<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Blog Business World

Blogs in business, marketing, public relations, and SEO search engine optimization for successful entrepreneurs

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

 

James Mathewson: Audience, Relevance, and Search - Blog Business Success Radio

Listen to Wayne Hurlbert on Blog Talk Radio



New media analyst and Editor-in-chief of ibm.com, and co-author of the practical and results oriented book Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content, James Mathewson shares his insights into writing engaging web copy that achieves top search results. James describes how to use long tail phrases and keywords that are searched by real people. Learn how to get to the point faster in your copywriting, and how to create relevant content for diverse audiences. James also demonstrates how create copy that engages while achieving strong sales results. Learn as well how to use social media effectively to share your content.

James Mathewson is my internet radio show guest on Blog Business Success; hosted live on BlogTalkRadio.

The show airs live on Tuesday, August 31, at 8:00 pm Eastern Time; 5:00 pm Pacific Time.

New media analyst and Editor-in-chief of ibm.com, and co-author of the practical and results oriented book Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content, James Mathewson shares his insights into writing engaging web copy that achieves top search results. You will learn:

* Why copywriting on the web is different from writing print copy

* How to find your target audience and provide relevant content

* How to optimize a site to achieve high search engine rankings

* How to use social media to strengthen online web relevance



James Mathewson (photo left) has followed the Web since 1994, first as a contributing editor specializing in Web publishing and search for ComputerUser magazine, and later as the editor in chief of the magazine and its Web site. Since leaving ComputerUser in 2004, James has worked for IBM as a Web developer and Web content editor.

In his current role as editor-in-chief of ibm.com, James sets standards, and creates and delivers education to improve the effectiveness of IBM's Web content. James has trained more than 1000 writers, editors, and content strategists on Web content quality and search engine optimization (SEO) within IBM.

My book review of Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content by James Mathewson, Frank Donatone, Cynthia Fishel.

Listen live on Tuesday at 8:00 pm Eastern, 5:00 pm Pacific time.

BlogTalkRadio.com

If you miss this very informative show, it will be available for free download as a podcast for iPod, iTunes, and MP3 players; or play it right on your computer. To download this, or any other of my guest interviews, go to the Blog Business Success host page and click on Archived Segments. Once there, click on the podcast icon at the end of the episode description, to download the show free of charge for your listening enjoyment. You can also subscribe to the show feed.

Add to iTunes

To call in questions for my guest, the number is: (347) 996-5832

Let's talk with new media analyst and Editor-in-chief of ibm.com, and co-author of the practical and results oriented book Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content, James Mathewson as he shares his insights into writing engaging web copy that achieves top search results. James describes how to use long tail phrases and keywords that are searched by real people. Learn how to get to the point faster in your copywriting, and how to create relevant content for diverse audiences. James also demonstrates how create copy that engages while achieving strong sales results. Learn as well how to use social media effectively to share your content on Blog Business Success Radio.

Tags: , , , , .

Labels: ,


Social bookmark this
 

Audience, Relevance, and Search by James Mathewson, Frank Donatone & Cynthia Fishel - Book review


Audience, Relevance, and Search

Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content


By: James Mathewson, Frank Donatone, Cynthia Fishel

Published: April 26, 2010
Format: Paperback, 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0-13-700420-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-13-700420-1
Publisher: IBM Press





"Writing for the web is fundamentally different than writing for other media, such as print". write internet writing and marketing experts James Mathewson, Frank Donatone, and Cynthia Fishel in their practical and results oriented book Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content. The authors describe how online audiences approach and read content differently online than they do with print media. The book guides the reader through the process of writing effectively online, even if a person is an accomplished writer for offline media.



James Mathewson (photo left), Frank Donatone, and Cynthia Fishel recognize that good writing habits are universal to both the online and offline media. What the authors focus on is how an online media content is different from print media. Instead of delving into the area of what to write, and the nuts and bolts of quality writing, the book emphasizes the differences in how writers engage readers online from their experience with print media. To develop their ideas about online writing differences, the authors begin with an analysis of the basics of print media writing and engagement. They describe the evolution of copywriting as content has moved from print to the online media. The book highlights how writing and reader engagement has changed in parallel to the online migration of content.



Frank Donatone (photo left), Cynthia Fishel, and James Mathewson understand the importance of knowing and defining the target readership. Taking the time to find the relevant keyword phrases, and including them in the website copy, establishes relevance for the site readership. At the same time, knowing the keyword phrases that the site visitors are searching leads to stronger relevance for the search engines. Higher search engine rankings, for relevant long tail phrases, leads to more visitors actively seeking that online content. The authors provide a solid basic framework for enhancing the search engine optimization for the website, including on page copy and website architecture. The authors, through their understanding of online relevance, demonstrate clearly how to differentiate online web content from that of offline print media.



Cynthia Fishel (photo left), James Mathewson, and Frank Donatone present an important and very timely section on social media for building online relevance. This recognition of the growing reliance on social media for online users enhances the power of the book. The authors add value to the book's power in several other way as well. One is their emphasis on writing with the different needs and reading styles of online visitors from those who read print content. Another strength of the book is the research backing for the ideas put forward in the book. Instead of relying on anecdote, the authors support their thesis with real world research studies. A further strong point of the book is the chapter on measuring and quantifying the online content effectiveness to reinforce relevant aspects of the site, and to improve the less engaging areas. A final power of the book is the heavy use of graphics and screenshots to illustrate the points, especially for the more complex concepts.

I highly recommend the must read online content writing guidebook Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content by James Mathewson, Frank Donatone, and Cynthia Fishel, to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the real but often overlooked differences between writing effectively online and for print media. The authors share their ideas for creating more relevant content for both the readers and for the search engines, through establishing relevance and deep online relationships.

Read the systematic and well presented book Audience, Relevance, and Search: Targeting Web Audiences with Relevant Content by James Mathewson, Frank Donatone, and Cynthia Fishel, and transform your mediocre online copy to engaging and relevant content. Your readers will thank you, and your online presence will set you apart from your competition.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Monday, August 30, 2010

 

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh - Book review



Delivering Happiness

A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose


By: Tony Hsieh

Published: June 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
ISBN: 9780446563048
Publisher: Business Plus








"At Zappos, we had collectively come up with our own set of ten core values. Those values bonded us together, and were an important part of the path that led us to this moment", writes entrepreneur and Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, in his revolutionary and business transforming book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. The author takes the reader on a journey through the success story of Zappos, from its inception to billion dollar sale to Amazon.com. Along the way, Tony Hsieh shares the company's core values of all encompassing customer service, a great company culture, and a commitment to excellence for the company employees.

