Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company



If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions.

How is your company’s overall productivity? How do you feel about the individual performances of your employees?

If you wince at either of these questions, it’s likely you have reasons to be concerned.

Consider some possible indicators:

– Overall work quality is deteriorating.

– Projects or tasks aren’t being completed on time, nor not at all.

– Teamwork and morale are subpar as it is with poor communication.

– There are many excuses as employees fail to take responsibility or to make corrections.

If it’s any consolation, this is typical. Companies in every sector have these issues – from healthcare providers to law firms.

But you have to be realistic. As a manager, you’re part of the problem for allowing such issues to develop and fester.

There are no easy fixes, but it’s absolutely possible to solve.

Here are the right strategies:

1. Hold yourself accountable

Again, no one can fix these issues but you. Sure, you can bring in an outside participant to coach you and your staff but ultimately you’re the common denominator and problem-solver.

So be a role model. Whatever you expect of your staff, set an example. It’s recommended that you learn the right leadership strategies to earn employee respect.

Never ask anyone to do something you aren’t willing to do. Be transparent as possible, be rigorously honest, and keep your commitments.

2. Pay closer attention to your human capital

Walk the floor. Ask employees questions about their weekend. Listen.

Employees appreciate engagement. They like knowing you care. So regularly engage your employees for business success.

Particularly from productive employees, solicit their ideas for organizational improvement.

Know what they expect from you:

  • Honesty
  • Fairness
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Dependability
  • Collaboration
  • Genuineness
  • Appreciation
  • Responsiveness

3. Set benchmarks

Set clear objectives. Develop and implement objective metrics for you and your employees.

To realize your business vision, use best practices for setting goals.

Get each employee to commit to improvement to upholding your goals.

Then, test and measure … test and measure … and test and measure. Explain tactics to employees – what they must do to implement and tactics and to meet goals.

4. Be diligent

Make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations. Naturally, you want to praise good performance and discourage bad.

What are the best ways? Make certain you avoid errors in evaluations.

Start monitoring – have a good antenna. Get busy when the symptoms that lead to poor performance start raising their ugly heads.

Insist on accountability.

Install quality controls, insist deadlines are met and your employees are responsible. Their behavior must align with their personal and the organization’s goals.

5. Disallow excuses

True, there might be good reasons for issues. However, as in any situation or dysfunction, each party is partly to blame.

One person might be just five percent at-fault. Whether it’s failing to fully anticipate obstacles or failing to communicate about faulty equipment, no one person is perfect.

Assertiveness and proactivity are keys to success. Each person must learn to pursue excellence, execute and correct the five percent.

6. Know your job

Your job is not to be the best friend for each of your employees. Your job is to coach, be a mentor and to be the leader.

This includes delegation. Effective employee delegation is a fundamental driver of organizational growth. Managers who are effective in delegation show leadership.

7. Show courage 

Don’t allow mental retirements.

Not everything you do will be appreciated even if it’s the right thing to do. That’s especially true if you’ve allowed dysfunction and suddenly make improvements.

Much has been written about preferred skills for managers.

We always talk in mundane terms for the need of managers to convey a vision, achieve goals and to foster growth and well-being for a work-life balance.

Seldom do we talk about the C-Word, which is a critical characteristic of effective managers.

Don’t worry, be happy – even when the going gets tough.

If you act and feel positive, eventually every employee will come around or leave.

If employees quit after you launch such a program for improvement, you’ll be better off recruiting positive employees who have emotional intelligence.

8. Give recognition

Praise employees when appropriate. When an employee deserves praise, give it. Don’t forget to let their coworkers know about it.

After all, non-financial incentives motivate most employees.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related management tips:

Management — 5 Frequent Causes of Cost Overruns and Failures — Extensive research shows how and why corporate projects result in cost overruns and failures. The academic study is entitled, ‘Yes Men’ Are Killing Corporate Projects. The research reported rampant misreporting of project statuses at all levels of the companies. The errant information is prompted from cultural predispositions to career aspirations.

Optimize Talent Management with 5 Coaching Culture Tips — When managers become coaches, you get a higher-performing workforce. You will have replaced mediocrity with strong performance. Here’s how to develop a coaching culture.

10 Management Attributes for Effective Communication — Communication skills are critical for managers. People with enhanced abilities in communication typically have successful relationships at work and home. Good communicators typically have 10 attributes.

5 Quick Management Tips to Motivate Your Employees — A major quandary for managers is to bring out the best in their employees. Every manager wants to do it, but it’s not always easy. What’s the reason? Usually, it’s because employees are disengaged – disconnected from their managers and companies. Here’s how to fix it.

Management: How to Help Employees to Grow Professionally — Managers owe it to the organization to help their employees grow professionally, and will benefit from higher employee performance and low turnover.

“Accountability breeds response-ability.”

-Stephen Covey


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




For Strong Profits, Create an Effective HR Mission Statement



So you’re creative in marketing. You’re innovative in human resources. Your company probably has an impressive mission statement.

But do you have strong profits?

If not, are you effectively aligning business strategies with your HR department? The answer is likely no even if you have an HR mission statement.

