The era of cubicles and water coolers is coming to an end.
As businesses adapt to the increasingly specific needs of today’s consumer, the office environment is also evolving to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the startup tech industry and co-working world.
The current generation of tech-savvy entrepreneurs is seeking environments that accommodate a highly competitive yet creative lifestyle, with the least economic impact on their company. They’re working 24/7 for their startup so they chafe at the constraints of a 9-to-5 workweek.
Instead of renting offices, they’re embracing the hottest trend in business: co-working spaces.
A co-working space is an open-access, turnkey environment designed to be an affordable office alternative for startups, freelancers and other independent workers. Worldwide, it’s estimated that there are nearly 2,500 co-working spaces as of early 2013, up 83 percent from the year before.
They serve nearly 110,000 workers and approximately 245 new people join a co-working space each day.
So why are co-working spaces poised to replace the traditional office?
Co-working culture fits today’s creative entrepreneurial lifestyle
Step inside a co-working space and it’s hard to avoid a creative contact high. By bringing together a diverse community of business innovators and creative talent like designers and developers, co-working spaces are a hub of inspiration.
Most co-working spaces host special events where members can share their experience and skills. It’s a perfect environment for young startup entrepreneurs to network, practice their VC pitches or collaborate on new projects.
Deskmag, an online journal about co-working spaces and co-working culture, surveyed workers who reported significant increases in productivity and morale since joining a co-working space. While 71 percent of those surveyed said they felt more creative, 90 percent felt more confident and 70 percent told Deskmag that co-working even made them feel healthier!
Co-working makes more financial sense for startups and small businesses
When you’re starting a business, every penny counts. Renting a traditional office space means security deposits, insurance, utilities and other setup fees — not to mention the cost of furnishings. This can be a tremendous barrier to entry, especially for startups at the critical pre-seed development stage.
A co-working space essentially provides an instant office for the price of two cups of coffee a day. Deskmag estimates the average cost of a flexible (or “hot”) desk at a co-working space in the U.S., is just $195 a month. Memberships generally include everything entrepreneurs and independent workers need, like conference rooms and WiFi.
Additionally, co-working spaces tend to be strategically located in a city’s major industry center, allowing convenient access for members as well as potential clients or investors.
Co-working spaces will make offices obsolete
By 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 65 million Americans will be independent contractors or solo entrepreneurs — that’s about 40 percent of the workforce. Co-working spaces are already anticipating this shift. Soon, freelancers and tech startups won’t be the only ones abandoning traditional offices for co-working.
With their economic, social and creative live/work advantages, co-working spaces will dominate the business landscape in the next decade. If you’re starting a business, start co-working.
Lin Miao is the founder of Be Great Partners. After selling his first company for $60 million at age 24, Miao launched Be Great Partners and currently serves as the company’s CEO. For more information, visit www.begreat.co.
The odds are not in your favor when it comes to breaking out and becoming the next shining star.
To make it happen, you need to use every tool in your arsenal. I’ve come up with a checklist that I’ve used to create five successful brands, including my own, in the food/culinary/hospitality industry space.
Side note: The hardest part about being successful is balancing confidence with arrogance. The latter usually causes one to look at the brand with unrealistic goggles. But without confidence, most don’t have the guts to take the long, hard steps necessary to be successful. Be cautiously optimistic, but realistic about your brand. And consider whether these three steps can help you determine the difference between success and failure.
What’s the opportunity? What's your niche?
Always ask, “What is the opportunity?” Is there a need for this brand I am creating? For me, I saw early on that there weren’t that many chefs regarded as the national voice for Asian food. That told me there was a need, because Asian food will always be very popular at every level. At the same time, I would not be a needle in a stack of needles. There are tons of American, European and even Latin cuisine chefs, but very few Asian-American chefs.
Are you authentic? What do you stand for?
Consumers want brands that they trust, that are authentic and have a story. People inherently want to support great brands. The story of the brand is almost as important as the offering itself. It creates an emotional tie and aids in the consumer’s desire to support the brand. Once I analyzed the market and saw the opportunity for my brand, I took a look back at my story.
I was the son of the “first Thai food family” in America, from humble beginnings/raised by hardworking immigrant parents who helped to create and establish the Thai food industry.
Everything about lineage made sense to be the spokesperson for Thai food in America. My Chinese ethnicity also made sense to talk and teach about Chinese food. So I went to some journalist friends to put my story on paper, creating bios and refreshing them as necessary.
What can you do to gain a competitive advantage?
Like writing any good business plan, it’s important to go through the exercise of analyzing your competitive set. Know who else is out there doing what you want to do. Are they doing it better? You better hope not.
Quantify your findings and put them on paper. Get a factual sense of how your brand compares. That will also help you realize what your competitive advantages are. Or they could help cultivate ideas on how to gain the competitive advantage.
With all my brands, I’m constantly monitoring my competitive set and identifying strengths and weaknesses. The flipside to this is also simultaneously monitoring consumers’ needs. Ten years ago fusion was the trend, and now it’s all about micro-regional cuisine and authenticity. If I never monitored the competitive set and the changing consumer landscape, I could have faded out of popularity.
There are a lot of intricacies to creating successful brands. It takes hard work and thousands of decisions, but it always begins with these three questions.
Jet Tila is a world-renowned chef and entrepreneur. He has been called the country’s first “Thai Culinary Ambassador.” Tila has been featured on the Food Network and in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He also holds five Guinness World Records. For more information, visit www.chefjet.com.
It was Daymond John, CEO of FUBU and an investor on the ABC reality TV series “Shark Tank,” who famously said, “An entrepreneur must pitch a potential investor for what the company is worth as well as sell the dream on how much of a profit can be made.”
But no amount of passion from an entrepreneur, or even an established business owner, can fully quell the nerves that come with pitching before a group of investors. Everything from the length of the PowerPoint presentation to what you wear is heavily scrutinized, and there is no guarantee that every business will receive funding on the first pitch.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to pitching, so before you go in for the final presentation, focus on prepping yourself in the following four areas.
Keep it short and sweet
This applies to every aspect of your presentation. From your elevator pitch — one minute, maximum — to the PowerPoint presentation you’ve prepared. While it’s important to get investors to notice the problems your business can solve or the needs it will meet, adding tons of detail clutters and hurries the pitch. Keep it simple, clean and straight to the point.
As well-known entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” investor Mark Cuban told The Washington Post, “When it comes to business, there is a simple scorecard. Are you making money or are you not making money? Are you succeeding or are you not? So when you go to raise money, always, always catch yourself and eliminate the backstory.”
Don’t over-disclose upfront
Knowing the financial figures behind your business is important, but there’s no need to share all of your exact numbers at the outset. Instead, show a commitment to metrics and analytics.
Investor Mark Cohen says that while measuring metrics is not easy to do, it’s important to believe in the value of what the metrics will reveal and be willing to adapt to what is uncovered.
Be specific about your strategies
As mentioned before, entrepreneurs need to be in tune with the problem their business is solving or the needs it is meeting. Prep your strategies beforehand and know what you’re working on today and how you anticipate growth in the future. It’s also important to know your market and customer base and what they think of the product or service — specifically if they recognize that your company is solving a problem for them that they would be willing to pay for.
The average window for a pitch meeting with investors is about 10 to 15 minutes. So once you’ve confidently and passionately knocked out the “three magical P’s,” which according to investment banker Gary Spirer including people, product and potential, it’s time to ask questions of your own.
What is the investor’s specific investment strategy? How does the investor typically structure investment in a company? Is the investor focused on a particular industry, business size and/or growth rate? How does the investor get involved in the business after an investment?
Remember that once the pitch is over the only bad question to ask is no question. So be sure to grill your potential investors!
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com, a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark and copyright filing services. For more information, please visit www.mycorporation.com or follow on Twitter at @MyCorporation
After 50 years working with a range of companies — as well as founding and running my own company, J.D. Power and Associates — I have learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in business.
The businesses I’ve seen grow, adapt and thrive are the ones that keep a focus on satisfying customers. They listen to customers, anticipate their needs and desires, and maintain these traits as core principles for how the business should operate.
Whether I’m speaking with business school students or seasoned executives, I focus on five basic lessons that have been helpful to me and to others I have observed throughout my business career.