Tony Hsieh delivers the important and powerful message that creating happy employees, customers, suppliers, and business associates is not only the right thing to do, but that it's also good business. In a world where business people from entrepreneurs to CEOs are told that taking a hard line on employees, cutting back on customer service, and squeezing suppliers is seen as the correct approach to business, Tony Hsieh shows a better way. Not only does the author share his vision of passion and purpose as the road to profit, but that living a balanced life is also compatible with operating a successful and growing company. The book presents this world changing business blueprint, and how it worked so well for everyone employed by Zappos, all of their customers and suppliers, and anyone who came into even peripheral contact with the company.



Tony Hsieh (photo left) is a pioneer in the effective use of social media, including the now ubiquitous Twitter and Facebook. More importantly, as CEO, he empowered his employees to use Twitter to form deeper relationships with customers, and to respond to questions about the company and its products. The company culture was built on trust between employees and management, and between customers and the company. This passion for engagement both within and outside the organization created happier employees who spread their upbeat mood to their satisfied customers. The company developed a list of core values that were not simply to serve as a guideline for operation, but as a credo to live by. The organization's values manifesto is a proven model for other businesses to infuse into their company culture. While the core values of each organization may be different, the value that they provide for empowerment, engagement, and integrity is unlimited.

For me, the power of the book is how Tony Hsieh demonstrates clearly the potential of shared passion and purpose for building an ethical and sustainable business, while at the same time increasing growth and profits. Through the Zappos experience, it's certain that a company that outlines its core values, and lives them every day as integral to the company culture, will be a competitive powerhouse. The book contains numerous testimonials, from the Zappos employees themselves, sharing their own engagement and enthusiasm for the values of the company. At the same time, the book contains some very practical and easy to apply business concepts that can be universally adopted by any business leader. Tony Hsieh even challenges his readers to join his business revolution, toward building a new type of company that empowers and engages both employees and customers, creating an entirely new business paradigm.

I highly recommend the inspirational and thought provoking book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, that challenges previous ideas about how a company should operate. The book presents a fresh vision, where trust, happiness, and a balanced life form the basis of a truly successful and profitable company.

Read the destined to be classic book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh, and put the power of core values to work for your organization. While delivering happiness, your company will also be enhancing peoples' lives while building ever larger profits and share of the marketplace.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Sunday, August 29, 2010

 

Nancy Lublin: Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business - Author interview



CEO and "Chief Old Person" of DoSomething.org, and experienced non-profit organization leader Nancy Lublin, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about her very timely and practical book Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business.

Nancy Lublin turns the previously accepted idea that the corporate for profit model was the ideal to emulate for every organization, including not-for-profits. Instead, it's time for businesses to learn a few proven concepts and techniques from the non-profit sector.

Thanks to Nancy Lublin for her time, and for her very thoughtful and informative responses. They are greatly appreciated.

What was the background to writing this book Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business?

Nancy Lublin: I was sitting in a conference room of a ginormous Fortune 100 company, listening to them complain about their "slashed" marketing budget. They were used to having lots of money, lots of time, lots of hands on deck--and they were now going to have to learn how to do more, with less. Not-for-profits have always had to stretch a dollar, stretch people, stretch time. So I decided to compile these best practices in a (sassy) business book.

What lessons do non-profit organizations, accustomed to operating on tight budgets, have for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and established companies?

Nancy Lublin: It’s a counter-intuitive argument--business advice form not-for-profits--but we're actually quite good at brand management, recruitment & retention, and even fiscal integrity.



Nancy Lublin (photo left)

Non-profit organizations are experienced in attracting volunteers. Are there lessons to share with for-profit companies on retaining employees without paying more money?

Nancy Lublin: People rarely stay or leave jobs just for the money--and even if they do, they don't perform well or contribute to a happy workplace. You want people who love your workplace. This starts in the recruiting process--is "passion" a key criteria for employment? It should be! Then you need to make the job itself fulfilling. Are you giving your people enough responsibility that they feel a sense of importance? Do they know how they fit into the larger goal(s) of the company? Are your company goals measurable and clear? Do your employees have job titles they are proud of? Notice that none of these questions or suggestions were about being cause-y. Purpose in the workplace is different from "cause."

Non-profits are experienced in bartering services for other goods and services. Can companies learn to barter to better leverage their own resources?

Nancy Lublin: Absolutely. Do you have extra space or extra product or employees with expertise that other needs? Think about trading with a neighbor, a vendor, etc.

Is it possible to use the non-profit model to create new products and services, and to strengthen brands, without expensive market research?

Nancy Lublin: Your best market research isn't a fancy study from McKinsey, it’s the juicy stuff living in your employees heads. Think about internal crowd-sourcing for innovation. For example, looking for a tagline for a new product? Considering asking your employees for suggestions. They know the product. They know your target market. They live this stuff every day! Asking them will make them feel respected--plus, it’s fun to think about things outside the scope of your job, helping your colleagues.

Can marketing be done at little or no cost effectively and is there a role for social media in the Zilch model?

Nancy Lublin: Social media presents really interesting opportunities for companies to leverage the power of zero. How many employees do you have? And how many Facebook friends do they have, combined? What if your employees leveraged their status updates to help launch a new product? It can be that simple.

Are there real world examples of companies who are adopting the techniques of non-profits to their own businesses?

Nancy Lublin: Well, Pfizer just bought 360 copies of Zilch. Citigroup just took 150 copies and had me speak there. I think the new economic realities are forcing companies to think about doing more with less.

How can an entrepreneur learn how to apply non-profit guerrilla tactics to their companies?

Nancy Lublin: Volunteer for a not for profit. Get on the board of a not-for-profit. Go work for a not-for-profit.

What is next for Nancy Lublin?

Nancy Lublin: Lunch.

*******************

My book review of Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this
 

Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin - Book review





Zilch

The Power of Zero in Business


By: Nancy Lublin

Published: June 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781591843146
Publisher: Penguin/Portfolio












"Simply put, really great not-for-profits are brilliant at doing more with less. We understand the power of zero", writes CEO and "Chief Old Person" of DoSomething.org Nancy Lublin in her very timely and practical book Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business. The author turns the previously accepted idea that the corporate for profit model was the ideal to emulate for every organization, including not-for-profits. Instead, it's time for businesses to learn a few proven concepts and techniques from the non-profit sector.

Nancy Lublin brings her years of experience in the not-for-profit world to the business community. In today's troubled economy, finances for all sizes of companies - from entrepreneurial ventures to major corporations - are very tight and spending budgets are shrinking. For many business leaders, executives, and managers, this is an unusual situation where they lack experience for making do with less. For Nancy Lublin, the idea of strict and very limited budgets is nothing new. For executives in the non-profit community, achieving tremendous results with small amounts of money has long been standard operating procedure. With companies of all sizes downsizing their staff numbers, their spending budgets cut back severely or eliminated altogether, and still facing the same expected targets, many business leaders are left shaking their heads and short of ideas. Nancy Lublin provides a powerful, effective, and proven alternative drawn from the non-profit ethos, about how to do more with less.