ID-10065921 David Castillo Dominici The most-profitable companies develop an effective HR mission statement tied with business strategies.

Why? They inspire employees and motivate senior management to become stronger leaders.

Typically, even if companies have HR mission statements, they’re badly written and don’t manifest business strategies.

Characteristically, the statements are littered with contemporary buzz words and jargon.

Exemplary HR mission statements are businesslike – they give inspiring guidance by aligning HR initiatives with a company’s overall business objectives.

To develop a businesslike HR mission statement, here are six steps:

1. Budget time for blue-sky sessions. Such brainstorming requires a pen or pencil, a notepad and a change of scenery for creativity.

Ask each person who has HR duties to list the department’s goals, priorities and values.

Understanding that a team is only as strong as the weakest person, then ask each person to list their personal achievements that lead to profits.

Ask the persons to write how they spend their time each day. Why are they effective and why not?

Ask them to list the department’s overall achievements regarding business profit.

The next step is ask them to write what they’re ideal personal situation would be, and what should an HR mission statement look like to reach the company’s business goals.

2. Follow the same process with senior management. That would include all functions from marketing and sales to operations.

With an eye on strategies and objectives, they should then analyze the elements that stimulate profits.

3. Purify and refine your HR’s core values and drivers. Stay focused. Summarize them in a maximum of five specific, powerful sentences.

This will be your tentative HR mission statement.

4. Evaluate all of your HR initiatives. Decide which of them corroborate your tentative mission statement.

Determine which of them don’t. Scrap the activities that don’t lead to your company’s goals.

5. Hand out the mission statement to all managers and most-talented employees. Ask them to comment on it and to predict what they think will lead to strong profits.

6. Review the feedback and take action. Make the necessary changes for your new HR mission statement.

You should have a document that explains how your HR department will help your company reach its business goals, and specifies how the approach will quantify success.

So avoid the inane bucket list of HR tasks.

Instead, explain your HR’s responsibilities and how success will be competitively measured.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are editor’s picks:

5 Reasons for a Strategic Plan and its 6 Key Elements – Are you ready to compete? Is your company like many that need to rethink their strategic plans? Here are some tips in strategic-planning basics.

Productivity – 7 Steps to Build Performance Indicators — For performance-measurement in human-resource administration, the key is to design measurement systems to drive engagement, productivity and quality. Here’s how.

HR Management: 3 Values to Deliver Top Customer Service — The three values needed to achieve top customer service are easy-to-understand but arduous to achieve. But if your human resources program adopts and implements these values, you’ll achieve enviable organizational effectiveness – a high performance culture – for strong revenue.

HR Perceptions vs. Reality – There’s a Big Gap, Study — A big schism exists between what human resources professionals think they know about their workforce and what employees actually believe, according to a study. It was conducted by the HR firm, Kenexa. Its white paper is entitled, “Employee Attitudes and Engagement.”

Increase Your Business Value with 5 Basic BPO Strategies — For your company to achieve higher performance, you often need to enhance your business processes. In essence, this means turning your attention to business process optimization (BPO), which is a holistic approach. The benefits: With BPO, you’ll be able to evaluate and authenticate your existing practices and create new processes via imagined situations.

“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.”

-Mae West


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry






6 Best Practices for Your Cause-Related Marketing Program



Well-run companies are fully aware of their social responsibility. They know the value of investing in their communities.

Cause-related marketing programs can, of course, accomplish two goals: Help deserving organizations increase revenue and propel your business to a profitable stronger image.

What works?

Assuming it’s a worthwhile cause, you and the nonprofit must have the right tone of voice in your approaches. A compelling campaign will talk with – not at – your audience. Engagement is the key objective.

ID-100297509Here are the six best practices:

1. Make sure it’s a win-win

Words matter. You’ve heard the adage, “Charity begins at home.”

Both the charity and your company must profit. Many marketers mistakenly using the term “cause marketing” vis-à-vis “cause-related marketing.”

The term cause marketing is a misleading term. It represents a danger because what happens is the focus goes more on the charity than the sponsor.

Your goal should be to help a charity while you help your company to sustainability.

Therefore, because the two goals are intertwined, I prefer the term, cause-relating marketing.

2. Inspire with simplicity

It might sound cruel but you must write at the sixth-grade level while accomplishing two goals in your messaging.

Firstly, use an economy of words so that the average busy person easily understands your message. That means writing for the ear of people who lead hectic lives.

Secondly, arouse and enthuse your audience to act.

3. Tell a story effectively with visuals

My research shows the time spent using the average Web site is only three minutes, five seconds.

Mega Web sites attract visitors for 30 minutes or more at a time.

But the stat also means half the world’s Web sites have a high bounce rate – users take a quick look at the content and leave right away.

It’s the same story on television. The attention span for many people is quite short, which why marketers create unique videos.

The trick is to create a brief video that effectively tells your story with a call for action.

Businesses aren’t successful when society crumbles around them.

 

4. Include a physical display

To illustrate your points, include physical components that easily illustrate the intent of your message – simpler, the better.

Be creative in being relevant. Try to surprise your audience – unpredictability will further your cause.

