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Communication style conflicts can have a powerful effect on the activities within a corporation. When we communicate, we are either building or breaking down relationships with individuals who are part of our working teams.

In the business environment, management problems are more frequently interpersonal problems than anything else. If we can become more sensitive to the qualities that make up different styles of communication, we can work from our strengths rather than our weakneify our styles to be more effective with others — in other words, we can learn to “speak their language.”

Here are three key steps to increase your listeners receptively to your message. 

Preparation

  • Figure out the style and needs of the person you want to reach.
  • Consider timing and mood in terms of the other person’s navigating style.
  • Anticipate style conflict. When planning your delivery, think of the two or three most likely objections and prepare alternative ideas in keeping with the other person’s style.
  • Make certain that any materials such as memos or charts are consistent with the other person’s style.

 Presenting your ideas

  • Let the other person discuss the topic before you present your ideas. You may discover clues you’ve missed.
  • Present your ideas clearly and briefly. Be sure to use the mode with which your listener is most comfortable.
  • Answer questions using the kind of words that suit the other person’s navigating style.

 Coming to an agreement

  • Ask for the other person’s reaction. Watch for the clues to his or her style and the way the response is given.
  • If the reaction is negative, try to explore the other person’s point of view more fully. Don’t automatically assume you understand his or her thinking process; use open-ended questions.
  • Restate your listener’s views in your own words to be sure you understand the listener’s points to let him or her know how you understand those views.
  • Summarize the difference in your viewpoints. Try to explore options and alternatives together.
  • If the reaction is positive, discuss the next step so you both know what is going to happen.
  • Don’t oversell. When you’ve gained agreement, stop. Then leave and go on to another topic. Too much discussion can generate second thoughts with the person you’re trying to influence.

 Storms are common in the business environment. Conflicts in navigational style occur regularly as difficult issues arise that require resolution with other managers, subordinates and customers. While we can’t remove the issues, we can change the outcomes. We can change the way people relate to each other.

When we view interpersonal differences in terms of our different styles of communicating, we increase our chances of working together toward more productive ends. ●

 

Jay Nisberg is an internationally known management consultant recognized for his work in strategic planning and growth management with professional services firms and privately owned businesses. He is the author of the “Random House Handbook of Business Terms” as well as the “Random House Dictionary of Business Terms.” Nisberg is the longest active member of Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the Accounting Profession. He is the co-author of “Stratagem: Simple, Effective Strategic Planning for Your Business and Your Life,” published by Smart Business Network. Contact him at jaynisberg@snet.net

 

Sunday, 29 September 2013 09:15

Ron Antevy: Make your next tech project a winner

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Here is an alarming statistic — more than two-thirds of all technology projects fail. The rollout of new technology is a necessity in today’s business environment, where companies must innovate to grow and remain competitive, but how do you introduce technology into your business the right way?

How do you overcome the fear of change and of technology itself inherent in every rollout? How do you encourage people to use new technology, or better yet, how do you turn them into champions of the “new” way?

Here are strategies that we’ve seen work based on our own experiences implementing our construction management software for the last 20 years. 

Define success before you start

Articulating success can be difficult; however, you must define success and how you will measure it before you begin. There can be no uncertainty. You should also define success for each type of stakeholder. Success for the executive or technology buyer might mean quantifiable savings or headcount reduction. For the day-to-day users, success usually means something different — easier ways to accomplish tasks. It’s important to get input from everyone.  

We bring stakeholders together to define success. It’s not uncommon to hear unrealistic expectations, conflicting goals or outcomes that can’t be measured. These discussions turn into negotiations. Sometimes this process can be slow and painful, but take your time now so you can speed up later once you have a clear definition among the group.

Team members will walk to the end of the earth to achieve the goal when they are bought in completely, understand the goal and know what’s in it for them.

Take baby steps

When it comes to technology implementation, you can deploy in baby steps (phase-in technology over time) or with a big bang (do everything at once). The problem with the big bang approach is that most of the time all you get is an explosion. When given the choice, I am a big fan of baby steps.