Nancy Lublin (photo left) recognizes that not all non-profit organizations are perfect, and that not all for profit companies lack the ability to adapt to tough economic times and the ensuing slashed budgets. Instead, the author points out the experience of well managed not-for-profits is exactly the type of skill that business leaders need in today's economy. While many corporate managers may lack the understanding of how to accomplish their goals without large budgets, executives from the non-profit sector have faced and met that money shortage challenge for decades. Nancy Lublin shares time proven techniques for recruiting and retaining skilled employees without resorting to ever higher salaries and bonuses, based on the non-profit experience with volunteers and their own organizational staff. The author also describes how to market on little or no money, how to create a memorable brand on a shoestring, and how leverage external connections to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

For me, the power of the book is how Nancy Lublin makes a convincing case, that the experience and skills demonstrated by leaders in non-profit organizations, is precisely the knowledge needed in for profit companies. To bolster her case, the author points to case studies of real world non-profit executives who have succeeded using their ability to operate on very small budgets. As a successful not-for-profit leader herself, Nancy Lublin not only shares her own impressive experience, but provides a new way of thinking and problem solving rarely seen in the boardrooms of major corporations.

Because of the recession, the old ways of doing business by throwing money at the problem, are no longer effective. In fact, with drastic reductions in budgets, the spending option is no longer available. This book teaches business leaders a new way of seeing challenges and overcoming financial obstacles. Instead of simply looking for more money, the author presents the different concept of seeking solutions that are very low cost or even free. This book turns traditional management techniques and thinking upside down.

I highly recommend the revolutionary and mind opening book Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin, to anyone in any size of company seeking a way out of the current budgetary binds placed on organizations. As the author points out, most businesses are looking at things from one to ten, while non-profits strive to go that extra mile to eleven. This book takes any company beyond ten and into eleven, with that many ideas and more, upon which to build a stronger, and more efficient organization.

Read the important and essential book Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin, and put the power of thinking like a not-for-profit leader to work in your company. Your profits may be higher and your brand better known than ever before, while spending zero money to do it.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Saturday, August 28, 2010

 

Superconnect by Richard Koch & Greg Lockwood - Book review




Superconnect

Harnessing the Power of Networks and the Strength of Weak Links


By: Richard Koch, Greg Lockwood

Published: August 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7710-9592-4
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart










"If you ever look back at a turning-point, you'll uncover a chain of human contacts - as we did - who played a crucial role in what happened to you", write entrepreneurs Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood in their brilliant and insightful book Superconnect: Harnessing the Power of Networks and the Strength of Weak Links. The authors describe how these often very casual contacts operate, and how to utilize their connecting power to enhance your own life and success.



Richard Koch (photo left) and Greg Lockwood point out the importance of the interpersonal links that now connect literally everyone on the planet. The authors consider the well known axiom, that everyone is six degrees of separation from everyone else in the world, and discover that on average that the concept holds true. What is most important in this small world idea is that very fleeting and remote links between people are usually the forces for the greatest impact on people's lives. The authors describe three main types of interpersonal links. The first is the strong link of close friends and family. The second is the weak links of acquaintances and friends of friends. The third type of link is the hub where many different and disparate contacts meet and connect in new and exciting ways. The person who can integrate all aspects of the link types, and utilize them in countless ways with others, becomes a superconnector.



Greg Lockwood (photo left) and Richard Koch uncover many unexpected and counter-intuitive aspects to links. To their surprise, the least useful links for getting jobs or building a new business venture were the strongest links. In fact, the close relationship with family and friends very often worked against the person, making a new job or business a much less likely outcome. The best links, as it turns out, are those fleeting weak links of acquaintances, people not seen in years or even decades, and chance encounters that have a wonderful tinge of serendipity. The hubs where widely separated, casual acquaintances meet and discuss topics of interest, can occur spontaneously both on the internet and in the offline world. People who are superconnectors are able to introduce people to one another for their mutual interest and benefit. For business people, the more weak links added, the greater the chances of business success.

For me, the power of the book is how Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood guide the reader through the fascinating world of weak and strong links, with clarity and purpose. The authors share their experiences with making connections through weak links in their own business careers. They also describe how connectors and superconnectors may be the the least likely people. The authors emphasize the critical importance of making casual acquaintances at all times, and with everyone possible. No one can predict which weak link can be the one that makes a successful connection. For business people, the power of networks is obvious, but seldom understood. The authors present a strong theoretical and practical framework for building career and business success through weak links. The authors found success in their own business lives through creating companies that operated based on links and connections, and make the case that such businesses are the most profitable and become dominant in their respective niches.

I highly recommend the intriguing and groundbreaking book Superconnect: Harnessing the Power of Networks and the Strength of Weak Links by Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood, to anyone seeking a deeper and more clear understanding of the power and vast potential of interpersonal networks. Going far beyond the basics of networks, the authors share a vision of how casual connections can be actual life changing events for people. One meeting can indeed change a person's entire future.

Read the the fascinating book Superconnect: Harnessing the Power of Networks and the Strength of Weak Links by Greg Lockwood and Richard Koch, and put the power of weak links to work in building your own career or company. The book demonstrates with clarity, how the seemingly most tenuous of links and casual connections, are the basis for successful career change and entrepreneurial growth.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Friday, August 27, 2010

 

Sharon Armstrong: The Essential Performance Review Handbook - Author interview



Entrepreneur, employee training and performance consultant, and human resources expert Sharon Armstrong was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about her valuable and thought provoking book The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional.

Sharon Armstrong tackles the often misunderstood subject of employee performance reviews with a team based approach that transforms the process into a powerful management tool.

Thanks to Sharon Armstrong for her time, and for her comprehensive and informative responses to the questions. They are greatly appreciated.

What was the background to writing this book The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional?

Sharon Armstrong: As a former HR director at a law firm and three associations, my responsibilities always included oversight of the performance management systems. I saw from firsthand experience that performance appraisals can be one of the most anxiety-provoking aspects of work life – for both supervisors and employees. My plan was for this book to help cut through the anxiety and make the process more productive and less unpleasant.

Why are performance appraisals so painful for everyone involved?

Sharon Armstrong: I think some managers don’t have ongoing workplace conversations throughout the cycle and therefore haven’t made notes of performance. The performance appraisal should be the culmination of all those discussions. Often employees are surprised at what they hear and feel duped that they weren’t given sufficient time to turn a behavior around. Those bad experiences for employees make them reluctant to have the next performance review. And managers don’t feel prepared or comfortable having the meetings.