5. Use an integrated marketing approach

It used to be that one traditional medium worked in cause-related campaigns, but no longer.

Focus on earned media, public relations, social media and traditional mediums like radio and TV.

To capitalize on the tendencies trending in lifestyles so far in the 21st century, incorporate a myriad of messages tailored for each medium to broadcast your message. Because each medium has a different audience and sub-audiences.

6. Ask for a commitment

Your objective here is to convince your audience to commit to taking action get involved by giving you feedback. That’s also known as starting a dialogue or engagement.

Once you get people to participate, it’s much easier to get donations.

And use a proven technique: Prevent buyers’ remorse by stressing relevant information.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are editor’s picks:

Cause-Related Marketing Can Increase Sales by Double Digits — The Biz Coach has long-advocated cause-related marketing. Customers love community-minded businesses. Now, he’s happy to report on a major study.

Techniques to Influence the Feelings of Your Shoppers — With all the digital channels available to you, you have a unique marketing opportunity. But chances are you’re not fully capitalizing on your customer engagement.

Earn Profits via Innovation, Relationships and Local Marketing — If your company is struggling as a result of declining profits, at least three factors are responsible: The clutter of competition, management, and ever-expanding and head-scratching list of advertising options.

Critical Essentials to Develop the Best Marketing Formula — There are critical essentials for marketing, which includes the right channels and developing the right message. That includes the right branding slogan and logo. Unless your targeting upscale consumers, many consumers prefer value marketing — not cute, which doesn’t necessarily mean selling at a lower price than your competitors. Hyper-consumerism is history. Humor is great, but more importantly, traditional values with a purpose are in vogue. Why? Consumer attitudes are changing.

For Top Sales, 5 Rules for Targeting the Right Prospects — If you target the right prospects, you’ll save time and money and increase your revenue. There are five rules to follow. They’re developed for B2B but work for B2C, too.

Businesses aren’t successful when society crumbles around them.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Earn Profits via Innovation, Relationships and Local Marketing



Successfully operating a business has never been more difficult.

If your company is struggling as a result of declining profits, at least three factors are responsible.

Firstly, the clutter of competition gets more and more foreboding every year. So it’s crucial to implement continuous analysis and innovations.

MH900422730 young business womanSecondly, mismanagement of internal operations.

Thirdly, making it worse in marketing is the ever-expanding and head-scratching list of advertising options.

The trick is to pick your best marketing options — customized locally if you have multiple locations.

Innovation and due diligence

You can learn a surprising lesson in innovation and due diligence from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart’s stock has been tanking after it started suffering from declining sales.

The company has blamed its deteriorating profit situation on its highly publicized wage increases for its employees.

That’s nonsense. Nor is the tepid Obama economic recovery the reason for Wal-Mart’s demise.

But the Digital Age has brought us a new era in competition. Wal-Mart is being hit hard by companies that have made more recent innovations.

Ironically, the company made its mark by innovating.

— Wal-Mart was successful for six reasons:

— The company learned its suppliers’ costs

— Negotiated favorable prices from vendors

— Developed an excellent supply chain management

— Paid low wages to employees

— Sold products at low prices

— Later, it developed a good Web site

Personally, I have a lot of appreciation for what the company has done. So I wish the company well. Once, for example, at a family reunion, my elderly parents drove on a lengthy road trip to attend.

My parents grew up in the Great Depression of the 1930s, and learned to be very fugal. Frugality is good. But there is a point at which frugality does more harm than good. On a Saturday night, I discovered the tire treads on my parents’ car were too thin.

Finally that night, my parents reluctantly agreed to let me buy them new tires. But I had a scheduling problem as I was due to fly home the following evening.

The only tire store opened on the following day, Sunday, was a Wal-Mart. I was able to buy a set of four high-quality tires at a low price. That meant I was able to make my flight and my parents safely finished their long journey home.

And I have other positive, personal stories to regale you about Wal-Mart.

But if you go to an average Wal-Mart, it isn’t uncommon to encounter unfriendly employees and messy, poorly stocked shelves.

Seemingly, Wal-Mart has deviated from its original mission:

“Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners. In turn, they will treat you as a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations,” said founder Sam Walton.

What Mr. Walton said many years ago is applicable for Wal-Mart and all businesses today. Wal-Mart has been overlooking a major profit driver – its employees.

If you want maximum profits, partner with your employees.

Meantime, as many American consumers have discovered, they can save money on good products by changing their buying habits – shopping elsewhere online.

The virtual marketplace provides shoppers with wider selections, competition that pushes prices downward as it eliminates supply-chain shipping to stores.

In a sense, it’s unfair because shoppers know what to buy after seeing products firsthand in brick-and-mortar stores like Wal-Mart.

Other than partnering with employees, there are two key lessons from Wal-Mart for similarly beleaguered companies: 1) Improve the shopping experience and customer service (see dozens of informative articles here); and 2) implement the best marketing customized for each locale.

Marketing

Always remember good PR – earned advertising – is an excellent complement with paid advertising.

The list of advertising options is endless. But even local brand names in advertising aren’t necessarily the best choices, if you’re not buying from the right person.