In most cases the big bang approach actually takes longer — especially when it doesn’t work. My suggestion is to look at your new technology and your definition of success. Figure out the one thing you can do first and focus on getting that right. You will get a quick benefit, but more important, your team will have a win under their belt.

Minimize your risk

You can minimize your risks in a technology project by doing the following:

  • Over-communicate — The leader must communicate the plan and the benefits relentlessly. Celebrate the successes, even the small wins, to spread that winning feeling. Evangelize what you’re doing through formal and informal channels often.
  • Get the “Been There, Done That” software — Technologists love to describe features and share what they could do for your business. Instead, ask for lots of specific references of what they did in your industry. This reduces purchase risk and improves adoption when your users realize their peers use the same technology.

Most of this is just good organizational change management practice — but when it comes to technology, it’s even more important if you want a good outcome. ●

Ron Antevy is president and CEO of e-Builder, the first company to develop web-based capital program management and construction project management software. Under his leadership, e-Builder has consistently grown more than 30 percent a year since it was founded in 1998. For more information, visit www.e-builder.net.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronantevy
https://www.facebook.com/ron.antevy

Ron Antevy on Twitter: @rantevy

Google pay-per-click advertising is a great tool for building brand awareness and generating leads online.

It can be a bit complicated for some, but there are four things you should be doing for your PPC to reach its fullest potential. 

1. Organize keywords to target niche prospect groups

The difference between an ignored ad and an effective ad is its relevance. An ad for jewelry gets ignored when it appears in the search results of someone seeking remodeling services. The way you can make your ad the most relevant to prospects is by separating them according to the keywords they target and organizing them into groups.

The more thoroughly your keywords are organized, the more they will appear as if made specifically for the prospect.

Organizing your keywords does two things for your PPC: it makes your ads more relevant to prospects, and it increases your click-through rate.

These are the exact factors that also give you a high quality score for your ads. A high quality score gets you better ad locations on websites and better ranking for search ads. It also gives you a lower cost per click for your ads. Google is rating your ad on how helpful it is to your prospect, based on its relevance and click-through rate. 

2. Create consistency throughout your PPC process

The PPC process is composed of three steps: grab prospects’ attention with a relevant ad; direct them to a landing page that elaborates on what the ad offers; and present a special offer as an incentive for prospects to fill out a contact form.

From your ad to your offer, your PPC marketing message and design should feel continuous and cohesive. It shouldn’t feel like three steps. If your landing page looks different than the image ad that attracted the prospect, the user will experience disconnect.

At each step, build trust throughout the process, ultimately leading to the prospect filling out your contact form. That’s how you turn them into a lead. 

3. Optimize ads for phone responses

For most businesses, phone responses are a more valuable lead than those from contact forms, so it’s a great idea to optimize your ads to generate these calls. There are two ways to do this:

1. Make sure your number is displayed in all images and text ads.

2. Adjust your display times to only show ads when you’re in the office. This gives you the opportunity to get those calls and make the most of them when you’re open for business. Your phone responses don’t cost you anything. 

4. Use ad extensions

PPC ads have a small character limit, but luckily Google offers Ad Extensions. These give you the ability to present important marketing information without adding to your character limit.

Location Extension: Helps prospects find your office.

Product Extension: Shows pictures and prices of your products.

SiteLink Extension: Presents multiple pages from your website simultaneously.

Phone Number Extension: Adds a click-to-call number beneath your ad.

Social Media Extension: Shows how many +1s your Google+ page has.

Seller Rating Extension: Shows the rating your customers have given your company. (Google only shows it if it’s four or five stars.) 

Make sure you are taking advantage of every opportunity to improve your PPC efficacy. You’ll see the difference in your sales numbers. ●

 

Joy Gendusa is the founder and CEO of direct mail marketing firm, PostcardMania. She originally started the company in 1998. It now employs more than 200 people and has more than 53,000 customers in more than 350 industries. For more information, visit www.postcardmania.com.

 

Monday, 30 September 2013 08:00

Understanding your ‘natural instincts’

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The animal kingdom has long been instrumental in teaching children about appropriate behavior.