What is wrong with the usual approach to performance appraisals?

Sharon Armstrong: The usual approach to performance appraisals is a quick one-way discussion and hand-off of a completed form. That approach can’t continue if you want performance discussions to be constructive, strengthen the organization and add value.

A better approach is to involve the employee as an active participant in the meeting and use the time for joint problem-solving and goal setting. And absolutely spend time recognizing the employee for his/her efforts throughout the year. Be specific.



Sharon Armstrong (photo left)

Do performance appraisals have to be so difficult for everyone, or is there a better way that can turn the appraisal into a positive for the supervisor, the employee, and the company?

Sharon Armstrong: I think organizations need to train managers and employees on their roles in the process then hold them accountable. If that happens, there will be benefits for all the stakeholders – the supervisor, the employee, and the company.

One of the issues that arises from performance reviews is that of employee compensation. How can compensation and incentives be worked into the appraisal in a positive way?

Sharon Armstrong: Pay for performance describes a broad range of pay practices. Repeated raises, while not meant to be such, might be considered entitlements if they are not linked to specific performance achievement. Pay for performance is intended to link a worker’s actions to his or her well-documented level of performance.

Many companies utilize a rigid rating approach for employees, believing it to be fair and unbiased. Is this really the case, and how can ratings be improved?

Sharon Armstrong: Ratings need to match the culture of the organization and be explained to all the players. For example, if the ‘middle’ rating is Meets Expectations that means that the employee is doing the job they were hired to do. Only if they exceed the expectations, should the rating reflect that. You want to avoid ‘rating creep’ – where everyone gets the highest ranking possible and the ratings lose all meaning.

When many employees enter the office for the appraisal, the meeting very often goes off the rails. What causes this problem and how can it be prevented?

Sharon Armstrong: There are many reasons why appraisals derail. Four reasons immediately come to mind. First there haven’t been mini-conversations on performance throughout the cycle. The result is often surprise and disappointment for the employee once they finally hear the manager’s assessment during the annual discussion.

Often times there isn’t a trusting relationship between the supervisor and the employee. Not everyone is committed to ‘active listening’ – a genuine effort to understand what both parties are saying. And lastly, no willingness to become actively engaged in owning the appraisal. This applies to both sides of the desk.

How should employers and employees be aware of the legal implications of a performance review?

Sharon Armstrong: Managing and evaluating employees has moved into a new legal arena. There are possible legal pitfalls that surround every performance discussion. Some of the pitfalls that can lead to legal complications include unclear communications, lack of concrete, specific goals, improper or lax record keeping, inaccurate or exaggerated performance ratings, and lack of follow up. Both supervisor and employee can make sure they are doing due diligence in these areas.

With different generations in the workplace, from Baby Boomers to Generation X to Millennials, how can the performance review process be kept relevant in changing times?

Sharon Armstrong: I really believe it’s more a matter of getting to know each and every employee and what motivates them. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book, First Break All the Rules say ‘we don’t breathe the same psychological oxygen.’ I love that. It reminds us that there’s no cookie cutter approach to managing employees.

What is the first step employers and employees should take toward improving the performance review system in their company?

Sharon Armstrong: The success of any system depends heavily on senior-level support. Once you have buy-in from the CEO, work to align individual goals with company goals. Develop a system that achieves what you want your performance review system to achieve. Train managers and employees in the process. Hold everyone accountable for the success of the system. Then continuously monitor and improve it. By doing so, you keep it in the spotlight and a vital part of your culture.

What is next for Sharon Armstrong?

Sharon Armstrong: I think I’ve written my last book. Four books is enough already! From this point on, I hope to help my clients focus on this process in a healthy way and incorporate best practices in their organizations. That is enough to do and that would make me very happy!

************

My book review of The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional by Sharon Armstrong.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this
 

The Essential Performance Review Handbook by Sharon Armstrong - Book review



The Essential Performance Review Handbook

A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional


By: Sharon Armstrong

Published: May 20, 2010
Format: Paperback, 224 pages
ISBN-10: 1601631138
ISBN-13: 978-1601631138
Publisher: Career Press








"Performance appraisals can be one of the most anxiety-provoking aspects of work life - for both supervisors and employees", writes human resources expert Sharon Armstrong in her valuable and thought provoking book The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional. The author tackles the often misunderstood subject of employee performance reviews with a team based approach that transforms the process into a powerful management tool.

Sharon Armstrong understands that all too often the employee performance appraisal process is painful for both management and staff. At the same time, the discussion between supervisor and employee is very often negative and counter-productive, resulting in mistrust and animosity. The vagueness and mystery surrounding the purpose and value of the assessments only adds to the disparagement of the entire system. Sharon Armstrong provides convincing evidence that the evaluation process doesn't have to be that way. In place of the adversarial method found in far too many organizations, the author presents a revolutionary concept that is both motivational for all concerned, but also one that adds new managerial skills and increases productivity. This collaborative approach to appraisals is based on creating an opportunity for teamwork instead of causing division and demoralizing results.



Sharon Armstrong (photo left) presents her concepts with an eye to creating a win-win for both supervisor and employee. Creating an appraisal process that is motivational and productive for all isn't done without some effort from everyone, however. The supervisor and employee must establish empathy for one another's role, and develop trust. Both people talking and listening, and sharing ideas and feedback enhances the process, making for a more positive and motivational experience. Sharon Armstrong provides the tools for developing and utilizing a standard and objective appraisal format, stressing fairness and collaboration. The author describes some of the most common errors found in many appraisal systems, and shares solid research based techniques to replace the typical mistakes.

For me, the power of the book is how Sharon Armstrong provides both a theoretical framework for developing an entirely new performance appraisal process, but also adds the hands on nuts and bolts to make the new system work properly. The book contains several sections that are especially useful, and that are not always found in handbooks of this type. Sharon Armstrong adds a critical section on following the various employment laws, and guidelines for ensuring that both the letter and the spirit of the law are followed. The author also includes a group of sample forms to illustrate her points about enhanced appraisals. The forms can be adapted readily to fit the requirements of most businesses. Two unique features of the book are the inclusion of the impact of performance appraisals for different generations, ranging from Baby Boomers, to Generation X, to Millennials. This inclusive section recognizes the often radically different outlooks of each generation. The author also presents a technique for adding modern management techniques including flexible working hours and telecommuting.

I highly recommend the appraisal transforming book The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional by Sharon Armstrong, to any business owners, executives, managers, or supervisors who are involved in the organization's employee performance appraisals. This book will not only improve the process, but will also engage and motivate employees, while increasing overall productivity.