So if you don’t know where to invest your hard-earned dollars, the solution is simple: Buy only from the best knowledgeable people who are expert in local marketing.

In most medium to large markets, if your monthly marketing budget is $10,000 or more, hire from the best local marketing consultants. In reality, a marketing consultant can be free as the person works off the standard 15 percent advertising agency commission.

Otherwise, you can make the advertising buys yourself.

To pick the right consultant or make the right advertising buys, look for the best local marketing expert.

As you start considering whom to hire, here’s what you must consider:

1. Listening and observation skills

Evaluate whether the person knows your business and competition. Look for trustworthiness. Once you share information with the person then look for empathy and caring about your welfare.

2. Added value

Look for the person who shares timely trends about your industry, shopper trends, and overall marketing tips.

All kinds of national data is available, but only use it if it’s apropos for you locally. A savvy expert will give you data with local options via AdMall for consumer spending; ad spending by your local region via BIA/Kelsey, Borrell Associates or Kantar; and auto dealer spending and vehicle registrations via Polk.

3. Expert opinions

Working within your budget, a local marketing expert will make astute recommendations to increase your odds for success.

4. Complete sales person

A great marketing person knows how to get bonuses in radio and television advertising. A stellar media sales rep knows how to negotiate with the sales manager to get your business free, unsold commercial time.

Often, extra, free commercials will make a big difference for you to cut thru the clutter of your competitors’ advertising.

5. Cause-related marketing

Generate consumer goodwill by coordinating sales that will benefit local charities or nonprofits.

6. Participate with merchant association events

Consider being a sponsor in “Small business Saturday” and other local events. Look for ways to be the dominant sponsor.

7. Network

Join a local organization or associations that have businesspeople as members. A good example is your local Rotary club. You’ll experience positive camaraderie and sales.

The bottom-line: Do your best for your employees and customers, and make your go-to marketing person a quasi part of your team.

In the end, it’s all about relationships.

From the Coach’s Corner, more relevant strategies in innovation and marketing:

Cause-Related Marketing Can Increase Sales by Double Digits — The Biz Coach has long-advocated cause-related marketing. Customers love community-minded businesses. Now, he’s happy to report on a major study.

10 Innovation Tips to Boost Your Long-Term Customer Base — Businesspeople are constantly under pressure. Daily events make it challenging to make critical decisions for financial sustainability. Businesses must innovate to survive.

Tech Checklist to Provide the Best Customer Support — Ever wonder why big chains – from quick-service restaurants to electronic products – print invitations on sales receipts to entice customers to go the companies’ Web sites to comment online? They’re doing it for customer engagement. Businesses need insights on how they’re faring with customers.

Companies Profit Most by Investing in Customer Engagement — Better business performance results when CEOs show leadership in providing the best-possible customer experience. That’s confirmed in a global study.

Powerful Example for Business: Course Correcting in Sailing — Cunning and skill are paramount for success for both business and sailboat racing. A salient concept in sailing is course correcting. Here’s how to apply it in business.

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”

-Anthony J. D’Angelo


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Trending: How Merchants Increase Profits in Q4 Holiday Sales


As consumers continue to start earlier and earlier to shop for their holiday giving, merchants are honing their marketing strategies.

Their tools include advertising, brand protection, strategic pricing, staging events, and using traditional media and digital.

In essence, consumers shop earlier for a head start to capitalize on the best deals. To lure shoppers, marketers are using multi-channels – from traditional media to digital.

ID-100111025 marinA  2015 Market Track, LLC study showed 83 percent of shoppers planned to complete most of their shopping for holiday gift-giving by Cyber Monday or earlier.

Companies are doing it to themselves. Thanksgiving discounting served to train consumers to shop earlier and earlier. And businesses and began discounting earlier to gain a competitive edge.

For in-store selling, Black Friday is staying dominant. Cyber Monday will lure the majority of digital shoppers.

The overall effect is that price differentials between online and in-store sales are continuing to narrow.

Retailers are pulling out all the stops to influence shoppers to purchase online, pick up items in the store, offer free shipping and accelerated deliver of online purchases.

So shoppers are hunting anywhere and everywhere for deals. That includes print ads, Web sites, TV commercials and e-mail promotions.

Consumers continue to compare prices for electronic products online – Amazon’s wheelhouse.

Marketing tactics

— As early as October, merchants are offering door-buster sales and the so-call best deals of the season.

— Businesses are strategizing to make it difficult for consumers to compare prices and product features. Merchants are focusing on bundled and layered offers, and marketing their private-label products.

— Traditional media will dominate – print ads, television and radio. They’re also using e-mail, social media and in-the-moment advertising in-stores.

— Mobile marketing will be increasingly used with a focus on user experience and convenience.

— Businesses are increasingly using event marketing and opportunities for consumers to try products before they buy.

— Strategies include in-store drawings and sweepstakes.

— They’ll continue to push gift cards.

From the Coach’s Corner, related sales strategies:

Checklist to Create Cyber Monday Sales Success — In order to celebrate your Cyber Monday sales, you must first create a happy buying environment. That means reviewing your store and Web site to attract prospects and to create happy customers.

