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September 2014

Predicting the future

Rowena (Ro) Crosbie is the president of Tero International Inc.

Employees look to their leaders to paint an inspiring picture of the future.  How good are your predictions about the future?  How open are you to unforeseen changes?  How confident are you in your forecasts? Future_leadership

Following are actual quotes taken from a university marketing textbook.

Can you guess who made these now-famous blunders forever recorded in history? (Correct answers follow).

  1. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” 
  2. “This Telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.  The device is inherently of no value to us.”
  3. “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value.  Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
  4. “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.”
  5. “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
  6. “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
  7. “Can’t act.  Slightly bald.  Can dance a little.”

  Answer Key:

  1. Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM 1943.
  2. Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  3. David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urging for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
  4. A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith went on to found Federal Express).
  5. H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
  6. Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
  7. 1933 memo from MGM testing director about Fred Astaire’s first screen test.  (Astaire kept that memo over the fireplace in his Beverly Hills home).

 


 

Distracted driving doesn’t just happen in a car

 Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place.

 

Anyone who drives a car has had it happen to them. Take your mind off your driving, your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel for even a moment and trouble happens fast. If you’re lucky, you narrowly avoid disaster. If not, you can end up in a serious crash.

 

Distracted driving doesn’t just happen in your car. When it comes to guiding a company, especially a small retail business, bad things can happen fast when you take your mind, eyes or hands off your operations.

 

Whether in your car or in your business, the first step has always been the same: You have to know where you’re going to know to be headed in the right direction.
 
Your company must have clear monthly, annual and long-term goals or you might as well be going around in circles. If you don’t have well-defined goals or haven’t looked at them in a while, take some time this weekend to either create them or make sure they are up-to-date, realistic and actionable.
 

Once you know where you’re going, make sure you keep your mind, eyes and hands on the right things:

  • Hiring the right people and training, coaching, evaluating and encouraging them so they are always enthusiastic ambassadors for your business;
  • Remembering that the true measurement of financial well-being is profit, not cash flow, and doing everything within a strong ethical framework to see that your business is profitable;
  • Creating a unique retail experience for your customers through products and customer service that set you apart from the pack, and;
  • Actively managing your time instead of letting everyday events overtake you.
Distracted driving doesn’t just happen on the road. It’s far too easy for us to be distracted by the urgent instead of remaining focused on the important.
 
Keep your mind, eyes and hands on your business, though, and you’ll be on the road to long-term success.

Bringing in the social media pros

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

When it comes to events, “social hour” has taken on a whole new meaning.

Long gone are the days of registering for an event a few days beforehand, attending for a couple hours and then going home. Now, because of social media, events have become more long-term and interactive, giving attendees an entirely new experience. However, integrating social media into the promotion, execution and aftermath of an event can be harder than it looks. Read on to find out why it’s often best to call in the professionals when using social media during your event.

Strategy

What are your goals for the event? How will social media help you achieve those goals? What will your strategy be, and what type of content will you post to your social networks?

These are just a few of the questions a professional can help you answer when setting up a social strategy for your event. In order to reach your goals, a plan of action is necessary and a professional can help you take the correct steps to develop it.

Engagement

During the event you’ll be very busy actually running the event, so how will you possibly have time to manage your social media in addition to everything else? This is where the pros take over.

Art Center Photo

To give you a better visualization of what this entails, a great example is when the Happy Medium team worked with the Des Moines Art Center to help manage their social media presence during Art Meets Fashion week. Our social media team was responsible for taking photos, creating live posts and engaging with fans during the events throughout the week.

Through our efforts, we saw engagement increase across all platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A few highlights from our engagement statistics from Art Meets Fashion week include the Art Center’s Instagram growing from 58 total photo likes to 1,907, increasing Twitter replies by 60 percent, and 86 likes on the top performing Facebook post.

With the help of Happy Medium, the Art Center employees and volunteers were able to focus on making sure the event ran smoothly while the brand was still interacting with fans on social media.