Read the groundbreaking guide book The Essential Performance Review Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource For Any Manager or HR Professional by Sharon Armstrong, and turn the dreaded employee appraisal sessions into a positive force for team building and collaboration. You may even discover that appraisals are events to look forward to as an integral part of building a richer company culture of trust and mutual respect.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Thursday, August 26, 2010

 

Scot Herrick: I've Landed My Dream Job - Now What??? - Blog Business Success Radio

Listen to Wayne Hurlbert on Blog Talk Radio



Career management expert, founder and CEO of Cube Rules LLC, and author of the very practical and timely book I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job, Scot Herrick, shares his advice for new employees to create a positive impression in the first four weeks on the job. Scot describes how to create goals for the job and the overall career path, and how to get to know the new organization, its people, and the manager. Creating a week by week breakdown of measurable tasks to complete, Scot guides the new employee in the direction of success without being overwhelmed by new information. Using the four week process, the new employee can absorb the new information, while achieving success at completing the required tasks promptly and the right way. Scot's tips will make the transition to any new position a success on the way to a great career.

Scot Herrick is my internet radio show guest on Blog Business Success; hosted live on BlogTalkRadio.

The show airs live on Thursday, August 26, at 8:00 pm Eastern Time; 5:00 pm Pacific Time.

Career management expert, founder and CEO of Cube Rules LLC, and author of the very practical and timely book I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job, Scot Herrick, shares his advice for new employees to create a positive impression in the first four weeks on the job. You will learn:

* Why the first 30 days on the job is so critical to your career success

* How to create job and career goals and achieve them

* What to do in the first week of a new job

* What to do in the first four weeks on the job



Scot Herrick (photo left) is founder and owner of Cube Rules LLC, where he provides online career management training for Cubicle Warriors, his catchy term for today's knowledge workers.

Scot has a long history of managerial and individual contribution in Fortune 100 corporations. His corporate career has included assignments in sales, product design, project management, process engineering, workforce optimization and customer support.

He has implemented individual products for customers and enterprise-wide customer relationship management systems. He has successfully managed groups of four to twenty-two people.

At CubeRules.com, Scot shares his wisdom and experience to provide career management guidance for all cubicle warriors, to survive and thrive in these turbulent times.

My book review of I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job by Scot Herrick.

Listen live on Thursday at 8:00 pm Eastern, 5:00 pm Pacific time.

BlogTalkRadio.com

If you miss this very informative show, it will be available for free download as a podcast for iPod, iTunes, and MP3 players; or play it right on your computer. To download this, or any other of my guest interviews, go to the Blog Business Success host page and click on Archived Segments. Once there, click on the podcast icon at the end of the episode description, to download the show free of charge for your listening enjoyment. You can also subscribe to the show feed.

Add to iTunes

To call in questions for my guest, the number is: (347) 996-5832

Let's talk with career management expert, founder and CEO of Cube Rules LLC, and author of the very practical and timely book I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job, Scot Herrick, as he shares his advice for new employees to create a positive impression in the first four weeks on the job. Scot describes how to create goals for the job and the overall career path, and how to get to know the new organization, its people, and the manager. Creating a week by week breakdown of measurable tasks to complete, Scot guides the new employee in the direction of success without being overwhelmed by new information. Using the four week process, the new employee can absorb the new information, while achieving success at completing the required tasks promptly and the right way. Scot's tips will make the transition to any new position a success on the way to a great career on Blog Business Success Radio.

Tags: , , , , .

Labels: ,


Social bookmark this

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

 

I've Landed My Dream Job - Now What??? by Scot Herrick - Book review




I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What???

How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job


By: Scot Herrick

Published: May 5, 2010
Format: Paperback, 116 pages
ISBN-10: 1600051685
ISBN-13: 978-1600051685
Publisher: Happy About










"Without initial success - hitting the ground running - all your hard work securing your dream job will come to naught", writes career management expert and founder and CEO of Cube Rules LLC, Scot Herrick, in his very practical and timely book I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job. The author describes the critical importance of the first thirty days on a new job, and how to turn that initial month into a springboard to future career success.

Scot Herrick recognizes that landing a dream job in today's difficult economic climate is an important achievement itself. At the same time, the author points out that the down economy is an ideal time for a new employee to demonstrate superior employment skills and initiative. Since all jobs represent a transition from one position or company to another, it's important for the previous job to end well. With that positive experience in place, the next step is to create a strong first impression in the new employment role, making that first thirty days much more important than many people realize. Scot Herrick shows the new employee how to approach the new job, through establishing immediate and longer term goals, getting to know the new manager and co-workers, and actively learning the job and the expectations for what constitutes success. The first days on the job are not the time to be passive or inactive.



Scot Herrick (photo left) understands that while the first thirty days on the job is very crucial to future career success, the amount of information to learned and digested is very large and often overwhelming. With this information overload in mind, Scot Herrick breaks down the first four weeks into manageable blocks, with each week having its own specific goals and accomplishments in mind. For the new job holder, Scot Herrick recommends a proactive approach where the employee gets to know the all of the stakeholders including the co-workers, the manager, and the customers. The author also reminds people to ask questions, provide samples of partial projects for feedback and guidance, and to ensure that all assignments are completed promptly. Scot Herrick also suggests learning the manager's style, developing your personal brand, and seeking ideas and feedback from customers. Through this active approach to the job, the new hire will develop a head start, while creating a positive first impression as a goal and results oriented employee.

For me, the power of the book is how Scot Herrick demonstrates the vital importance of the first four weeks on the job, and how to turn that initial month into a platform for future career success. The author provides practical and universal advice that can be applied to any new position. Scot Herrick shares tips for covering all aspects of the new job, from establishing goals to building a strong relationship with the manager and the customers. A really valuable part of the book is how each of the four initial weeks is given separate goals and achievements, keeping the new employee from becoming overwhelmed. Even more important are the review sections for the end of each weeks. With the provided checklists, the transitioning employee can discover what areas were covered and which aspects of the job require more information.

I highly recommend the easy to read and essential book I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job by Scot Herrick, to anyone entering a new job, whether it's a first time job, a transition to a new company, or a promotion within the same organization. In every case, that first thirty days on the job, and the impression the person creates, have a powerful short and long term effect on the incumbent's career.

Read the helpful and advice laden book I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? How to Achieve Success in the First 30 Days in a New Job by Scot Herrick, and take control of your own career in that all important first month on the new job. The advice is so powerful that it can spell the difference between a long and successful career, and finding oneself derailed, in today's down economy.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

 

Jim Harter: Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements - Blog Business Success Radio

Listen to Wayne Hurlbert on Blog Talk Radio



Engagement expert, Chief Scientist of the Gallup international workplace management and wellbeing practices, and co-author of landmark and groundbreaking research based book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, Jim Harter, shares groundbreaking research from Gallup that demonstrates the importance of employee wellbeing and its effects on organizations and individuals. The research shows how organizations can help employees improve their overall level of wellbeing, ranging from career satisfaction. to financial security. to community involvement. Enhancing an organization's culture not only boosts employee wellbeing and job satisfaction, but also increases productivity and the company bottom line. At the same time, Jim Harter employs the cutting edge research to show how much of what was thought to be known about employee wellbeing and how to improve it is wrong.

