How Do You Define Your Marketing?

As you develop your marketing programs, are you looking at your competitors for inspiration, or are you focused on what your clients want?

If you’re letting current/standard industry practices determine how you need to market your business, you could be missing the boat.

If you want to create a compelling marketing program that attracts new customers, you need to focus your energies where those prospective clients are and what they want. For example, if you don’t think you need to blog or tweet because your none of your competitors are doing it, you’re not seeing the full picture.

  • Are your clients online?
  • Are they researching products and services before they make a purchase?
  • Are they scrolling through their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram feeds?

If so, it makes sense for you to be there, too.

Don’t make people search far and wide to find you. Make it easy for them to see you, understand you, and get to know you now— before they even realize they need you.

Stand out in the crowd

Your target market wants to know what you have to offer and what makes you different. Even if you’re offering the same basic things as other businesses, there’s something special about you. Something that sets you apart. You talk about it in staff meetings, on the phone, and in business meetings. It’s part of your company training, your company culture, and your company DNA. And yet so many companies allow themselves to get stuck looking at the competition for marketing cues.

If you want to be appealing to your clients, you need to go directly to the source. Yes, you should have an idea of what the current industry standards are. But you should also realize that they may not get you where you want to go. To make the greatest impact, you’ll want to look to your clients and prospects themselves for inspiration. Specifically, your best clients and your ideal prospects.

Do your homework

Carefully review your target markets. Look at their preferences, their behaviors, and what they are doing on line. Ask your best customers what they love about your company, your service, or your products. Ask them why they chose you initially and why they keep coming back. Doing so will give you a much better idea of what they value in your company rather than simply evaluating the marketing efforts of your competition.

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll be able to build a marketing program that reflects right back at your clients and prospects exactly what they want and value.

Hit the right target

Think about it – you’re not trying to get your competition to do business with you. You’re trying to attract happy customers and clients.

If you look just like the other businesses in your space, you will have effectively erased any competitive advantage you may have. The more you watch and emulate your competition, the more you risk being just another ____________ company.

But if you focus obsessively on your clients, and consistently communicate how you can help them or make their lives better, you’re going to stand out as the superior choice.

  • How can you make your customers’ lives easier? More convenient? More efficient? More meaningful?
  • Can you help them save time, money, and resources? What about the environment? Or the world?
  • Are you offering ways to help their achieve their  goals and reach their full potential?
  • Are you listening to their comments, kudos, and complaints?

Zero in on what your customers care about and then put together a marketing plan that blasts those messages out loud and clear. And if your competitors are inspired by what you’re up to, all the better.

Because that means now you’re the one worth noticing.

 

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5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

 

Better Engagement Starts With Better Vision

Employers say they want their employees to be engaged. But engaged to what?

Does your team understand where you want to take them and what your ultimate goes are? Can they feel your excitement? Can they see your vision?

Engagement is a two way street. In order to create an environment full of actively engaged employees, you have to give them a reason to care. And that means tying the vision of the company to the employee experience.

Seeing is believing

Your leadership team may have the most amazing mission, vision, purpose, and values in the universe. But if nobody knows about these things, they may as well not exist. Because they aren’t inspiring anyone.

For your business to be at its best, everyone in it should be able to see and understand what drives the company and where it’s going, as well as how and where they fit into the big picture.

Unfortunately, organizations or leaders often have no real idea of what that vision is, much less how to communicate it. Or connect it back to employee roles and performance. To make this happen, you need to do some soul searching. And some homework.

Start by asking and answering the following questions:

  • What is important in our organization?
  • Where are we heading?
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What results are needed to hit our goals?
  • What resources and actions are required to achieve our objectives?
  • How can we tie each of these things back to every person on the team?

Only after you’ve created a vivid picture of your company vision can you make it come to life for your employees.

Start by understanding the goals of the organization. This is what drives the subsequent objectives and tasks your employees perform. Goals tend to focus on profitability, employee satisfaction, client satisfaction, and/or growth. An example here could be for the company to create a minimum of 20 percent annual, organic growth.

Once you have your goals set, you can define your specific objectives. These are the results you want your employees to achieve. They are based on the goals of the company, and will involve specific tasks. Tasks are the daily activities for which an employee is responsible, and are usually included in the job description.

The key is to connect the dots with all of these things and tie them back to the organizational vision— and your employees.

Communicating your way to success

Now that you’ve done all of this work, it’s time to incorporate it into your employee communication and processes.