ROI

The whole point of integrating social media into your overall event strategy is to better achieve your goals, which is why it is extremely important to analyze your efforts after the event. Art center Facebook post

When Happy Medium partnered with the Art Center for Art Meets Fashion week, we performed an initial analytics report before the events began and created a post-event report to showcase the changes that occurred over the week. Through the use of professional analytics reports, we were able to demonstrate the value social media provided during this weeklong event, as well as provide insights on how to plan future events.

Social media can greatly benefit your event and its attendees when done correctly. To ensure social media success during your next event, call in the pros!

 

--Katie 

Are business cards dead?

Blank-business-card01Danny Beyer, a sales executive at Kabel Business Services, is a serial networker and often speaks about networking to groups.

Believe it or not, in this age of high technology, smart phones, LinkedIn, Facebook, and hundreds of other apps, the business card is still alive and well.  It is still a universally accepted tool that allows for quick information sharing with little to no pressure.  I will admit that I typically only use the business card to get the contact information into my database or connect with the individual on LinkedIn but without it this task would be a lot harder.  The business card is succinct, it is simple, and it allows for a quick exchange of information. 

I have read dozens of articles from influencers in various industries explaining how they no longer use business cards because they rely on the new connection to have one.  They will ask for a card and then email all relevant contact information to the person they met.  I have been guilty of this myself when I forget to bring cards to an event.  I do not like this approach because there have been countless instances when the person I met did not have a card.  I went ahead and gave them my card and asked for an email with their contact information.  The email never came.  A few weeks would go by and I would see them again and ask about getting their email.  Time and time again I experience the same reaction.  A sheepish smile followed by an apology for forgetting.  “I’ve been so busy, I must have forgotten.” 

The fact is we're all busy.  Why leave it up to chance that the new connection will send that email they promised?  Why not have a card to ensure that follow up calls or meetings can happen without a lot of added pressure or waiting for an email that may or may not come?  The business card is an inexpensive extension of your personal branding and marketing.  It is also one of the easiest tools to encourage follow up appointments and ensure that the time spent networking is valuable.

I still give out business cards without receiving them all of the time.  They may end up in the trash but they also may result in a great appointment.  One example – I happened to enter a CPAs office one hot afternoon during a busy day of cold calling.  It was the middle of summer and the CPA was working on tax returns for customers he had filed extensions for earlier in the year.  I apologized for bothering him while he was busy.  He smiled and said he appreciated the break.  We talked briefly on how his business was doing and I gave him a brief overview of the company I was working for.  Five minutes went by and he explained that he had better get back to work.  I thanked him for his time, gave him my card and left the building. 

Two weeks later my phone rang.  It was the same CPA, whom I had met for five minutes, passing on one of his clients for my services. Since that time he has sent me over ten referrals, resulting in business totalling more than $30,000 for my business.  He had no other way to contact me besides my card and I never received his contact information before we worked on the first client together. Imagine the outcome had I not been carrying cards that day. 

In the end, it all comes down to making sure you have collected some type of way to follow up and meet with the new connection after the event has concluded.  A business card is typically the easiest way to achieve this goal and can be received simply by asking for it.  As times change and we continue to rely more and more on digital communication, be willing to adapt and offer to connect however is easiest for your new connection.  Get the other person’s number and be sure to use it.

 

Don't Put Your Staff to Sleep

Recent studies show natural daylight in the workplace has more benefits than we thought.   Productivity has been tied to natural light but now extends to other health benefits. 

A Northwestern University School of Medicine study was reported in the June Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine indicating people exposed to natural daylight in the workplace also get more sleep, are more active, and overall have a higher quality of life.

“There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day --particularly in the morning -- is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism,” says senior study author Phyllis Zee, Northwestern Medicine neurologist and sleep specialist.

How much more sunlight did they get?  About 175% more daylight or nearly double the amount. The study also shows people have to be within 20-25 feet of the windows or else you might as well not have windows.

The results on sleeping showed those with natural daylight got 46 minutes more sleep than those without windows. The interesting thing is that when you are not near windows the artificial lighting is many times “blue light” which reduces the production of a sleep inducing hormone but that’s another blog.

My next blog will focus on conflict between low cost artificial blue light and your health. Contact me at rsmith@smithmetzger.com

Brand versus branding

DisneyBrandsDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

I attended the Disney Institute's workshop (thanks to the local chapter of the Association of Talent Development for bringing it here) this week and there were a lot of takeaways as we talked about how one of the world's most iconic and profitable brands does business. 

Looking at the graphic to the right, considering all of the incredible brands that are under the Disney Companies umbrella -- they know a thing or two about the subject.

One of the great disctinctions that they talked about was the difference between brand and branding.  Here's how they described it:

Brand is the perceptions and substantive experience that consumers have with your company, product, service or people.

Branding is the activities and tactics you undertake to affect the stories, experiences, and perceptions that consumers have with your company, product, service or people.

In other words -- brand is what you and your team bring to life every day.  The other is how you communicate the promise of what that experience will be like.  Sadly, what most organizations do is branding.  But they don't invest the time and resources into making sure that the brand actually matches the branding.

When that doesn't happen (think of all the times you'd have bad or mediocre service from a company who promised you were their #1 priority) to the consumer, it feels like you've been lying to them and worse -- they were a fool for believing you.

One of the key elements in gaining/keeping someone's trust is making a promise and repeatedly keeping that promise. That's what initially gets you a new customer and eventually turns that customer into a brand zealot.

Undrstanding the symbiosis of brand and branding and doing whatever needs to be done (training, secret shopping, employee rewards based on customer satisfaction, etc.) to make sure that the brand experience lives up to the promise is what allows Disney, Apple and Harley Davidson to all charge a premium.

We'll pay more for the brands we love because they keep their promises to us.

I challenge all of you to look at what you promise and make sure it's actually what you consistently deliver.  If not -- it's time to invest in that brand.

 

DrewTop Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Using a Visual Listener to Change the Conversation

Joe Benesh is a Senior Architect with Shive-Hattery and President + CEO of the Ingenuity Company, a strategic planning, diagramming, framework development, and design thinking consulting firm.

You probably think this is an easy topic for me. As an architect, I rely on my drawing skills to convey ideas. Translating the thoughts of others into built forms. In many ways, strategic planning is a lot like architecture – you’re building something from an intangible to a tangible – but there are distinct differences in how you process, synthesize, and deliver the information.

When I work with organizations, the first thing I do is ask if I can come and listen to them. I observe their processes and communication dynamics, getting a sense of the personalities that make up their identity. Once this has been established, we start to talk about ideas.

Ideas take many shapes and forms – there are ways to create visual representations of many things that make up the group’s mission and vision, and, through further discussion relationships start to appear. These relationships become a framework. 

Using a visual listening facilitator allows these frameworks to become clear, especially during strategic planning. I have used this technique in developing ideas – every single person I have worked with has a set of really great ideas, and creating a diagram of how these ideas become a system short circuits what can otherwise be a very linear process. The short circuit comes from the dynamic jump forward that happens when you can “see” your ideas and how they relate.

An example of this is when I was asked to create a systems diagram for various services and organizations and how they relate. I started by meeting with a few key stakeholders and letting them download every bit of information they could to me while I furiously sketched and took notes. I listened to their conversation and took in all of the characteristic data that they took great care and rigor in explaining to me.

The system was confusing, complex, and there were many, many interrelationships – but the ecosystem started to emerge, the longer they spoke. As we were speaking, drafts of the diagram became a living part of the conversation, triggering thoughts and structuring adjacencies.