Jim Harter is my internet radio show guest on Blog Business Success; hosted live on BlogTalkRadio.

The show airs live on Tuesday, August 24, at 8:00 pm Eastern Time; 5:00 pm Pacific Time.

Engagement expert, Chief Scientist of the Gallup international workplace management and wellbeing practices, and co-author of landmark and groundbreaking research based book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, Jim Harter, shares groundbreaking research from Gallup that demonstrates the importance of employee wellbeing and its effects on organizations and individuals. You will learn:

* Why the five essential elements of wellbeing are important

* Why focused and non-holistic approaches to wellbeing don't work

* Why wellbeing is important for employee engagement and the bottom line

* How to integrate employee wellbeing into the workplace the right way



Jim Harter (photo left) is Chief Scientist, Workplace Management and Wellbeing, for Gallup's workplace management practice. His research has been reported in several business bestsellers, academic articles, book chapters, and publications such as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller 12: The Elements of Great Managing, an exploration of the 12 crucial ingredients for creating and harnessing employee engagement. Harter's latest book, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, Jim Harter, is based on a global study of what differentiates people who are thriving from those who are not.

Harter is the primary researcher and author of the first meta-analysis to investigate the relationships between work-unit employee engagement and business results. This study, which is updated periodically, currently covers 32,000 business units in 44 industries and 26 countries. He is coauthor of "Manage Your Human Sigma," published in the Harvard Business Review (July/August, 2005). This groundbreaking management approach assesses and improves the quality of the employee-customer encounter.

Since joining Gallup in 1985, Harter has authored or coauthored more than 1,000 research studies for profit and nonprofit organizations on employee engagement and talent and on topics in industrial and organizational psychology and wellbeing. His specialties include psychological measurement and the estimation of the practical effect of management initiatives.

Harter received his doctorate in psychological and cultural studies in quantitative and qualitative methods from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with his wife RaLinda and their two sons.

My book review of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter.

Listen live on Tuesday at 8:00 pm Eastern, 5:00 pm Pacific time.

BlogTalkRadio.com

If you miss this very informative show, it will be available for free download as a podcast for iPod, iTunes, and MP3 players; or play it right on your computer. To download this, or any other of my guest interviews, go to the Blog Business Success host page and click on Archived Segments. Once there, click on the podcast icon at the end of the episode description, to download the show free of charge for your listening enjoyment. You can also subscribe to the show feed.

Add to iTunes

To call in questions for my guest, the number is: (347) 996-5832

Let's talk with engagement expert, Chief Scientist of the Gallup international workplace management and wellbeing practices, and co-author of landmark and groundbreaking research based book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, Jim Harter, as he shares groundbreaking research from Gallup that demonstrates the importance of employee wellbeing and its effects on organizations and individuals. The research shows how organizations can help employees improve their overall level of wellbeing, ranging from career satisfaction. to financial security. to community involvement. Enhancing an organization's culture not only boosts employee wellbeing and job satisfaction, but also increases productivity and the company bottom line. At the same time, Jim Harter employs the cutting edge research to show how much of what was thought to be known about employee wellbeing and how to improve it is wrong on Blog Business Success Radio.

Tags: , , , , .

Labels: ,


Social bookmark this
 

Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Jim Harter & Tom Rath - book review



Wellbeing

The Five Essential Elements


By: Jim Harter, Tom Rath

Published: May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN-10: 1595620400
ISBN-13: 978-1595620408
Publisher: Gallup Press






"Much of what we think will improve our wellbeing is either misguided or just plain wrong", write Gallup researchers Jim Harter and Tom Rath in their landmark and groundbreaking research based book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. The authors describe how employee wellbeing goes far beyond simply being happy or well paid, but includes five essential components that provide a holistic approach to employee engagement, that extends far beyond the workplace.



Jim Harter (photo left) and Tom Rath share cutting edge global research from the prestigious Gallup organization that demonstrates that commonly held views of employee wellbeing are very often wrong. Many employers believe that if an employee is well paid, and enjoys good employment benefits, that staff member should experience wellbeing. The authors' research shows that good pay, and even being happy and healthy, are not enough to contribute to wellbeing. In fact, the authors point out that focusing on just a few factors in isolation of the other critical elements of wellbeing may even be harmful and counterproductive. The research leads to the conclusion that people are not independent of one another, but are instead interdependent, requiring an all inclusive and holistic approach to wellbeing, ensuring that all aspects of a person's needs are fulfilled.



Tom Rath (photo left) and Jim Harter describe the five essential elements of wellbeing, that must all be considered and recognized to be effective. The five crucial elements are:

* Career wellbeing regarding how you spend your day
* Social wellbeing of love and relationships in your life
* Financial wellbeing of well managed finances to reduce money stress
* Physical wellbeing pertaining to good health and energy levels
* Community wellbeing of involvement in your local area

By including all of these elements, and not simply focusing on one or two, employers can develop wellbeing in their employees. In workplaces where people's overall wellbeing is taken into account, employees are more engaged and more productive, while the organization is more profitable as a result.

For me, the power of the book is how Jim Harter and Tom Rath utilize an extensive Gallup study of more than 150 countries, representing 98% of the world's population, to back up their concepts and recommendations. Because of the global nature of the research project, the results go far beyond nations, cultures, and faiths, to present a human view of wellbeing. Because the book is so heavily research based, the authors are not providing simply their personal opinions. Instead of anecdotal evidence, that may be misleading at best, the extensive study results provide a strong basis of evidence in support of the book's concepts. As always, Gallup's research is first rate, and is reliable upon which to base a complete organizational wellbeing program.

I highly recommend the seminal and must read book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Jim Harter and Tom Rath, to anyone seeking a deeper and richer understanding of what employee wellbeing really means, and why many of the more common approaches to the subject end in failure. As the authors point out in their book, a complete and holistic approach to wellbeing is more effective, and is also good business for the company.

Read the intriguing book Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, and begin an all encompassing and comprehensive employee wellbeing initiative in your company. By changing the company culture to one of wellbeing and engagement, everyone benefits in the end.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Monday, August 23, 2010

 

The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal - book review




The Unexpected Son

By: Shobhan Bantwal

Published: July 27, 2010
Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages
ISBN-10: 0758232039
ISBN-13: 978-0758232038
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation












Vinita Patil discovers a past and a present she had thought had never existed when she discovers she has a son in her former home of India. She had thought the son was stillborn, but finds out that she may lose him again without ever meeting him to leukemia. An urgent letter draws Vinita back to her home town in India, and into an experience of love, joy, heartbreak, and inspiration in the engaging and moving novel The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal.