For leaders, managers, and supervisors, this means sharing the overall vision with everyone in the organization. And this isn’t a one-and-done event. Your vision needs to be constantly communicated and reinforced.

One key way to do this is by having a weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings with each of your reports. If you’re communicating regularly, these check-ins should last no more than 10 or 15 minutes. The purpose isn’t for an all-out performance review, but rather to review progress, challenges, and feedback for the last week or month.

As a supervisor and a steward of the company vision, it’s your responsibility to constantly communicate the vision and provide guidance on what employees can and should be doing to help make it a reality. You’ll also want to recognize individuals for what they have already accomplished, and problem solve to reduce any barriers that may be holding them back.

If you’re not currently doing this, having regular one-on-one meetings may sound daunting. But these sessions are key to connecting and engaging with your employees, and your time investment will reap rewards at year-end, when the annual evaluation becomes simply one more review session. Because you’ve been continuously monitoring, reviewing, and adjusting performance metrics and processes throughout the year, there should be no surprises for anyone here.

Have you shared your vision lately?

If you want your employees to be connected to you, you need to connect with them. You’ve got to give them some reasons to get excited, to care, and to want to do their best.  

Yes, it takes time. But with a little planning and a lot of communication, you can make it happen. And you’ll all be happier for it.

 

Photo by  crazymedia

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

Need to Define Your Business Purpose? Here’s How.

There’s a lot of talk about how having a defined purpose is important for your business. And with good reason. To be successful, you need to understand WHY you are in business. And we’re not talking about profitability here. We’re talking about the purpose behind the profit. That thing that inspires you to do your best and deliver your true value. Every single day.

Sometimes, defining these things can get a little tricky. Even if you have a very strong sense of purpose, it might be hard to put it into words. But doing so can be a game changer for your business.

Wondering how to get started? Here’s a handy guide to help you articulate why you are in business.

It’s not about getting rich

Yes, everyone wants to make money. But this is about more than that. You’re looking for your bigger, more inspired purpose.

Start by asking yourself and your team, “What do we do as an organization?” Write it down. And then ask yourselves, “Why is this important?” Write down your answer.

Then, follow that answer with the same question: “Why is this important?Write down your answer.

Repeat this line of questioning about 5 times. When you find you’re getting to the core idea of your Why, then write the final answer in the form of a sentence that starts with “We believe…”

Here’s an example

Let’s say you’re in the talent management business.

  1. Why are we in this business? What gets us excited about what we do?
  2. We love matching great people with great organizations. | Why is it important?
  3. Because people need good, stable jobs and companies need reliable, talented employees. | Why is that important?
  4. If people can’t find jobs, they can’t provide for themselves or their families. If companies can’t hire quality employees, they can’t stay in business. And if they can’t stay in business, they can’t provide stable jobs for people who need them. | Why is that important?
  5. We believe communities thrive when they’re filled with happy employees working at great companies.

When you get to the answer or belief statement that starts explaining your inspired reason for what you’re ultimately trying to achieve with your business, then make a statement explaining it.

We strengthen communities by helping companies meet business objectives through employee attraction and retention.

Or for more flair and enthusiasm, you might say,

We help build thriving communities filled with extraordinary companies that are talent magnets.

Put your own personality to this description in a way that matches your company personality. In a further narrative (a paragraph or two), explain how you accomplish this. Talk about how you find, screen, and match candidates and how this influences the companies you work with. Don’t include this type of detail in your Purpose statement itself, otherwise you could limit the company to doing specific thing. But this will provide some good insight for company decision-making and for new employees to better understand who you are as an organization.

Keep your purpose statement broad and flexible so you can modify specific services and processes as you grow, but know that it keeps you on track with your identified purpose.

Your Why/Purpose drives everything

Once you determine what your statement is going to be, make it your primary filter for everything you say and do as an organization. Question your intentions before taking action by seeing how your decisions and goals align with your purpose.

When faced with a decision, do a gut check – maybe it’s a new service offering, a new partnership, a new marketing opportunity – and ask yourself, “Does this help us strengthen the community and the employers we work with?”

Connect with your team and your customers at a level that challenges and educates them and helps them create a better environment. This will make you clearly attractive to the types of clients who value what you value.

Start by defining your purpose. Once you’ve got it down, live by it. Share it with your employees, your customers, and the world. Then see where it takes you.