Web Site ‘Priming’ – 6 Tips That Will Help You Succeed — If you want to increase your odds for Internet success, you might consider priming your Web site. Six primes motivate your visitors to make decisions.

Social Media – 5 Quick Tips to Boost Your Christmas Sales — Here are five social-media ways to increase sales by the end of the holiday season.

7 Precautions for a Profitable Layaway Program — Despite the continuous changes in technology, retailers are reverting to a sales and customer-loyalty practice that was prevalent in the 1950s. That would be a layaway program to sell more products to cash-strapped customers. Big box stores, such as Walmart and Toys R Us, have benefited from PR when they’ve announced their layaway programs.

Marketing Tips to Run Your Online Business for Higher Profit — E-commerce has made it possible for entrepreneurs to get a fast return on their investments with higher profits. Here’s how they do it.

Strategic Tips to be Web-Ready for the All-Important Q4 Sales — Data from a Bold Software survey helps businesses develop their holiday online sales strategies, according to Website Magazine.

Energize Your Customer-Loyalty Program with 6 Steps — The quickest way for established businesses to optimize revenue is to have a stellar customer-loyalty program — there are six steps you can take for repeat sales and referrals. If you’re not a great steward of your current book of business, it’s futile to look for new customers.  

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.”

-Bob Burg


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 




Photo courtesy of marin at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Companies Profit Most by Investing in Customer Engagement



Better business performance results when CEOs show leadership in providing the best-possible customer experience.

Yes, when the big boss is involved in improving the experience of customers, the company enjoys more profit – plus revenue growth and loyal customers.

Those are the findings from a 2015 global study by Genesys (www.genesys.com).

ID-10097371The report is entitled, “The Missing Link: Connecting Customer Experience with Revenue Growth and Profitability.”

The research includes the customer experience (CX) efforts and leadership of 516 CEOs in 21 nations.

“This study clearly demonstrates that C-level engagement in customer experience initiatives drives competitive advantage,” says Paul Segre, President and CEO of Genesys.

“In an era when consumers have more choice than ever, the research validates that investment in CX is a sound investment in sustainable competitive differentiation,” he adds.

Key findings

The study concludes 58 percent of companies led by a CEO in charge of customer experience enjoyed significantly more profit.

Fifty-nine percent had stronger revenue growth.

Many CEOs in China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia seem to understand the connection between CEO leadership on customer experience and profits.

However, only about 33 percent of CEOS in North America lead in customer experience initiatives.

In Europe, typically it’s the chief marketing officer who is the executive to lead in customer service efforts.

Sixty-three percent of CEOS who lead in customer service beat their competitors in satisfying customers.

Only 55 percent of North American companies see customer experience investments as “very important.”

But 71 percent of CEOS in Brazil, Columbia and Mexico lead the globe in making the customer experience “very important.”

More than 50 percent will increase customer-experience investments by 10 percent.

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

-Walt Disney

Customer loyalty

Despite a universal decline in customer loyalty, only a third of CEOs understand that they’ll retain more customers with a customer-experience strategy.

An eye-opener: Just 20 percent of companies now see the benefits of social media in customer service perceptions.

But it’s different approach in Asia Pacific and Latin America. Such CEOs believe in the potential of social media of a customer-loyalty too.

For them, social media, Web self-service and online support will become more extensive.

“Ambitious companies are driving large investments in customer experience initiatives to adapt to the digital communication channels customers are demanding,” concludes Charles Ross, lead researcher of the study.

“By prioritizing CX and placing the CEO in charge, companies are taking an extra step to drive revenue growth and improve profitability.”

Amen. The data for North American companies is hard to believe — isn’t it?

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resource links:

HR Management: 3 Values to Deliver Top Customer Service — The three values needed to achieve top customer service are easy-to-understand but arduous to achieve. But if your human resources program adopts and implements these values, you’ll achieve enviable organizational effectiveness – a high performance culture – for strong revenue.

13 Strategies to Keep and Attract Valued Customers — Have you experienced the agony of not enjoying the fruits of your labor? That includes not having enough time for projects, not enjoying life outside of your business, and worse – losing customers. You’re also losing opportunities for referral business. Here’s what to do.

How Some Companies Get Creative in Customer Service for Great PR — As you no doubt know, it’s increasingly competitive and costly to attract customers. It’s also a challenge to hang onto to customers while adding more for your business growth. Typically, consumers react favorably to marketing after receiving five positive messages.

How to Best Profit: Word-of-Mouth Advertising, Customer Service — To increase your sales revenue with word-of-mouth advertising, here are 10 tips.

10 Innovation Tips to Boost Your Long-Term Customer Base — Businesspeople are constantly under pressure. Daily events make it challenging to make critical decisions for financial sustainability. Businesses must innovate to survive. Here are 10 key questions to ask about your business.

Why Your Customer-Loyalty Program Might Not Be Profitable — Researchers are warning businesses that their customer-loyalty programs, which are designed to increase repeat business, may be causing more harm than good.

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

-Walt Disney


 

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Marketing Tips to Run Your Online Business for Higher Profit



The Internet, of course, has made it possible for entrepreneurs to get a fast return on their investments with higher profits. Successful e-commerce is accomplished thanks to access to millions of consumers worldwide.