A rabbit named Peter educated us on the importance of conflict resolution. For better or worse, Curious George was habitually inquisitive and, in separate incidents, three bears and three pigs taught us the importance of home security.

But despite a literary reputation as “big” and “bad,” according to Jack Hanna, “A wolf will feed the sick, the old and the young first.”

That’s a pretty impressive character trait for a creature so often maligned by the human race. Over the years, however, we’ve learned to expect Hanna to set the record straight on an important part of our world that most of us will never experience firsthand.

 

Following the footsteps of a legend

Inspired by wildlife pioneer Marlin Perkins, Hanna parlayed a fascination with animals and a position leading the Columbus Zoo into a television empire spanning 30 years. He’s had countless TV appearances on popular shows such as “Good Morning America” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” In addition, he currently helms two television programs, “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown” and “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.”

Not surprisingly, Hanna’s high regard for the animal population is also reflected in his view of the public’s acceptance of the animal kingdom: “Most people who say they don’t like animals don’t like people much either.”

Phil Beuth, former president of “Good Morning America,” observes, “With Jack, what you see is what you get — he’s a genuine gentleman.”

Hanna has set a simple benchmark for appropriate professional behavior, “I operate by The Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Of course, humans are animals too — complete with instincts, genetic predispositions, unique skill sets and laws to keep us from acting like predatory animals. Yet, prey we do — leveraged buyouts, hostile takeovers, foreclosures, etc.

 

Comparing workforces of nature

When asked about lessons human worker bees can glean from the animal kingdom, Hanna enthusiastically says, “Just look at ants and termites. They each have specific jobs to do.” By performing specific tasks every day, these creatures work solely to serve the greater good — ostensibly without complaining.

Animals = 1 Humans = 0

Hanna also points to an innate respect in the wild that does not always translate into the land of the bipeds: “The animal world does not waste food and animals do not abuse their own children. For example, gorillas may fight but they still work together.”

Working through issues to achieve top performance is apparently part of the natural order of things. It’s about survival. As the concept of business survival has never been more prominent, shouldn’t cooperation receive equal billing?

Animals = 2 Humans = 0

Though Hanna also marvels at the mysteries behind the instinctual and highly effective way animals communicate, many in the office marvel at some people’s overwhelming lack of communication skills.

Animals = 3 Humans = 0

Specifically, according to Hanna, “The elephant is one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet.”

So yes, it seems that without the benefit of an iPhone, Twitter or Outlook, an elephant truly never forgets.

Time to hire me an elephant. The Laws of Nature win every time. ●

 

Speaker, writer and professional storyteller Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Fla. For more information, visit randallkennethjones.com.

Twitter: @randallkjones

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A marketing epidemic, to put it mildly, has been impacting most businesses — and it’s time to think about keeping your message simple if you haven’t already done so.

The roots of this epidemic can be traced back to two events.

First, during the economic fall of 2008, as businesses looked for ways to preserve revenue streams, companies hunkered down and focused on sales to preserve existing customers. Many cutoff or significantly reduced marketing budgets, and others shifted to digital media as a “low-cost alternative.”

The second event was the rapid spread of social media and the skyrocketing use of smartphones and tablets, which provide instant access to relationships, information and communication.

The social media craze and businesses’ desire to market on the cheap led companies to flood the marketing channels with content. Sales sheets, photos, videos, web pages — companies were suddenly all things to all people because they could push content to digital channels for “free.”

The problem — our marketing channels are now very noisy. As consumers of information, we respond to this noise with limited attention spans. The result — companies have sent confusing messages to the marketplace and people aren’t listening.

This current epidemic of marketing noise distributed across all channels leads to a common marketing need for all businesses — simplification.

 

Keeping it simple

So how do you achieve message simplification? It all ties back to the business. Here are seven steps to help get you started:

1. Identify three to four key business objectives for the next two years. Do you want regional growth or growth in a new industry? Do you want to sell more to existing customers?