 

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5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

 

Why You Need to Invest in Professional Development

You know you it’s important. You know you should do it. But it can be expensive. And time consuming. Plus, you’re just so busy! And you’ve got a business to run. All of these things may be true, but so is this simple fact:

If you don’t take the time to improve and grow, your business won’t either.

And while you may be able to survive a serious development drought on a personal level, your organization can’t. If it doesn’t wither and die, it will quickly become overshadowed and hidden by the growth happening all around it.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. No industry, market, or sector stands still. Laws, regulations, technology, consumer needs and expectations are constantly changing, with or without you. You can choose to keep up, stay stagnant, or fall behind. You can also choose to get ahead and be looked to as someone who is leading the change instead of fearing or ignoring it.

Sounds good, right?

You’re darn right it does. Because the difficulties that come with change are nothing compared to the stress of being left behind.

When you’re leading the charge, you get to determine what it looks like and how it gets executed. You also get to collaborate with other like-minded leaders who are trying to accomplish the same things, which increases your confidence, your influence, and your effectiveness exponentially.

But you have to be strategic

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of professional development opportunities out there. A quick scroll through your in-box will easily prove this to be true. Everyone’s got an angle. Everyone wants you to sign up for their service, adopt their platform, or attend their seminar. Unfortunately, many of these so-called opportunities are, in fact, a waste of time and money.

There are four ways to approach these opportunities:

1.) Be a whale

It can be tempting to want to take in everything that comes your way. If a little personal development is good, then a lot must be even better, right? Not so much. Whales have a very efficient filtering system that allows them to keep what is useful and discard the rest— before they spend a bunch of time trying to digest it. Unless you’ve got a fleet of people with lots of time on their hands, you don’t have that luxury. Biting off more than you can chew will only give you indigestion.

2.) Be an ostrich

You know these folks. The ones who are always putting their heads in the sand. To be fair to our real, live ostrich friends, they actually have good reason for doing this. They’re nesting. But you’re a business person, not a giant bird. Putting your head in the sand will only keep you in the dark. And focusing too much on your cozy little nest will only ensure that you stay squarely in your comfort zone. Which isn’t going to move you forward.

3.) Be a deer

You want to improve yourself, your business, and your chances of success, but you’re overwhelmed by the fear, the circumstances, and the sheer number of options. Instead of propelling yourself forward, you stay frozen and immobile, unable to make a decision. “Deer are crepuscular,” says David C. Yancy, a deer biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. When a headlight beam strikes eyes that are fully dilated to capture as much light as possible, deer cannot see at all, and they freeze until the eyes can adjust. “They don’t know what to do, so they do nothing.” We all know how this story ends.

4.) Be a falcon

“The Peregrine falcon is not your average avian predator. When hunting, this remarkable bird will fly to great heights, then dive bomb its prey abruptly at speeds of up to 242 mph,” says the Smithsonian Channel. Um. Yeah. This bird is your new idol. First, he finds a solid perch where he can take a good look at the bigger picture. What’s happening in the landscape before him? What opportunities does he see? What obstacles are in his way? What exactly does he want to go after? Then, once he sets his sights on his goal, he’s 100% focus. We’re talking all in. At 242 miles per hour, he can’t afford to be distracted, or go after things he doesn’t need.

Which one do you want to be?

The falcon, right? (Please say it’s the falcon).

If you’re a whale, at least there’s hope. But if you’re an ostrich or a deer, you need to change your ways. Like, yesterday.

Take a look at where you currently are, and where you want to be. What kinds of skills and tools do you need to get from point A to point B? Evaluate your business, your clients, and your market. What strategies are working for you? What strategies are falling flat? Where do your strengths lie? Where do you struggle?

Once you’ve uncovered areas for improvement, don’t jump onboard with the first thing (or everything!) that comes your way.

Do your research. Look into different groups, events, and options. Seek out industry people and companies you admire and look at the kinds of things they’re doing. See what organizations and associations they belong to, what events they’re attending, who they’re connected with, and what books they’re reading. Ask around, get advice, and choose carefully. Your time and resources are a precious commodity, and you need to make them count.

It’s like your mom used to say, “You are who you hang out with.” Make sure you’re seeking professional development from organizations and colleagues you admire, respect, and trust.

Once you’ve figured out what you need and how you want to go about getting it, you can begin to shift your mindset and start thinking about professional development as a critical investment you can’t afford NOT to make.

After all, if you don’t invest in yourself, why should anyone else?

