow strategy. If you are only doing the work and not evaluating the impact on your strategy, you could be heading in the wrong direction.
7. Pivot now. Review your key performance indicators and adjust if you are are going to miss your mark. Making a change now can benefit you in the last quarter of the year. Don’t wait, start executing your changes and new strategies to achieve your business goals this year.
It is time to heat it up! You have fewer people competing for attention and business right now. Take advantage of it. People receive fewer emails, fewer calls, so use this as an opportunity to make a direct connection today and set the wheels in motion to capitalize this year.
There will be a total of 302 gold medals awarded at The Games of the XXX Olympiad. There are more than 10,500 athletes competing from 200 nations and territories. Every four years we create an engaged global audience that together watches, cheers and celebrates the world’s best compete for gold. Humans love competition.
The definition of compete is to strive consciously or unconsciously for an objective as in position, profit, or a prize (Merriam-Webster). When we join forces to compete, we become one. Competitors seeking a prize. Competing to win. That makes us all winners.
We look beyond borders and differences and we unify to revel in athleticism. We encourage those competing to push harder, overcome challenges and fight to cross the finish line first. We celebrate individuals, teams, countries and the world.
Some say showing up is success. It takes more than showing up. It takes competition to engage us. Why? Competition motivates, inspires and rewards. It drives us. It excites us. It makes our heart beat accelerate. It is an experience. Flags wave faster, people stand taller, crowds cheer louder and we watch more intensely when the competition heats up. Good competitions get everyone involved in celebrating success. Showing up is just doing a job. Competing is striving to win! We want to be with the winners.
Have you created a competitive culture in your business? Does everyone on your team compete to win? Whether we are awarded gold medals, business awards, new contracts, customers or simply a thank you, the best motivator to drive us is competition. To win in business, you need to compete. When you compete internally and externally, you will be rewarded. You will win.
There are many ways to compete in business. You can easily set up internal competitions to meet deadlines, achieve sales numbers, launch products faster, reach new levels of customer satisfaction, increase profits, grow your customer base, or decrease errors. There are great financial gains awaiting through external competitions. Winning new business contracts, opening new markets, reaching higher industry standards, increasing shareholder value, gaining on the competition for market share, all will reward your business and will help drive your team to strive for more.
The worst statement made to an investor is “We have no competition.” Beyond the absurdity and audacity, is the fear that if you have no competition, you won’t be motivated to win. Investors love to put money in businesses that are competing in a race to the finish line. In the eyes of an investor, the finish line may be an exit with a 5 or 6 multiple return on investment. What is your finish line? You always have competition, inside and outside of your business. You always compete. We invest in those competing to win.
If 200 nations understand the value of competing to win the gold, what is stopping you from doing this in your business? Competing is winning. Cultures that compete, win. Create a culture that embraces winning. Teams win when they know the goals and they have leaders that encourage them to complete. They will compete when they are rewarded for winning.
The Olympic spirit is not a myth. It is a reality. It inspires us. It is a feeling that touches us deep in our gut and makes us feel emotional about trying hard to achieve something far beyond the reach of most of us. This same spirit has the power to unite millions from around the world to participate by simply watching others go for gold. When they win, we win. Every gold, silver and bronze medal for Team USA, feels like all Americans win! Every country feels the same about their exceptional team of athletes. That would make us all winners. Worldwide winners!
Most people want to be a part of a culture that celebrates winning and achievement. When is the last time your brought your team together to motivate them to compete. Provided an opportunity to win. When did you last recognize others and reward individuals, teams and the entire business for winning?
Now is the perfect time for you to inject more competition into your business, into your culture. You can blame it on the Olympic spirit!
Countless CEO’s and leaders surround themselves with trusted advisers for counsel on a variety of business topics. Plunkett Research estimates $366 billion will have been spent in 2011 on global consulting, including HR, IT, strategy, operations management and business advisory services.
These billions are spent to generate new ideas, validate existing plans and provide strategic vision on solving problems and growing markets. Most consultants dream of the engagement that is purely focused on strategy, 100% of the time creatively brainstorming on ways to be more, do more and get more.
Whiteboards filled with plans of grandeur, detailed reports, heart-thumping counseling sessions with these hired experts are alluring, especially to an entrepreneur hungry to take their business to the next level. More revenue! Less costs! Decreases in human capital! Increases in productivity!
We have all seen the movie, hand-in-hand the strategist and business leader announce they have a better way. Bring in the team! With the plan baked, the leader announces to his company, “I have a new idea and you will be responsible for the outcomes.” The room is silent.
Why? A plan with little or no buy-in from the team sets off alarms. The people who do the work know that every time they have to implement something new there are great costs. Time. People. More time. Did anyone ask for input from the doers? Who is going to execute this new plan? Who is going to be accountable? It is probably not the consultant.
The first step to being a great strategic consultant is to build consensus within an organization. Identify the problem, interview, validate, analyze and then present recommendations. Buy-in is critical to achieve the best results. The most important person in every business is the person that actually does the work. It is easier to get those that don’t do the work to agree with your plan. What about the people who have to actually implement the program or new revolutionary way of doing business? Consideration and respect for the doer’s role is essential.
When entrepreneurs take on counsel for one or more advisers, the amount of work that can be created for an organization and the doers can be overwhelming. In fact, it can result in chaos, lost productivity, decreases in morale and lack of confidence in leadership. You see, talk is not cheap. Whiteboard ideas that go from chatter to “let’s do this” have a big cost to an organization.
Every time a consultant sells you on an idea, take the estimated “savings” and reduce by 75% and the estimated “costs” and double it. It is not the intent of a strategic adviser to mislead his or her client, it is simply a factor of unknowns and assumptions made in the planning.
Leaders need to be able to evaluate every idea, every strategy and every problem solving plan that comes from outside consultants with great care and consideration to those that do the work. Create consensus. Ask the team to identify the risks and potential rewards. Understand buy-in takes time and capital.
Business strategy consultants may be a very wise investment to spark innovation, challenge a new idea or share experiences to avoid pitfalls. Define accountability in execution. Too much time on strategy can actually be detrimental to any business. It is tactics that move the needle. Tactics are completed by doers. The “labor pool” gets the job done.
So, the next time a consultant sells you a “great idea”, remember talk is NOT cheap. Be cautious, measure your tactics and define your outcomes. Get buy in from your team before you “buy the plan” and know your costs, which are always far more than the just the consultant’s fee.