2. Prioritize your objectives by placing dollars or number of opportunities next to them. This will help you focus on the most important areas.

3. Brainstorm a list of marketing tactics that can help you achieve each objective. Can you generate more leads from trade shows, your website, your existing customer list? What tactics do you need to adopt?

4. Write a succinct summary, or “elevator pitch.” This should be one to three sentences on how you benefit the people you are targeting in your objectives.

5. Compare your elevator pitch to your marketing tactics and existing materials. Review your website, brochures, email newsletter, social media accounts, videos, trade show collateral, etc. Notice how many “extra” things you say in an effort to cover all your bases.

6. Rework your message. Focus on the audiences for your key objectives. Identify the benefits for these audiences. Your marketing message should speak directly to these audiences so they can understand your value and usefulness to them.

7. Prioritize your marketing tactics. It’s tempting to be trendy and market on social media or through video, just remember to consider which tactics will best reach your audiences. You don’t need to be in every marketing channel, just the ones where your customers and prospects will hear you.

 

Finally, once you’ve simplified your message, stick to it! It is important so that people understand the benefits and value that you deliver. While it might seem repetitive to you, your audience will appreciate the clarity and with time, will remember what your business does best. ●

 

Kristy Amy is director of marketing strategy for SBN Interactive. Reach her at mailto:kamy@sbninteractive.com or (440) 250-7011.

Life has a way of presenting us with difficult circumstances. Sometimes it’s in our personal lives, and sometimes it’s in our business.

If the circumstance is severe enough, it can create a crisis, which can often cause a feeling of hopelessness. When things outside your control come at you in droves, it becomes difficult to cope with them. Entire organizations can be overwhelmed and pulled down by external circumstances, which if not dealt with promptly and correctly, can destroy the company.

The CEO’s role is to right the ship and rally everyone around a solution — and it most likely won’t be easy. People are always looking for the easy way out, but that path is rarely an option. When facing a difficult situation, you have to play the ball where it lies, which means the resources you have in people, dollars or equipment are all you may have to work with.

But challenges also present opportunities. Faced with a crisis, you and your leadership team will be forced to look at your assets in new ways. You’ll be required to take a careful look at your customer base, your market and your processes. This kind of in-depth evaluation may uncover not only a possible solution to your problem, but it may open your eyes to markets or applications you never considered before.

Take Netflix for example. The company was the king of DVD-by-mail, and had already knocked off the once mighty Blockbuster. With the increase in streaming video content, however, customers began moving away from DVDs, threatening Netflix’s main revenue channel. It reacted by creating not only streaming content, but also by creating its own unique content. Customers can stream video from many outlets, but it’s tough to beat Netflix’s reputation and ease of use.

Often, the resources you need are already at hand; they just need to be used in new ways. Netflix already had the capabilities; it just needed to apply them differently.

You may find that after assessing what you have, you have started to create a new path that leads away from the crisis.

At the beginning of a difficult time, you may not be able to see a way out, which can lead to despair. By starting with an initial step and continuing, however, you’ll soon see the light. Start by calling your bank or suppliers to ask for better terms or whatever it is you need, and then build from there.

No matter what you do, though, don’t compromise your integrity. Always do the right thing in the wrong circumstances, because depending on how severe your crisis is, your reputation might be the only thing you have to negotiate with.

If you work hard, do the right thing and stay positive, a solution will likely present itself. It may not always be in a form that you anticipated — you may need to change your products or your market — but if you keep an open mind and work with what you have, everything will work itself out. ●

Most weeks I get on a plane and attempt to have an out-of-body experience to deal with all the hassles of flying as I travel from point A to point B. When flying, I have a few simple rules. One, I almost never eat the food. Two, I attempt to talk to no one other than obligatory hellos. Three, I never argue with or say a cross word to flight attendants.

One other very important practice I follow on land, sea and especially in the air is that I constantly scan my surroundings for potential troubles and new ideas.

On a recent flight, upon boarding, I quietly and obediently proceeded to my assigned seat.