 

Photo by  Radachynskyi Serhii

5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook

Making it RAIN for Your Employees. And Your Business.

Sunshine is always nice, but in order to fully blossom, sometimes your employees need a little RAIN.

RAIN is a mindset that allows you to get the most out of your employees, and your employees to get the most out of working for you. This shift in thinking can bring you happier, more engaged employees, and a more motivated and productive team.

The RAIN mentality involves four key principles:

  • Recognition
  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Non-attachment

How do these things make for a better work environment and more engaged employees? Let’s break it down.

Recognition

Recognition is about more than compensation for a job well done. It’s true that competitive pay and benefits are absolutely critical to attracting and retaining employees. But as most job seekers will tell you, there’s more to it than that.

Your employees want to be recognized, not just for their talent, but for who they are as people. If your organization looks at staff people and only sees a warm body, a checklist of skills, or an individual unit of production, your employees aren’t going to feel like truly valued members of the team. And you can bet cash money that their attitude, performance, productivity, and longevity will reflect those feelings.

Great leaders recognize accomplishments and individuals. They take the time to get to know their people, and invest in their personal and professional development. They also recognize that talent comes in all colors, genders, ages, and sizes, and they work hard to cultivate a diverse and welcoming environment.

This is the kind of environment that attracts people to an organization and makes them want to stay.

Awareness

Corporations may or may not be people, but they are certainly made up of people. And more and more employees are expecting them to act like good citizens.

Organizations who have not only defined their values, but consistently live by them, can set themselves apart from the competition, and not just when it comes to employees. This works with consumers as well.

  • Does your organization support causes that align with your values?
  • Do you pay living wages and treat your employees well?
  • Do you provide health benefits, vacation, and a safe, friendly working environment?
  • Do you invest in the communities where your employees live and work?
  • Does your company have a purpose beyond turning a profit?

Today’s employees are drawn to organizations that reflect their values back to them. More importantly, they have choices. And time and time again, they will choose to work for companies who are socially aware, and who demonstrate it on a regular basis.

Build an organization that cares and you will give your employees something to care about as well.

Interest

Job seekers are tired of impersonal processes. Spending hours to fill out online applications with nary a reply in sight. Being dragged through cookie cutter processes that leave no room for individuality. Suffering through employee rankings and robotic annual reviews. More and more employees are saying, “No, thank you!” to these things.

Of course you expect your employees and potential new hires to be interested in your industry and your organization. But it’s important to remember that interest is a two way street. Just like in any relationship, it can’t be all one-sided. You need to cultivate interest and curiosity on your end as well.

Inject some personality (and personalization!) into your interview processes. And once you’ve hired that new person, keep the momentum going with a comprehensive onboarding process that not only teaches them about your company, but allows fellow colleagues and managers to learn about them. Assign a work buddy or mentor to answer questions and help them get up to speed.

Once upon a time, many supervisors were fans of the sink or swim approach to management. In today’s job market, if you don’t show any interest in your job candidates and employees, they will definitely swim. Right to a new employer.

Non-attachment

This may seem like a strange concept based on everything we’ve just covered. Isn’t attachment a good thing? Doesn’t it promote positive relationships, employee engagement, and increased retention?

Yes and no.

Caring about your employees and investing in their success is beneficial to your business, and being intensely connected to your company culture, values, and vision is imperative. But getting too attached to any one person, process, or model can be dangerous.

The truth of the matter is that things change.

  • Markets change
  • Products change
  • Positions change
  • Technologies change
  • Consumer preferences change

In other words, organizational needs change.

If you’ve created a culture where fear of change is the rule, and letting old ways go is nearly impossible, you will eventually find yourself unable to adjust, adapt, or even keep up when that inevitable change occurs.

You’ve got be okay with letting go and moving forward.

Putting the right processes in place will help greatly. Take the time to develop your strategies and document your processes. Do some workforce and/or succession planning. Evaluate your contracts. Look into your insurance policies and risk management strategies.

Think of this as seismic work for your organization. Build a solid structure that also allows for maximum flexibility as things start shifting around.

Don’t let that inevitable shake up bring you down. Resist hanging on to any one person or thing too tightly. Be open to new ways of doing things, and new ideas to help you get where you need to go.

Recognize what’s happening in your organization. Be aware of it. Take an interest in it. And don’t get too attached to any one outcome.

In other words, bring on the RAIN.

 

Photo by  Jean-Marie Guyon

 5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook