Breakthrough ideas are typically the result of someone who was able to challenge conventional wisdom and think differently. Author Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates this in his newest book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.”
David’s victory over Goliath is widely accepted as a monumental victory for the underdog. David’s tactic of fighting from a distance with his sling changed the playing field.
Every industry has at least one, if not several, powerful companies with massive resources to win most any customer they decide to target. Is it possible that, like Goliath, they all have weaknesses that can be exploited? I believe this to be the case. But how can a smaller, less trained competitor be like David and turn the tables?
Change the field of battle
For years, the major auto companies have had the ability to build new electric vehicles, but they never focused on them because they didn’t believe the market would be large enough. As a result, they tried to modify their current vehicle platforms with hybrid or electric motors.
Yet in only a few short years, Tesla Motors has created a huge brand image and a market valuation that is already half that of Ford Motor Co. — even though Tesla’s current market share is less than 0.1 percent. The market currently values Tesla at $1 million per car, while General Motors Co. is valued at just more than $7,000!
Similar to David, Tesla refused to compete on GM and Ford’s terms and instead focused all its efforts on building the best electric cars available. Although sales are still small, Tesla has sold more electric cars than anyone else — despite its higher price tags.
Large companies sometimes ignore profitable opportunities
Large companies regularly dismiss new products and markets because these opportunities aren’t currently large enough to “move the needle,” or they may threaten to “cannibalize” their very profitable current businesses.
A classic example is Kodak. It didn’t pay attention to the introduction of the digital camera — mostly because early digital cameras weren’t very good. Yet this would not always be the case. Kodak decided to remain focused on its core film and camera business. In 2012, it declared bankruptcy and sold its valuable intellectual property.
Leverage the larger competitor’s assets against them
As successful companies grow, they make significant investments in plants, stores, technology platforms and other tangible and intangible assets. All these investments actually become barriers to change because they can tie a company’s success to certain ways of doing business with certain sets of customers.
In 1992, Fidelity dominated the IRA market. Fidelity and other major industry firms all charged about $22 per year to manage an IRA account. Charles Schwab was much smaller and decided to provide this service for free. Because Fidelity had so many accounts, it would have been very expensive for it to follow suit. As a result, Schwab added $2 billion in assets, and made money managing assets rather than by charging fees.
Similarly, Blockbuster had invested heavily in 3,400 brick-and-mortar stores by the time Netflix launched its DVD-by-mail service at a fixed monthly price. Blockbuster couldn’t create an alternative without cannibalizing its own store sales.
When we think about the large competitors that we all face, it’s difficult to not focus on their size and strength. However, if we view them as David saw Goliath, we can often find ways to topple them.
Paul Witkay is the founder and CEO of the Alliance of Chief Executives. Based in Northern California, the Alliance of CEOs is the most strategically valuable and innovative organization for leaders anywhere. The Alliance strives to provide the creative environments where breakthrough ideas happen. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
If you’re like most Americans, chances are that question has haunted you from adolescence to adulthood.
Which is a shame, because it’s a terrible question. It sends our vocational thinking down the wrong path — which might help explain why 70 percent of Americans are unhappy with their work, and why more than 2 million voluntarily quit their jobs each month, according to a recent Forbes article. And when you consider how much of our lives Americans dedicate to our jobs, being unhappy at work too often means being unhappy, period.
Clearly, we need to adopt a new way of looking at our own careers.
Discover your talent
Let’s begin with the basic fact that you, dear reader, are a genius. That doesn’t mean you’re the next Albert Einstein. You are a genius as the dictionary defines it: “Exceptionally creative or talented, either generally or in some particular respect.” That has to be true about you. You are a once-in-the-history-of-the-universe creation. You must be exceptionally talented in some particular respect. But in what respect, exactly?
That’s the question we ought to be posing to our children, and the one we should be asking ourselves. Not, “What job do you want to get?” but “What thing(s) are you really good at?” Not, “What do you want to be?” but, fundamentally, “What makes you you?”
Pursuing this introspective line of questioning is a soulful, exciting process that leads to greater peace, happiness and productivity.
The fearful may warn against indulging our individual exceptionalities because we have to pay the bills. There are only two ways to get rich in this life: winning the lottery (not too likely, alas) or delivering some unique value to the world. What more promising way to unearth unique value than via the particular respect in which you are exceptional?
I renewed this inquiry for myself not long ago, as I approached my 50th birthday. I am happier and more at peace for having done it — and I’m a better CEO, too. Because, just as the only way for a business to thrive is to differentiate itself from the pack, so too the only way we can thrive as business leaders is by understanding our own unique qualities. We can only produce the exceptional by understanding how we are exceptional.
So, here’s my challenge to you: Set aside the time to purposefully and deliberately explore what makes you exceptional. You won’t just be charting your course to personal fulfillment; you’ll be paving the way for creating value in the world. If you are unsure how to begin, pick up a copy of Todd Henry’s book, “Die Empty,” and do the exercises that resonate with you.
Unveil the new you
The New Year sparks the same desire in many of us: Be better, be different, be great. Instead of adopting a litany of resolutions designed to create a “new you,” resolve to reflect on the exceptional you that has existed all along. After a lifetime of striving to become what you think you’re supposed to be, let this be the year you define and celebrate the genius you naturally are.
Ask yourself the right questions:
- What am I good at?
- What makes me special?
- What makes me happy?
Finding those answers — and living them — are the only resolutions you’ll ever need.
Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of Branders.com, the world’s largest and lowest-priced online promotional products company. He can be reached at JerryMcLaughlin@branders.com.
Social networks in recent years have been the hottest marketing platforms discussed and used by companies all around the world. It has been a growing way to build a relationship and loyalty with the customer.
So, is your business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or all of the above? In doing so, have you left behind other crucial marketing elements?
Below are some critical marketing basics that still need to be done right for social networking to be effective.
Do you have a product that customers want?
Having a product or service that customers really want means that it has to offer something different from what is already available in the marketplace. The definition of “different” can range from different scent/color to a unique product that offers extra benefits. At the end of the day, the product must provide a key benefit that is unique and not offered today in the marketplace.
For example, customers were looking for a natural, healthier snack option to replace regular potato chips. Today, you find healthier snack alternatives in many stores. Another example of a unique product can include creating a need that customers didn’t even know they had. For example, I didn’t know I needed an Apple iPad until I started using one. Now I cannot live without it!
Is the price value right?
Once you have a great product idea, it is critical to set the right price to incent customers to purchase what the product is offering. One way is to set pricing relative to what your product is replacing that customers are already buying or what is currently in the marketplace. For instance, if you have just developed a delicious tasting, but healthier potato chip, you may want to price your product relative to other potato chips or snacks.
Setting pricing is one of the most important things to ensure a product takes off in the marketplace. It is also critical to ensure the pricing provides enough profit so you can spend sufficient marketing dollars to let customers know about this product and offer them incentives to try it.
How do you let everyone know about this great product?
This goes back to how customers learn about new products in your category segment. For beauty products, customers learn about new products from reading reviews by beauty editors from magazines, beauty bloggers and their friends. They also learn about new beauty products when they get a sample.
The key is to determine how best to reach your customers by understanding how they go about making purchase decisions for products like yours. Don’t assume social networks are the most important platform in launching any new product. It really depends on how your customers seek information for your type of product.
The bottom line is that social networks can be part of your toolkit to business success. It is just as important, however, to get the basics of your product offering right and really understand how your customers make purchasing decisions on your product type, even if social networks are one of the major ways. Don’t just assume social networks are the answer. Start with your product idea and the customer.
Joy Chen is CEO of Yes To Inc., a global leader in natural skin and hair care products made with fruits and vegetables. For more information, visit www.yestocarrots.com.
Supply chain events are increasingly showing up in business news, whether it’s regarding product shortages that cause customer dissatisfaction and lost opportunities for corporations, or breaches of laws or decency in the supply chain, such as the use of child labor or unsafe labor conditions that damage brand reputation.
From an executive standpoint, risk management through the supply chain has become a mandate. Front page exposure creates tense board room discussions and often dramatic same-day fluctuations in share prices.
What changed? With the global economy came global markets and global suppliers. Second, third and fourth tier suppliers are often in different parts of the world, subject to different regulations, and multi-channel or omni-channel strategies add complexity. Each new supplier, each tier of suppliers and each tier of customers add a heightened level of risk and thus an increased requirement for risk and compliance management.
Corporations are simply not ready for this challenge. So what actions should supply chain executives take?
- First, incorporate a risk assessment into the corporate supply chain strategy that again has been aligned with corporate goals, as well as customer goals. A corporation should start by making a detailed map of the supply chain and identify points of vulnerability. It should examine the viability of each supplier and transit route, and align with current and future customer requirements.
- Second, be proactive. A risk assessment not only identifies that there is a risk, it also reviews the severity of the risk and identifies contingency plans. For instance, having a single source supplier may be seen as a significant risk, but having two suppliers that have no spare capacity or cannot substitute for each other may be equally risky.
Being proactive also means identifying early indicators that risk may in fact be turning into reality. Big data analysis and the ability to discern key indicators of future problems are important to getting a jumpstart on fast resolution.
- Third, know the environment. Regulations influence almost every step in the supply chain and require real-time monitoring and auditing. Since regulations vary from country to country, a company with globally dispersed suppliers faces the herculean task of monitoring supplier compliance across multiple regulations.
- Fourth, think broadly of what constitutes the supply chain. Data integrity and availability are certainly part of the supply chain, as Apple realized recently when its servers overloaded with a release of a new operating system. Order sites, call centers, transportation networks, post-sales service, and reverse logistics are part of the supply chain.
- Fifth, build a corporate culture that is attuned to risk responsiveness. For a high-profile, public company, this means creating a culture of proactive risk management that extends to all stakeholders, internal and external. The board and CEO should communicate a clear message regarding the corporate policy on ethical issues.
Constant vigilance must be part of the corporate culture of risk detection and responsiveness. There will still be surprises, but early indicators and contingency plans will support fast mitigation.
Hannah Kain is the founder, president and CEO of ALOM, a leading global supply chain company headquartered in Fremont, Calif. For information, visit http://www.alom.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (440) 250-7026.
Businesses that don’t consider themselves likely targets of cybercrimes should think again.
Criminals view businesses as prime targets. According to a recent Internet Security Threat Report from information security firm Symantec, 31 percent of all targeted attacks are now directed at those with 250 employees or less, a threefold increase from 2011.
One reason smaller businesses are ideal targets is because they can be used to gain access to other companies. This common practice, when criminals seek alternate pathways to infiltrate larger institutions, is known as “spear phishing.”
Here are five tips that businesses can use to protect themselves.
Solidify your foundation
With a little research and some technical know-how, most business owners can take a number of steps themselves.
- Install a firewall to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your private network.
- Password-protect your Wi-Fi system. Encrypt your data.
- Back up business-critical information at an offsite location.
For more ideas, look at the Federal Communications Commission’s cybersecurity tip sheet. The FCC also offers the Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0, an online resource to help small businesses create cybersecurity plans.
Educate your employees
The National Cyber Security Alliance, a public education organization, provides a number of tips, including setting clear rules about what employees can install on their work computers and installing spam filters to prevent unwanted and/or harmful emails.
Track available access points
When all employees worked in a central location and used company-provided desktop computers, tracking and securing them was a much simpler task. Today, employees often use their own laptops and smartphones, opening employers to device risks and mobile application risks.
This “bring your own device” challenge may require a mobile device management plan that not only ensures the secure exchange of data between an employee’s device and the company’s systems, but also has the ability to track, control and wipe devices clean if lost.
Consider this fact from Lookout Inc., a mobile security company, when deciding: One in 10 people have had their cellphone stolen.
A typical mobile device management plan can also prevent applications from gaining access to information stored on users’ devices. Some malware steals credit card information and then signs people up for unwanted services. More serious versions may capture bank account access codes.
Invest in “security-as-a-service”
Until recently, the only way to monitor your company’s cybersecurity was to have a team of experts deploy a system onsite — an expensive endeavor. With the advent of cloud computing, businesses can benefit from greater economies of scale and streamlined delivery mechanisms, according to the Cloud Security Alliance.
You probably protect your company’s headquarters with guards, locks and closed-circuit cameras — how are you shielding your data?
Think about the impact on your business if your most valuable information was stolen. It could be trade secrets, formulas or other intellectual property. It could be customer data such as credit card or Social Security numbers. Or it could be the devastating leak of your financial reports or details of an upcoming acquisition.
Some insurance companies are selling so-called data compromise coverage to mitigate the impact of financial losses from data breaches. Given that some states require companies to notify individuals if their personal information is leaked, the reputation risk alone can damage your business. ●
Chris Hetterly is managing director of GE Capital’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Business. He has been a leader in technology debt finance since the sector’s earliest day, founding the Technology Industry Group for Wells Fargo and co-founding the Defense, Aerospace & Technology Group for Wachovia Securities before joining GE Capital in 2011. For more information, visit gecapital.com/tmt.
Connect with Chris Hetterly on LinkedIn http://linkd.in/19hOYsQ
Connect with GE Capital on Twitter @GELendLease
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 email@example.com or (440) 250-7056.