As I began to sit down, a gentleman asked if I would mind trading seats with him so that he could sit next to his wife. Like most seasoned travelers I try to accommodate reasonable requests. In this case it seemed a no-brainer to agree to move.

 

Notice the details

As I started to settle in and fasten my seat belt I noted that my new seatmate was very hot. No, it’s not what you’re thinking. I mean she seemed to be flushed and radiating heat, ostensibly from a high fever. I’m thinking, this is not good, plus it proves the age-old adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

In the next minute I had an epiphany, which happens frequently as I believe that many problems come disguised as opportunities.

I rang the call button and, when approached, asked the cabin attendant to please bring me two cloth napkins. I stated that the purpose was to construct a makeshift face mask by tying the two pieces together to prevent possibly contracting some dreaded disease.

I feared that my intentions could be misinterpreted if I were to don a mask without an explanation; this could cause a well-meaning passenger to drag me to the floor thinking I had nefarious motives.

The stewardess smiled, nodding approvingly of my plan. She then summoned all her co-attendants to my seat and proceeded to whisper what I was attempting. Otherwise, she explained, they, too, could misunderstand my appearance and cause me bodily harm.

As founder and CEO of Max-Wellness, a health and wellness retail and marketing chain, I’m always looking for that next special something to share with my team. Therefore, while burying my now masked face in a newspaper so as not to frighten or offend the sick seatmate, I began dictating a memo to my merchandise product group proudly asserting that I just had another “aha!” moment, for which I am well-known, among my colleagues. For full disclosure, however, I am sometimes known for being a bit “out there” on occasion — but no one bats a thousand.

 

Turn an idea into a product

This particular predicament gave me the idea to develop a product kit that we could sell to weary travelers in our stores and in airports. I suggested a handful of complementary products, including a mask, a disinfectant spray and, if all else fails, relief remedies. I also noted that it probably would be prudent to include a cigarette pack-type “Black Box” warning stating that the mask is not what some suspicious flyers might think, but instead it’s for prevention of disease only. I even proposed we market these kits directly to the airlines to dispense as an emergency prophylactic for passengers exposed to airborne (pun intended) pathogens.

 

Fleeting thoughts have value

A key role for business leaders is teaching a management team to use fleeting thoughts as a springboard, to pair common problems with sometimes-simple solutions.

Just because it is a simple fix, though, doesn’t mean the idea couldn’t be a lucrative breakthrough.

When something sparks an idea it needs to be taken to the next level before being pooh-poohed. Most likely the vast majority of these inspirations won’t see the light of day, but that’s OK. Just think — what if one transient idea translates into the next Post-it Notes, Kleenex or bottled water?

The next time you sit by a masked man on a plane, it most likely won’t be the Lone Ranger. Instead, you might be witnessing the incubation of the next best thing since sliced bread. ●

 

Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. “The Benevolent Dictator,” a book by Feuer that chronicles his step-by-step strategy to build business and create wealth, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Reach him with comments at mfeuer@max-wellness.com.

If you are like the majority of business executives, you prefer communications by email. But is it at any price? What about some ground rules for civility? 

A recent Google search of “email etiquette” resulted in a substantial number of entries — the majority with a spotlight on protocol for the sender. Call me naive, but shouldn’t the recipient behave responsibly too?  

Let’s face it; responding to most emails has become optional due to the absence of accountability and/or real human emotion. One could even say that email correspondence is the professional world’s high-tech version of hide and seek. 

However, many employees still spend an excessive amount of time waiting for mission-critical information to be returned via email — and time equals money. 

To all senders, nothing is more important than communicating clearly and succinctly. An email beginning with “let me be brief” followed by five full paragraphs is most likely going to fall victim to the Big D.

D-lete. 

The battle rages 

Of course, the war rages on between “buyers” and “sellers” — and email is a primary weapon. However, aren’t we all “selling” something? As all recipients are senders too, practically everyone has a story of woe regarding an unanswered email. 

Maybe I’m not as popular as I thought. As a test, I recently sent 25 individual emails requesting time to discuss this specific topic. In my mind, I had a relationship with each person; therefore, I “deserved” their time and attention. Right? 