In a story that bridges time and place, past and present, and lives once thought lost and a rediscovered present, Shobhan Bantwal creates a world both rich in detail and in memorable characters. The author touches a universal theme of love of family and of children, as mother and son find one another under life threatening circumstances. As Vinita returns to her home village, once a tiny hamlet but now a bustling and polluted small city, her move back in time clashes with modern India. Filled with the sights and sounds, and even the scents and flavours of India, the novel immerses the reader in a world at once distant, yet near to the heart as universal human emotions draw the reader deeply into the story.



Shobhan Bantal (photo left) develops the enduring themes of love, family, a sense of loss, of discovery, and of redemption in her fine novel. The story traverses cross-cultural boundaries from America to India, where the present meets the past and finds the present once again. The long lost son represents the hope for the future, while at the same time is a metaphor for a past thought lost and without hope for recovery. That hope is met in part through the terrible illness suffered by the son, and the love of his mother as she arrives in her past to meet the future. The now grown hometown itself represents the changes that have taken place in India, just as Vinita herself has changed with the passing of years. Despite the superficial changes, however, the deeper love and attachments remain and endure in Vinita and in her former home country.

Like all fine novelists, Shobhan Bantal peoples her novels with memorable and very real characters. This story is no exception, as the people and their motivations and actions reflect those of people all over the world. Love, family, joy, and sorrow know of no national boundaries, and Shobhan Bantal writes and describes timeless themes in an entrancing style, that brings her twin worlds of India and America together as one. Indeed, the meeting of East and West, where worlds can both collide and unite, forms a powerful allegory for the modern global village. The novel is rich in characters, but is also rich in time and place, and the author fills in the atmosphere with skill and delight.

I highly recommend the wonderful novel The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal, to anyone seeking a story of love, of family, and of a clash and uniting of two very different cultures. The novel draws the reader into the story, and the lives of the characters, and maintains interest until the last page is read. Even as the novel is closed, these remarkable characters live on in our minds.

Read the heartwarming novel The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal, and travel between America and India, and enter the lives of some very fascinating people. As the title suggests, be prepared to expect the unexpected.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

Sunday, August 22, 2010

 

Monique Reece: Real-Time Marketing For Business Growth - Author interview



Marketing consultant and founder and CEO of MarketSmarter, Monique Reece, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about her practical and comprehensive book Real-Time Marketing for Business Growth: How to Use Social Media, Measure Marketing, and Create a Culture of Execution.

Monique Reece describes how there is no one simple all powerful marketing secret or technique, but instead sustainable business growth is the result of many small efforts.

Thanks to Monique Reece for her time, and for her informative and intriguing responses. They are greatly appreciated.

What was the background to writing this book Real-Time Marketing for Business Growth: How to Use Social Media, Measure Marketing, and Create a Culture of Execution?

Monique Reece: I have been involved in developing marketing and growth strategies for over 25 years so I have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work and how to improve the process and outcomes. I was also intrigued by the fact that some companies had developed an exceptional strategy to win in their market, yet would fail to execute on that strategy. What caused these companies to fail? Was it related to operational execution, or something else? The answer is “something else.” The secret to execution is company culture. If more companies knew this it would completely change their growth and success rate.

Why is it so important for a business to articulate clearly its purpose?

Monique Reece: Company culture is largely defined by its purpose, which is the vision, mission, values and goals of the business. Purpose is the soul of a business and it’s what makes up the DNA of the brand, both internal and external. If a business wants to have a powerful external brand, they must have a healthy internal brand first. The only way to create customer evangelists who become Net Promoters is to create happy, satisfied, and engaged employees. Most companies have this formula backwards.

Why are so many mission statements and visions so weak, and how can they be made more powerful?

Monique Reece: The reason they are weak and ineffective is because the purpose behind them is not clear and meaningful. Or if it is, it’s only to a small group of people who worked on developing it. Vision and mission statements mean nothing if they are not communicated on a regular basis AND brought to life so people know not just what they are, but really understand and believe in them. It needs to be part of their everyday experience.

Vision statements can be made more powerful several ways. First, it should be inspiring and compelling, something that people want to be a part of. Second, if people are inspired they want to know how they are going to get there. This is where a marketing and business plan come into play. It defines a roadmap to achieve the vision. Third, it needs to be communicated so people have the opportunity to interact with it, ask questions, and see how their role contributes toward achieving the vision. This engages them emotionally, and it also drives them on a very practical level through their day to day execution of activities that are aligned and working toward a common purpose.

Why is it so critical for a business to define and practice its core values?

Monique Reece: Core values are the most important component of a business’ purpose and culture. Core values define the beliefs and behaviors of the people who work in a business. A core value means very little if there is not a description of what it means. For example, the values of “Accountability” or “Customer Service Excellence” are nothing but sound bytes without meaningful definition and examples attached to them.

It’s interesting that you use the word “practice” because that is the key to execution. Values are more than words on a piece of paper, yet they are often not treated as such. Values drive behavior and the way people work together, so they need to be practiced, which is done through demonstration, modeling from the leadership team, and active discussion. Core values have a very direct impact on execution. They are so tightly integrated, yet this important fact is so often overlooked.



Monique Reece (photo left)

How can a business person measure what is truly essential in the performance of the business?

Monique Reece: Business performance is directly linked to the company goals and objectives. If these are clearly defined and based on what is essential to the performance of the business, then the measures will be aligned. Beyond the critical measures of revenue, profit, gross margin and cash flow, there are other essential measures. For example, customer retention, customer lifetime value, customer profitability and other marketing/customer metrics are vital measures of business performance. Because these factors are also the primary contributors to profitability, they should be measured and reported as often as other financial figures.

What is the biggest mistake that entrepreneurs make?

Monique Reece: The single biggest mistake businesses make is not creating a written marketing plan that serves as an operational roadmap to improve strategy and execution. Most entrepreneurs, and many large companies for that matter, don’t write a plan because they don’t have the time; they are too busy executing. Entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing they have a plan, but it exists only in their head. This leads to two critical errors that are often fatal for a business.

The first is overlooking or minimizing the importance of research to a marketing plan. A business can’t possibly understand all the market drivers of their business without understanding their target market, competitors, and most importantly, what their customers want and how they perceive their business. Everything is in a constant state of change so we don’t need less planning, we need more. The difficulty is how to keep pace with change and this is where real-time marketing planning comes in. When businesses integrate real-time planning into their business, not the old school method of annual planning, then marketing plan becomes an operational plan that guides day-to-day decision making. It’s both strategic and tactical.