Take the time to listen
I have witnessed too many companies move further away from achieving satisfied customers by refusing to listen to them.
Back in the 1980s, Peugeot was trying to expand its share of the American car market but was unwilling to listen to customer complaints about difficulties starting the company’s advanced fuel-injected cars. Customers saw this as a quality issue, but Peugeot held fast, confident that fuel injection was superior from an engineering standpoint.
No doubt Peugeot was right, but by not listening and adapting to customers, those customers were lost. By the early 1990s, Peugeot had abandoned the American market.
Remember who the client is
In a B2B world, it is the organization or business you serve, not just the man or woman sitting across from you. This is important from two perspectives. It is critical that you not serve the desires of the representative assigned to work with you to the disservice of the organization.
On the flip side, you must feel empowered to not let that person become an obstacle to the organization receiving the information necessary to take full advantage of your services.
Relationships are what life and business are all about. They need to be built on a foundation of respect and trust, not just friendship. I never approached business relationships as requiring glad-handing or wining and dining. In the beginning, I simply couldn’t afford it.
As J.D. Power’s success widened, I found that true relationships with executives came from providing them with the clear, actionable information they needed to do their jobs, not time on the golf course.
Be willing to alter your point of view
Don’t be afraid to take a counterintuitive position in order to generate better ideas. The Jesuit education I received at the College of the Holy Cross provided a basis in questioning the status quo, a trait that has served me well.
Don’t “torture the data till it confesses”
Don’t be blind to all but the good news you may want to hear. Consciously or subconsciously interpreting information that comes across your desk in a way that supports past decisions, rather than illuminates needed improvement, is shortsighted. It won’t bring you closer to the satisfied customers who will ultimately dictate your success.
Dave Power is the founder of J.D. Power and Associates, a global market research company based in Westlake Village, Calif. The book about his 50 years in the auto industry, “Power: How J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry’s Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History” is now available. For more information, visit
It’s often easier to put a lot of time and effort into planning for the big problems that can afflict a business. What if our network crashes? What if the big storm knocks out our power for a week? What if something happens to you, the CEO? While it may be easier to come up with these more dramatic scenarios that can hurt your organization, there are a number of seemingly smaller snags that can cause big problems for any business that isn’t prepared.
A failure to adequately implement a budget leads to a demand for operating cash. The following are questions to help identify preventive measures to mitigate cash flow problems:
- Is your product or service seasonal? If yes, do you have a plan to generate cash during the slow season?
- Do you offer discounts to encourage early payment of account receivables?
- Are your suppliers allowing you additional time to pay for invoices?
If you fall behind on a solid maintenance program, you could face problems with your equipment.
- Do you have regularly scheduled maintenance to maintain equipment?
- Did you purchase a maintenance agreement?
- Do you have a record of recurring problems?
- Do you know the estimated life of the equipment?
- Do you have a plan for a temporary exchange while your equipment is out for repair?
Out of stock inventory
This is a problem caused by poor accounting and unprepared procurement personnel. Here are some questions to help avoid this predicament:
- Do you compare your inventory level to your sales?
- Can you obtain your materials and supplies from more than one source?
- How long does it take suppliers to ship your order?
- Do you have a local supplier for your most important materials?
- Do you accept back orders?
- Are suppliers aware of your ordering policy?
- Do you have someone in your office assigned to follow up on outstanding purchases and inventory control?
It is not unusual for an occasional decline in sales during a business cycle. When your industry is experiencing increased sales with a similar product and yours is at a decline, however, it may be time to examine the interpersonal relationship between your sales personnel and customers.
The decline may be due to customers’ dissatisfaction with your salesperson. Remember that customers see your salesperson as “the company.” Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you provide support for your sales force and offer professional development for sales managers?
- Who trains new managers?
- Do you have plans for outside consultants to conduct an interpersonal skills in-house workshop?
Dwindling repeat business
Repeat customers are essential to sustain a business. Dwindling repeat business is a human problem, not necessarily a product issue. Here are some things to look at to help you understand why numbers are going in the wrong direction:
- Do you have a new manager?
- Did you alter your hours of operation?
- Is your staff treating customers with respect?
- What is your return policy?
John O. Alizor, Ph.D. is the founder and president Leadership Forensics Business Inc., and author of “Leadership: Understanding Theory, Style and Practice.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (562) 628-5570.
The idea of driving aimlessly seems glamorous in movies and songs. In reality, few of us get in a car without knowing how to reach our destination. We’ve created smartphone apps, GPS devices and satellite mapping to make our trips as efficient as possible and to avoid what we know to be an inconvenient, expensive outcome — getting lost.
I bring up this idea because many companies using social media have inadvertently become lost drivers. They start using social platforms with the goal of reaching some number of likes, retweets or shares, but as they embark on their social media strategies, many experience a disconnect between the content they post, blog and tweet and their progress on measurable business goals. These companies are driving without a roadmap; they just don’t know it.
Sound familiar? If social media isn’t working for you, your social media approaches may be missing a fundamental component: an effective content strategy. Here are three ways a solid content strategy will enhance your company’s social media success.
A like is just a like
All social media engagement is not created equally. To be successful, the social media activity that you generate needs to support your marketing goals — whether you want to improve employee engagement, boost customer conversions or build interest in a new product.
Creating a content strategy before you engage in social media will help your business clarify the specific marketing goals you want to achieve through content, as well as what messages you need to communicate to reach those goals. This process will ensure you get the right likes, shares and retweets from social interactions.
Social is a vehicle
Social media is a vehicle for sharing compelling content with your audience, and it doesn’t work if you don’t know what issues, topics and trends your audience finds compelling. Part of developing a content strategy involves learning how those you are trying to reach want to be talked to. Where do they go for information? How much time do they spend online? What kind of content are they looking for from your industry?
By getting to know the interests and pain points of your audience (customers, employees, shareholders, etc.), you can develop tactics to reach your online audience more effectively, saving you time and enhancing your company’s social influence.
Relevant content is meaningful
Kings of social content don’t become that way by luck. They use strategic tactics to connect with their audience through the right channels at the right times. More importantly, they make these connections meaningful and memorable by posting and sharing strategic, relevant content that their audiences desire.
When you deliver social content that your audience members find valuable or interesting, they’ll reward you by sharing your content, engaging with your business and, ideally, helping to promote your reputation as a thought leader in your business or industry. A content strategy allows you to do that by providing a roadmap for what kinds of informative, helpful, educational or creative content you need to make meaningful interactions.
As a recent Huffington Post article put it, the golden rule of the web is clear: “To know us better is to sell us better.” Ultimately, being successful in the social media space means taking the time to map out what success looks like. In this sense, a solid content strategy is not only an important component of any social media strategy, it’s the key to driving the results your business wants.
Michael Marzec is chief strategy officer of Smart Business and SBN Interactive. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7078.
When Albert “Chainsaw Al” Dunlap was the CEO at Sunbeam in the late ’90s, he had a reputation for ruthlessness. Besides massively downsizing the company, he was also known to intimidate everyone around him and resort to yelling and fist pounding.
While extreme, Dunlap’s behavior is an example of the type of “dictator” leadership that used to be fairly common in the C-suite. Rules were rules, there were no exceptions for anything and people were just a line item on a budget. Need to cut thousands of jobs? Don’t think twice about it.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Christ-like leader. This leader focuses more on building people up rather than tearing them down. This type of leader understands that there are rules, but sometimes to do the right thing, the rules need to be broken. For example, during the economic downturn, some Christ-like leaders went well beyond what was called for to make sure laid-off employees were taken care of.
They made sure they had the use of office resources to look for a new job and did everything they could to lessen the hardships. They weren’t required to do this; it was just the right thing to do. They saw employees as human, not just numbers on a spreadsheet.
Does it cost money to take the more humane route with your leadership? Yes and no. From a short-term, bottom-line perspective, it probably does cost a few more dollars to help people through a hardship. But long term, it can pay dividends. By treating people with respect and doing the right thing, it helps eliminate animosity toward you and your company from both the ex-employees and current ones. Maybe there are some good employees who you wanted to keep, but couldn’t afford. By showing compassion, when the economy turned around, they were far more likely to consider coming back than if they had just been shown the door with little regard to their well-being.
And what happens when these ex-employees end up in key positions in companies that could be customers? Do you think an ex-employee who you mistreated is going to buy anything from you or recommend your company to someone? It’s a small world, and what goes around often comes around, so it’s always best to treat people as best you can.
You can lead like a dictator and still get results. But do the ends justify the means? Will you conquer all, only to find yourself alone with no friends, the equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol?” Or will you have an epiphany and realize there’s a better way to do things?
During this holiday season, think about your leadership style and the long-term effect it has on people’s lives. If this exercise makes you uncomfortable, then maybe it’s time to change how you lead. ●
What would it take for a company to succeed if its leader could effectively do only one of the following: innovate, instigate or administrate? We all know that an innovator is the one who sees things that aren’t and asks why not? The instigator sees things that are and asks why? The administrator doesn’t necessarily ask profound questions but, instead, is dogged about crossing the “t’s,” dotting the “i’s” and making sure that whatever is supposed to happen happens.
Ideally, a top leader combines all three traits while being charismatic, intellectual, pragmatic and able to make decisions faster than a speeding bullet. Although some of us might fantasize that we are Superman or Superwoman, with a sense of exaggerated omnipotence, the bubble usually bursts when we’re confronted simultaneously with multiple situations that require the versatility of a Swiss army knife.
Business leaders come in all shapes and sizes with various skill sets and styles that are invaluable, depending on the priorities of a company at any given point in time.
Every business needs an innovator to differentiate the company. Without a unique something or other, there isn’t a compelling reason to exist. Once those special products or services that distinguish the business from others are discovered and in place, it takes an instigator to continuously re-examine and challenge every aspect of the business that leads to continued improvements, both functionally and economically. It also takes an administrator — someone who can keep all the balls in the air, ensuring that everyone in the organization is in sync and delivering the finished products as promised to keep customers coming back.
As politicians and pundits of all types have pounded into our heads in recent years, “It takes a village to raise a child.” All who practice the art and science of business have learned that, instead of a village, it takes a diverse team working together to make one plus one equal three.
On the ideal team, each member possesses different strengths, contributing to the greater good. The exceptional leader is best when he or she is an effective chef who knows how to mix the different skills together to create a winning recipe.
In many companies, however, leaders tend to surround themselves with clones who share similar abilities, interests and backgrounds. As an example, a manufacturer may have a management team comprised solely of engineers, or a marketing organization could have salespeople who came up through the ranks calling all the shots.
If everyone in an organization comes from the same mold, what tends to happen is, figuratively, one lies and the others swear to it. This builds to a crescendo of complacency and perpetual mediocrity.
There is a better way. Good leaders surround themselves with others who complement their capabilities, and savvy leaders select those with dramatically different backgrounds who will challenge their thinking because they’re not carbon copies of the boss. This opens new horizons, forges breakthroughs and leads to optimal daily performance.
Strange bedfellows can stimulate, nudge and keep each other moving toward the previously unexplored.
To have a sustainable and effective organization, you can’t have one type without all the others. While everyone on the team may not always agree, each player must always be committed to making the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
The single most important skill of the leader who has to pull all the pieces and parts together is to have the versatility of that Swiss army knife — selecting the precise tool to accomplish the objective at hand. ●
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 800 years ago, medieval philosopher Maimonides outlined eight levels of charity, the greatest of which was supporting an individual in such a way that he or she becomes independent. In Maimonides’ view, support was defined as a gift or loan, entering into a partnership or simply helping that person find employment.
Few things are more powerful than philanthropy — especially when its end goal is to better the lives of others. These days, philanthropy, and corporate philanthropy specifically, has assumed a broader role in society.
Today, companies give back more strategically than ever before. They align themselves with nonprofits that foster missions they believe in. The wealthiest people on the planet have even coordinated the Giving Pledge (www.givingpledge.org), where they’ve committed to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
At last count, more than 115 people had taken the pledge. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates may be the most prominent names on the list, but others include Spanx Founder Sara Blakely, Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert, Progressive’s Peter Lewis and Netflix Founder Reed Hastings.
Last month, one member, David Rubenstein, CEO and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, discussed the importance of philanthropy during a presentation at EY’s 2013 Strategic Growth Forum.
In his pledge letter, Rubenstein explains why: “I recognize to have any significant impact on an organization or cause, one must concentrate resources, and make transformative gifts — and to be involved in making certain those gifts actually transform in a positive way.”
One way Rubenstein is being transformative is through “Patriotic Philanthropy.” He has given $10 million to help restore President Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home and underwrote renovations to the historic Washington Monument. Yet Rubenstein’s most noteworthy initiative is the whopping $23 million to acquire a rare copy of the Magna Carta, ensuring it remained in the United States. After its purchase, Rubenstein gifted it to the National Archives.
Not everyone has Rubenstein’s vast resources. But every organization and any individual can make their own impact.
In the workplace, for example, organizations that give back elevate their status perception-wise among competitors and peers. It doesn’t take much. But by being a company that cares, prospective employees want to work for you. For your existing team, deliberate and well-organized corporate philanthropy programs quickly take on a life of their own, becoming a rallying point.
Think strategically and get started by finding your cause. We all have them. They exist at our very core, forming the belief system we live by every day. So why shouldn’t our philanthropy follow that same course? Consider aligning your giving or volunteerism with something you personally believe in or care about; something that fits with what your company does or something that is close to your employees’ hearts.
Most important, get involved and just make a difference. It really comes down to that. One initiative that has always impressed me has been the annual CreateAthon event undertaken by WhiteSpace Creative, a member of the Pillar Award class of 2005. You can read a first-hand account of this year’s program here.
Being a good corporate citizen goes well beyond making good business sense. When you align yourself with causes you care about, whether big or small, you make a difference in someone’s life. And the bottom line is this: It is all of our duties to get involved. It’s no longer a question of if, but rather of what, when and how. ●
Dustin S. Klein is publisher and vice president of operations for Smart Business. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7026.
Consider this business scenario: You’ve landed a big account for your company by converting a highly prized prospect into a valuable client. The new client has hired you to handle a specific scope of work and is counting on your team’s ability to deliver work that goes above and beyond.
While nothing is more important than delivering great customer service to satisfy the client, you may not realize that you’re probably overlooking unrealized opportunities to forge a stronger relationship with your customer.
In today’s business landscape, most large companies offer an array of products and services. More often than not, however, your clients use you for a specific service or skill set. And unfortunately, in this scenario, most companies focus solely on the task at hand — delivering what they’ve been contracted to deliver — failing to take ample time to think about the bond they’re creating with the client and what could be next.
In more simple terms, it is one thing to provide service that keeps a customer; it is another to keep that customer and expand the relationship to become a trusted partner.
Provide value in a deliberate way
The good news is that this is an easy fix. Establish a content marketing program that allows you to distribute thought leadership to your clients.
A content marketing program will help you provide value that other service providers may not, and when clients see you as an informational resource and partner, it will be easier to expand the relationship.
Take this example into consideration: You are an insurance provider and your main product is life insurance, therefore most of the communication you have with your clients surrounds that topic.
With a comprehensive content marketing program in place, however, you can educate your clients on the recent trends in the insurance industry and how that affects the individual. At the same time, you can give them an overview of your company’s wellness program and let them know that if they joined, they could reduce their monthly premiums.
As you can see, you’re not just providing your client with the original service, you’re also providing them with both your thought leadership — aka value — and additional offerings.
Personal connections payoff
Aside from providing value to the client with the content you distribute, a strong content marketing program allows you to showcase your brand’s personality. Clients will be able to connect with your brand on a more personal level.
Providing continually updated content through the right channels to the right clients enhances your day-to-day communications. Clients start seeing you as thought leaders and partners instead of just service providers.
It will help you expand relationships and, as a result, generate new business through more products and services.
Show them more than just what they see on the surface — show them how active you are in the community, or how much fun you had during a recent company outing. If may sound trivial, but your clients do similar things, and seeing you connect with the community and/or employees will help forge a more personal connection. You never know; you and your client may support the same charity, organization or team.
Open communication also will help strengthen relationships to the point where you can capture a premium price and eliminate price-jumping clients. Clients will pay more for a valuable relationship than simply look to get the lowest price elsewhere. ●
David Fazekas is vice president of marketing services for SBN Interactive. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 250-7056.