However, countless entrepreneurs have mistakenly thought all they had to do was put up a Web site and the money would flow.

Many entrepreneurs have also learned that a lack of great reviews – or much worse, bad reviews – will disillusion prospects and customers.

Web site owners have also neglected the potential of mobile-friendly Web sites. Unfortunately for them, they’re being penalized by not being able to reach the masses of people who are increasingly using their smartphones to shop.

Entrepreneurs are also learning that their competitors with mobile sites are ranking higher on Google than they are, and sell more product because they create the best possible mobile apps.

stockimages cartTo maximize your digital opportunities, here are the basics:

1. Understand the online selling process

To get loyal customers for repeat sales, there are five stages:

Introduction – your prospects are introduced to your business usually via social media or by visiting your site.

Persuasion – your prospects are exposed to your value propositions and reasons to buy.

Interaction – you engage the prospects with options and answering questions via a chat or with a FAQ section.

Selling – your shopping cart goes into action with online sales, or you sell over the telephone or in your bricks and mortar store.

Preservation – you track user preferences and follow-up to entice them into repeat buying.

2. Understand why your company is unique

Determine your best niche and why you’re the best. So know your strengths and weaknesses.

Identify your target audience and their likely perceptions and preferences. Start to create your brand’s personality. Develop value propositions or benefit statements so your prospects will perceive value.

Create a branding slogan in three to five words and develop a simple, but memorable logo.

A simple logo as a favicon is important for use in a search engine presentation (for a brief explanation about favicons, see the eight best practices in small business marketing).

… countless entrepreneurs have mistakenly thought all they had to do was put up a Web site and the money would flow.

3. Determine what skills are needed

You or someone on your staff needs to be analytical with the ability to think critically. The person needs to be capable of making strategic moves to anticipate necessary steps, and tracking your successes and failures.

This means it’s important to study analytic reports about your social media, your blog readers and visits to your site.

Someone has to stay on top of online reviews and respond accordingly.

4. Identify and implement marketing behavior to match your goals

Certainly, you want top-of-the-mind brand awareness. You also want to make sales. To achieve these goals you must identity the right tactics.

But most entrepreneurs fall into a trap – they’re constantly putting out fires – reacting instead of acting. That stems from confusion in not knowing how their efforts contribute to the objectives of the big picture.

So they engage in busywork – starting a Twitter or Facebook account – without a vision for growth for the big picture goal. What they need to be doing is understanding human nature – how the average online visitor decides to buy.

5. Determine your investment

An investment can be in the form of energy, money or time. You must decide on a budget for each.

That means how much effort you will expend in blogging, earned advertising including online press releases, using the right social media, search-engine optimization, developing centers of influence and paid advertising.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related strategies:

14 Steps to Profit from Online Customer Reviews — For competitiveness and profits, businesses can’t afford to ignore the potential of online reviews. They’re a factor in revolutionizing commerce. Reviews are important because they influence prospective customers to buy from you. They’re also beneficial in improving your Internet presence because search-engine crawlers consider them to be relevant.

Marketing Tips via Mobile Devices, Reviews, Coupons — Digital marketing opportunities keep growing and growing. For instance, 70 percent of consumers research product reviews while they shop in stores. Ninety percent are relying on their mobile devices as they make in-store buying decisions.

4 Best Practices to Enhance Your Google Ranking with Digital Content – There are four best practices if you want strong ranking from Google’s search rank algorithms, higher click-through rates and more social sharing from your content and press releases. That’s according to the Ranking Factors Study from Searchmetrics. The study shows the four practices improve message visibility and campaign results on the Internet.

For Strong Local SEO Performance, Avoid 6 Errors — A key strategy to make your cash register ring is to have a strong Internet presence. That means strategizing for strong local search-engine optimization (SEO). With strong local SEO performance, your business will have online top-of-the-mind awareness in your community. You want to be easily discovered by potential customers.

Social Media – 5 Quick Tips to Boost Your Christmas Sales — Here are five social-media ways to increase sales by the end of the holiday season.

“The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows.”

-Aristotle Onassis


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of stockimages www.freedigitalphotos.net

Managed Service Providers Will Profit If They Learn Best Practices



Are managed service providers (MSPs) terminally unique in their business challenges? In other words, do they face unique challenges — such as in billing customers and in sales — all because they’re selling intangibles, not tangible products?

No, they’re not terminally unique. Information-technology service providers face the same issues as most companies in traditional intangible sectors, such as insurance.

But many MSPs have problems coping with typical challenges, according to a 2014 study by IT Europa. (IT Europa, www.iteuropa.com, is a leading provider of strategic business intelligence, news and analysis on the European IT marketplace.)

entrepreneur-593358_1280Actually, in their quest for profits, all businesses have to work to solve the following issues:

— Branding

— Pricing

— Sales

— Quality products and services

— Controlling expenses/cash flow

— Management/human resources

— Customer service and retention

— Strategic planning

— Innovation

The events and sectors might differ, but best practices in other industries are applicable and transferable to MSPs.

The study’s key findings:

– Channels need to know how to charge for services: with falling prices for hosting and cloud services, the MSPs need to differentiate. One of the issues that came out of the study is that they have concerns over rising competition.

However, on the client side, there is a rising need for expertise and skills in making it all work, particularly when linking in to legacy systems, so there is a clear role for MSPs to use any vertical market expertise they have to provide an essential service, and charge for it.

– Clearer propositions are needed: delivery models should offer the flexibility and scalability that the study shows customers expect and which MSPs are glad to provide; but they may need explaining better; the industry is so new, and growing so fast it has yet to get its marketing message straight.

– MSPs need all the help they can get, in marketing, tools, integration and to use all the available skills and resources.

MSPs told the study that they have real concerns in finding the right partners, particularly among vendors, citing quality of support and quality of product as the two main things they regard as important or very important, especially by smaller MSPs.

– Many of the people in the study had concerns over enterprise mobility; mainly because of the scale of involvement, pace of change and the integration issues. There are just not that many people around who have done it to the scale that is coming.

So, the challenges are typical. Solutions in other sectors are applicable for MSPs, too.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are some of those solutions:

5 Reasons for a Strategic Plan and its 6 Key Elements — Are you ready to compete? Is your company like many that need to rethink their strategic plans? Here are some tips in strategic-planning basics.

For Stronger Profits, Avoid 11 Typical Pricing Mistakes — In general, how can you manage the sweet spot – between your price-optimization and costs? Dennis Brown of the consulting firm, Atenga (www.atenga.com), says many companies make 11 pricing mistakes:

Create Buzz to Win Your Major Marketing Campaign — There are many reasons for marketing failure of a campaign. Here are 14 of the more important reasons.

The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success – seven steps to higher sales, five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.

HR Management: 3 Values to Deliver Top Customer Service — The three values needed to achieve top customer service are easy-to-understand but arduous to achieve. But if your human resources program adopts and implements these values, you’ll achieve enviable organizational effectiveness – a high performance culture – for strong revenue.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

-Albert Einstein 


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




8 Strategies When Sales Drop and Costs Cut into Your Profits



If your sales are down and costs are hurting your profits, you’re certainly not alone. This is still not a good economy for many sectors.

The irony is you can do something about it.

Here are eight strategies:

1. Turn the problem into an advantage

Consider making a bigger product and charging a higher price.

If you have products with good margins, use them as loss leaders to entice customers to buy your other products.

2. Use traditional tactics

Start by determining your break-even point, which will be a catalyst for ideas.

Reduce the size of your product, if you think your customers won’t care.

Your customers might notice but many will still probably buy to avoid paying higher prices.

3. Recycle and reuse

Look for more ways to save money in your operations. Plan better delivery routes to use less gas.

Avoid or at least delay upgrading software.

Purchase pre-owned products. Partner with your employees and incentivize them to come up with money-saving/money-making ideas.

4. Negotiate

Business relationships are important. But if you can’t afford your vendors’ prices, try negotiating.

“The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit.”
-Samuel Gompers

5. Change your vendors

If your vendors aren’t willing to negotiate, look for others with which to do business.

6. Close the office and go home

Work from your home. More and more businesspeople are using technology to telecommute.

Talk with your CPA.

You’ll avoid paying office rent, and you’ll be able to take a write0ff at tax time if you dedicate space for business.

7. Increase your prices

Hopefully, your brand is strong, and your customer satisfaction ranks high. Warn your customers and explain why you must increase prices, and express empathy and appreciation for their business.

Provide more added-value – if it doesn’t hurt your bottom line any further. Fine-tune your customer service.

8. Expand marketing economically

Bone up on social media, get more opportunities as a guest speaker, find strategic alliances for cross-promotion, write press releases and discuss possible trade-out opportunities with the media.

Radio stations are known to give free advertising in exchange for products and services.

If all else fails and you really feel you can’t raise prices – then don’t. Just accept your situation and keep on truckin’.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for relevant articles:

Do You Know What Drives Your Profit? (There Are 4 Drivers) — For profits, entrepreneurs must learn how to manage their financials and performance, which are difficult tasks. Savvy business owners know who their ideal clients or customers are. Entrepreneurs realize financial benefits when their revenue from business exceeds their expenses and taxes. This results in a much easier task – deciding whether to save, spend or invest the profit back into the business. So, it’s imperative to know what drives profit.

Quick Checklist for Profits You Can Implement Today — Here is a top-10 checklist for profits: 1. Review and fine-tune your business plan. Be sure to discern your competitive landscape and benchmark your main competitors. 2. Bring on the A team – both in staff and advisors.

How to Grow Sales (through Pricing and HR Training) — Sophistication in pricing by salespeople is an excellent driver to grow earnings rather than just looking for ways to cut costs. Instead of growing their profits with sophistication in pricing, many businesspeople miss growth opportunities when they mistakenly cut muscle – usually in human capital and branding. Here’s a better way.

Profit Margins: 11 Tips to Increase Sales and Minimize Markdowns — Imagine being able to sell your products at full or nearly full margins. How would you like a dream situation – not having to mark down your products? It’s important to develop and implement responsive, multi-dimensional strategies to maximize your sales.