Another advantage of real-time planning is that the process involves several teams across a business which creates a much more collaborative effort and solves another problem, the second fatal error, which is communicating the company strategy so people understand it. Research proves that 90% of employees don’t understand their company’s strategy and how their daily work connects to the strategy. When people do, this adds another benefit to planning which is improving the company culture.

How can a customer centric culture be started and then maintained over the long term?

Monique Reece: The most critical element of company culture is company values because they drive beliefs and behaviors. Values can be defined in a similar way as personal values, for example integrity, accountability, and trust, or they can be defined as a specific set of five to ten principals. But what is most important is how they are brought to life in the business so people understand what the values really mean.

A common mistake many companies make is to define values and then do nothing to promote them and ingrain them into the culture so they become the internal brand for a business. People need to understand what they are, why they are important, and be given specific examples of what it means to demonstrate the values. This needs to happen every day, all the time. When this is done well, a company’s external brand image is a mirror of its internal brand image.

Many business people market to the wrong people. How can a business person define the company's ideal customer?

Monique Reece: This is the central point that drives research. Market segmentation and primary research are the best methods for businesses to understand and define who their ideal target customer is, and why they buy. What do customers value and how well do they deliver it to them? Is it better than the competition? These questions can only be answered one way: ask them. An ideal customer can also be defined by analyzing customer segments and individual customer revenue, profit, frequency of purchases, cross-purchases, the level of service customers and segments require, and other criteria such as this. Once a business knows who its ideal customer is, then it’s easy to target the right market.

How can markets be segmented effectively to best serve the customers and the company?

Monique Reece: I suggest using the process described above. The best customer profile becomes the ideal target market, or “A” customers. Then segment customers into B, C, and D customer groups. “D” customers are deadbeats that are defined as being low profit, low revenue, and require a high level of service. In other words, they are an energy drain on a business and its people. “C” customers are typically high revenue and low profit and the goal in evaluating this customer group is to identify why they are low profit. For example, do companies in this segment tend to be large customers that demand price concessions? “B” customers present an opportunity because they are usually high profit, but low revenue.

The key question is how can you transform these customers into “A” customers? Sometimes it involves promotion to encourage purchase frequency. Other times a business learns that a customer is completely unaware that the company offers a certain service and they just need to do a better job of educating customers about what they do.

How can social media be used more effectively in marketing, while avoiding being spammy?

Monique Reece: The key is to be relevant to your target audience. Share resources, ideas, and insight to help others. The real value of social media is the opportunity to share, learn and engage with others. Businesses can use social media to increase their understanding of how customer use and value their brand. It can also be used to monitor customer satisfaction, improve customer experience, develop new products, or launch marketing campaigns. If the goal is to generate leads or promote a specific product or service, then it should be done in a way that is consistent with the brand image and messaging. Instead of pushing a strong sales message, provide a link to a landing page that will invite those who are interested to learn more about a specific offer.

How can pricing be improved for product or service?

Monique Reece: Prices can always be improved when a business adds or improves the experience customers have with a product or service. What would customers value so much that they would pay more for it?

Businesses should analyze all the competitive offerings and solutions, including substitutes, for their business. Then they should look at the added value and experience their solutions offer that differentiate them from the competition. The more solutions are differentiated to provide customer value, the more a business can charge.

How can sales and marketing channels be identified and enhanced?

Monique Reece: One of the best ways is to map the potential options for delivering products or services to customers. Each channel needs to be analyzed using several criteria such as:

• What is the reach of the channel?
• Will it provide access to new customers in your target market or access to new target markets?
• What is the estimated revenue from the channel?
• What additional costs will be incurred to market and sell through the channel?
• Do you need specialized channels or channels to reach certain geographic areas?
• Will the channel add expertise or enhance brand image for your company?
• How will you support the channel with training, marketing, and incentives?

This last point is important and it highlights an area that several businesses tend to underestimate in terms of size and budget. Training is not a one-time event that happens upon closing an agreement. A channel sales team needs ongoing training and development to continuously achieve, just as an inside sales team does. When a business establishes a new channel, it’s also important to set specific goals, discuss roles and responsibilities, and determine metrics and reporting expectations. Channels need ongoing feedback and nurturing to make them successful.

Many businesses face severe challenges with growth. How can these problems with growth be reduced or even avoided?

Monique Reece: When a business faces a problem in sales, marketing or business growth, the solution can always be found by remembering this: all roads lead to planning. Better planning always helps businesses overcome risk, anticipate the unexpected, and to make well-calculated decisions. It will also improve ROI for sales and marketing programs. When businesses plan, measure, and adjust they build in a process to continuously learn and improve results.

Innovation is critical for companies. How can an entrepreneur continue the innovation process while the business grows?

Monique Reece: Innovation is needed well beyond the engineering, R&D, and product development teams. Increased innovation drives new business processes, new customer value, cost efficiencies, and strategies to compete and win in competitive markets. There are several different types of innovation that a company can apply to specific areas of the business. For example there is process innovation, customer experience innovation, marketing innovation, and even organizational innovation which is reorganizing a business to deliver more value to customers instead of organizing around product silos.

Selling through new distribution channels like the Internet can also create new revenue streams through product and service transactions or through commissions from affiliate relationships. New revenue can also be produced by fees from memberships, subscriptions, licenses, installation, maintenance and service, click-through fees, and hosting or on-demand fees.

Aside from business model innovation, I would recommend that businesses look at simple ways to integrate innovation into their business culture. There are dozens of ways to do this. A few examples are to rotate employees to work in different parts of the organization for a few weeks or months. This will give them an entirely new, holistic perspective of the business and probably several new ideas they can apply to their regular job.

Another idea is to present a bi-weekly or monthly seminar program with outside experts or leaders from different areas of the company. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a brown bag luncheon works very well for this purpose. It shows employees that you care about their development, and the cross-functional interaction stimulates learning and new ideas for everyone. Businesses can also establish communities of practice so employees can work together on topics they are passionate about, or a special problem or issue that is important for the company to solve.

What is next for Monique Reece?

Monique Reece: I will continue doing what I love to do which is helping businesses grow to the next level. I’m building a tool that will help business measure and improve the results of their sales, marketing and channel programs. Another area of focus is company culture. I really believe this is one of the best ways for companies to improve their business results, yet as a strategy, it’s dramatically underestimated and underutilized.

*****************

My book review of Real-Time Marketing for Business Growth: How to Use Social Media, Measure Marketing, and Create a Culture of Execution by Monique Reece.

Tags: , , , .

Labels:


Social bookmark this

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?