Number of responses received = 2. 

Now, inbox fear has become so great it’s also safe to assume that some simply didn’t want to risk comment as that could become the technological equivalent of an “Open for Business” sign associated with their email address. 

Understandable. However, history has proven that we now live in a business world where, if we can’t put out someone’s fire today, we can’t get them fired up about tomorrow. Tragic. 

But the real question was, what response did I “deserve” versus what had I “earned?” 

Inbox outtakes 

First, before you get all hot under the white collar, don’t assume that every email arrives at its destination — so simple yet so oft forgotten. 

Second, understand that most executives report receipt of 300+ emails per day — it is not humanly possible to respond to each one. 

Of course, despite the clever gimmicks intended to make some solicitation emails appear personalized, most of us can tell the difference between a customized email and one sent en masse. For one, I can’t think of the last time I crafted a personal email that ended with an opt-out option. 

The bottom line is: senders should never expect a personal response to an impersonal email. Instead, focus should be paid to those situations where the sender has earned the right to receive a response. 

You don’t “deserve,” you “earn” 

Recipients, please consider these questions when evaluating a sender’s request: 

•           Do you have an established relationship of value?
•           Does the sender’s appeal fit your priorities?
•           Is the sender in a holding pattern waiting for you?
•           Is the sender following an agreed-upon “next step” in communication?
•           Has the sender demonstrated a possible benefit to you or, more importantly, your organization?
•           Finally, is the sender a potential customer? 

Lest you forget: the configuration of most email addresses includes your company or organization’s name — your precious brand. Like it or not, when a member of your team chooses to ignore an email, your company’s image may be taking a beating — one blown-off potential customer at a time. 

In reality, there is no single solution that will resolve this increasingly unmanageable issue. However, a little thoughtful consideration goes a long way. Simply put, please just think before you strike. 

Speaker, writer and professional storyteller Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Fla. For more information, go to randallkennethjones.com.

The late Ed Koch, a recent New York City mayor, always asked, “How am I doing?” Marketers — as well as government leaders — need to know if their “customers” are happy.

Perhaps you head the marketing operations for your company and want to get a better handle on customer metrics. You heard about the idea of a marketing dashboard at a recent trade association meeting and think that may solve your problem. How should you proceed? What should be on your dashboard? 

Progressing beyond a single item to monitor the effectiveness of business performance, leading organizations often use a set of key metrics called marketing dashboards to understand their key performance indicators.

Just as an automobile dashboard captures critical driving information such as speed, distance, fuel levels, vehicle and engine temperature, navigation and so on, a marketing dashboard summarizes pertinent information on branding, channels, customer contact, promotion, sales performance, service profitability, the Web and customer value. 

Consider the benefits

Some specific benefits of using dashboards include the following: business intelligence, trend tracking, measuring efficiencies or inefficiencies, real-time updates, visuals (charts, graphs, maps and tables), customized reporting of performance and aligning goals and strategies with results. Major downside considerations include the cost, time and the talent needed to administer marketing dashboards.

The main value of the dashboard framework is that it consists of a multitude of practical information that is current, accessible and easy-to-understand. Dashboards can be designed for top C-level executives as well as the managers working in the trenches.

The accompanying figure illustrates an example of an executive marketing dashboard. This dashboard features the following metrics: sales levels and growth targets, the decision-makers, exceptions, key accounts (including revenues), the marketing pipeline (status of marketing activities throughout the buying cycle), and tracks leads and dollars generated over an annual period. 

Decide what to measure

What should you measure? The spectrum of opinion varies widely from a single metric such as the Net Promoter Score to 50 or more performance indicators. Just as we don’t want to be overwhelmed with our automotive dashboard, keeping the marketing dashboard simple helps measure what matters and aligns with business objectives. That said, here’s a good starting point to consider in choosing five to 10 key performance indicators.

■  Financial measures: revenues, contribution margins, turnover ratios, profitability

■  Competitive measures: market share, advertising/promotional budget, image map

■  Consumer behavior: market penetration, customer loyalty, new customers

■  Consumer intermediate measures: brand recognition, customer satisfaction, purchase intention

■  Direct customer measures: distribution level, intermediary profits, service quality

■  Innovativeness measures: new products launched and the percentage of annual revenue from these new products

■  Customer value measures: process metrics, customer retention rates, customer lifetime value, RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) 

Realize that doing business today requires a new level of accountability for performance. Superior customer value means knowing customers’ behaviors and buying patterns.

Metrics are an important part of the strategic marketing process to understand: 1. How successful the organization is now. 2. What it needs to accomplish to become even more successful in the years ahead.

Smart marketing managers will embrace this challenge and use metrics as a planning tool to improve business strategies.

Art Weinstein, Ph.D., is chair and professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University and author of “Superior Customer Value: Strategies for Winning and Retaining Customers.” He may be reached at art@huizenga.nova.edu or (954) 262-5097. For more information, visit his website at www.artweinstein.com.

 

 

"Business Class" by Randall Kenneth Jones

If you are like the majority of business executives, you prefer communications by email. But is it at any price? What about some ground rules for civility?

A recent Google search of “email etiquette” resulted in a substantial number of entries — the majority with a spotlight on protocol for the sender. Call me naive, but shouldn’t the recipient behave responsibly too?

Let’s face it; responding to most emails has become optional due to the absence of accountability and/or real human emotion. One could even say that email correspondence is the professional world’s high-tech version of hide and seek.

However, many employees still spend an excessive amount of time waiting for mission-critical information to be returned via email — and time equals money.

 To all senders, nothing is more important than communicating clearly and succinctly. An email beginning with “let me be brief” followed by five full paragraphs is most likely going to fall victim to the Big D — Delete. 

The battle rages

Of course, the war rages on between “buyers” and “sellers” — with email being a primary weapon. However, aren’t we all “selling” something? As all recipients are senders too, practically everyone has a story of woe regarding an unanswered email.

Maybe I’m not as popular as I thought. As a test, I recently sent 25 individual emails requesting time to discuss this specific topic. In my mind, I had a relationship with each person; therefore, I “deserved” their time and attention. Right?

Number of responses received ­— two.

Now, inbox fear has become so great it’s also safe to assume that some simply didn’t want to risk comment as that could become the technological equivalent of an “Open for Business” sign associated with their email address.

Understandable. However, history has proven that we now live in a business world where, if we can’t put out someone’s fire today, we can’t get him or her fired up about tomorrow. Tragic.

But the real question was, what response did I “deserve” versus what had I “earned?” 

Inbox outtakes

First, before you get all hot under the white collar, don’t assume that every email arrives at its destination — so simple yet so oft forgotten.

Second, understand that most executives report receipt of 300-plus emails per day — it is not humanly possible to respond to each one.

Of course, despite the clever gimmicks intended to make some solicitation emails appear personalized, most of us can tell the difference between a customized email and one sent en masse. For one, I can’t think of the last time I crafted a personal email that ended with an opt-out option.

The bottom line: senders should never expect a personal response to an impersonal email. Instead, focus should be paid to those situations where the sender has earned the right to receive a response.

You don’t “deserve,” you “earn”

Recipients, please consider these questions when evaluating a sender’s request:

■  Do you have an established relationship of value?

■  Does the sender’s appeal fit your priorities?

■  Is the sender in a holding pattern waiting for you?

■  Is the sender following an agreed-upon “next step” in communication?

■  Has the sender demonstrated a possible benefit to you or, more importantly, your organization?

■  Is the sender a potential customer? 

Lest you forget: the configuration of most email addresses includes your company or organization’s name — your precious brand. Like it or not, when a member of your team chooses to ignore an email, your company’s image may be taking a beating — one blown-off potential customer at a time.

In reality, there is no single solution that will resolve this increasingly unmanageable issue. However, a little thoughtful consideration goes a long way. Simply put, please just think before you strike. 

Speaker, writer and professional storyteller Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Fla. For more information, visit randallkennethjones.com.

 

 

 

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