6 Rules to Keep Your Pipeline Full for Continuous Sales — It doesn’t matter what type of business you have. Even if your sales are great today, there will come a time when sales will crawl to a halt unless you take precautionary measures to keep your sales pipeline full.

“The worst crime against working people is a company which fails to operate at a profit.”
-Samuel Gompers


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 




Want Profits? Avoid Best Buy’s Example as Low-Price Leader



Best Buy provides lessons for small business. In adversity, there are two things a company must be hesitant to do: Cut marketing and human resources. Best Buy is a troubled company. Yet in 2014, it cut its marketing budget 26 percent, including its TV advertising budget 69 percent. 

Some of it’s challenges stem from unfair Internet competition, and again it felt compelled to match the prices of online competitors in the 2013 holiday selling season. That’s not good for a company that has brick-and-mortar sales expenses.

Once you start focusing on being the low-priced leader, you’ll stay there. Or worse, you’ll go out of business. In other ways, the company has caused its own problems.

Best Buy’s net income is down, and got a new CEO who is determined to cut expenses. The old CEO resigned his position and left the board in the wake of the discounter’s financial problems. Then, he engineered a plan to buy Best Buy, but to no avail.

You might recall in 2012 Best Buy tried to lower its expenses by $800 million by 2015 in closing 50 of its superstores and by laying off 400 employees. Instead, it will focus on 100 new smaller stores to sell mobile products.

“In order to help make technology work for every one of our customers and transform our business as the consumer electronics industry continues to evolve, we are taking major actions to improve our operating performance,” said Brian J. Dunn, CEO of Best Buy, in announcing the cutbacks before he resigned.

“As part of our multi-channel strategy, we intend to strengthen our portfolio of store formats and footprints – closing some big box stores, modifying others to our enhanced Connected Store format, and adding Best Buy Mobile stand-alone locations – all to provide a better shopping environment for our customers across multiple channels while increasing points of presence, and to improve performance and profitability,” he added.

Whew, that’s a mouthful. It appears to be an attempt to create a smokescreen about its business-model issues. 

True, Best Buy has been hurt somewhat by the Internet, especially Amazon.com. The consumer practice of “showrooming” has been devastating. Consumers visit retailers like Best Buy to check out products, but then go online to buy at the cheapest price.

Best Buy is also hurt by the manufacturers. If you buy a product at Best Buy and register a purchase, you’ll be inundated via e-mail by the manufacturer. It seems almost daily – manufacturers the likes of Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard are trying to sell products to consumers directly. 

However, most purchasers want a test drive before they buy a new tech product. Though not known for selling the newest products, Costco makes it work by creating trust with great customer-service policies. Costco also has a better clientele — small businesspeople and high net-worth shoppers. Most are unlikely to pull the showrooming nonsense.

Poor business model

Historically, no company has ever been profitable solely by trying to sell electronics products at the lowest price. It simply isn’t a viable business model. Actually, it doesn’t work in any sector.

For a sustainable business model, customers have to perceive sufficient value.

When shoppers enter Best Buy stores, they perceive that too many employees only want to sell products, and not provide a service.  But Best Buy really needs to invigorate sales with 11 customer retention, referral strategies. 

Further from my perspective in the Pacific Northwest, here are my observations after shopping at Best Buy stores: 

  1. Failure to deliver with mediocre prices
  2. Poorly dressed salespeople
  3. Inconsistent product knowledge among salespeople, and some knew less than I did
  4. Some salespeople were condescending and rude (in particular – Springfield, OR)

Clearly, customer service and sales training are in order. The latter three reasons are enough to drive customers elsewhere. It’s important to get strong results from an HR training investment.

Also, it’s important to understand why people will buy from you – remember it’s always an emotional decision.

Admittedly, about 18 percent of customers – blue-collar and professionals, alike – will only buy if you’re selling at the cheapest price in the marketplace. That’s also helped cause the annoying consumer practice of showrooming.

Assuming you’re selling products of value, avoid those people. They are the most troublesome.

Even if they buy, they’re more likely to show up the next day demanding to return their purchase. Even if they keep the purchase, they complain the loudest and longest.

Focus on people who are motivated by price and value.

For them, here are the five value perceptions of what your customers sub-consciously think in motivating them to buy from you:

Employees, Spokespersons – 52 percent. The key characteristics are integrity, judgment, friendliness and knowledge. Remember, about 70 percent of your customers will buy elsewhere because they feel they’re being taken for granted by your employees. And customers normally will not tell you why they switched to your competitor.

Image of Company – 15 percent. They are concerned about the image of your company in the community. Cause-related marketing is a big plus in forging a positive image. So is cleanliness and good organization.

Quality of Product or Service Utility – 13 percent. The customer is asking the question – “What will this do for me?”

Convenience –12 percent. Customers like easy accessibility to do business with you. That includes your Web site, telephoning you, and the convenience of patronizing your business.

Price – 8 percent. Price is important, but it’s the least concern among the five value-motivating perceptions. Use the eight simple strategies to give you pricing power.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are three salient resource links about sales and profit:

“Where you start is not as important as where you finish.”

-Zig Ziglar


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.