Even as a series of small, rough sketches – lines and shapes on a page, really – the conversation took leaps forward. I left our session with a robust understanding of business sectors and offerings I only had superficial knowledge of prior to the meeting, and I set to work building a diagram that this community and series of organizations could use collaboratively.

When I completed the diagram, the ideas we spoke about all fit together. You could see the flow between sectors, identify processes, establish common collaterals, and track ROI factors in a meaningful way. Pain questions about what areas could stand improvement became clear, and the diagram could be used by groups internally and by groups external to the particulars. His diagram truly became a tool intended for collaboration.

Turning ideas into graphical representations allows for a dramatic positive turn in conversational dynamics. As you develop your thoughts on how to address strategic planning within your organization, think of engaging a visual facilitator to push the conversation to a completely new level.

Buyer Beware!

Buyer Beware is a fundamental principle that governs business transactions.  It’s a reminder that the buyer of goods or services must exercise caution and diligence in investigating the purchase, and the seller is not responsible for ensuring the buyer’s satisfaction.

Of course, there are many circumstances in which “Buyer Beware” is not the only rule at play. For example, professionals are held to certain standards of performance within their professions. Real estate agents are required to discover and disclose to buyers material defects in a property they are representing. In transactions involving securities or franchises, the buyer is entitled to receive certain disclosures and information prior to making an investment. However, in the commercial context, it is generally the buyer’s responsibility to ask questions, obtain information and protect himself contractually.

It is simply impossible to discover every potential problem with a business through inspections and due diligence. A motivated seller will always be able to hide a problem. It is the professional responsibility a Business Broker has to not to participate in seller duplicity. At times, a Business Broker must rely on their instincts and advice caution when a seller or buyer just does not seem trustworthy.  Business Brokers must also, provide advice to their clients based on our experiences.

 

 Here some examples of situations which you should be prepared to handle:

1.  Investigate your Seller.  What is their reputation and personal integrity?

2.  Understand the documents.  What is that they say and do not say?

3.  Have qualified professional representation (Attorneys, CPA, CFP, Business Broker etc.)

 

Good Selling!

 

Steve Sink  CBI, M&AMI

ss@phxaffiliates.com

 

The changing environment

Rowena (Ro) Crosbie is the president of Tero International Inc.

Are you positioned to take advantage of the opportunities presented by change in the business environment?   Change_1

As my husband and I bounced through our woods on ATVs, I observed, with some sadness, all of the trees that had fallen by the strong storms this summer.  The mature and now struggling oak savannah reminded me of a question posed by scholar and futurist, Joel Barker.  Which plant species is best positioned to take advantage of the prime real estate that comes available when a large tree falls and opens the canopy to new sunlight?

According to Barker, the common thinking was that the most competitive plant would prevail.  Like many things, modern research has brought a change to that thinking.  It turns out that it is not the most competitive, but the plant(s) in the best position to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself that win the battle for the coveted niche.

Of course, that makes sense.  If the most competitive plant won every battle then the entire forest would be populated by the same species.  In nature, as in business, diversity is the spice of life.  Small, sometimes extremely fragile plants are able to find a niche in which they don’t just survive, but thrive, despite competitive pressures from all around.  This is also true of many businesses. 

This insight from the natural world is both excellent news and concerning news for us all.  It provides great hope that the changes that are constant in the marketplace, if properly prepared for, may present great opportunities for the future.  It also provides evidence that enjoying market leadership may be short-lived if preparation for the changes of the future doesn’t remain at the forefront of leader’s strategic agendas.  

How quickly do changes happen?  In high-tech industries, the changes can happen multiple times in a single year.  Although they experience change more slowly, in other markets, such as the funeral industry, leaders are facing new challenges they’ve never seen at any time in the past that are reshaping business models. New technology introduces new possibilities to memorializing a loved one.  Rising social interest in concerns about land use is leading people to make different choices around their final decisions.     

Whether at the cellular level, the personal level, the organizational level, the national level or the international level, everything is changing.   

Is your organization positioned to take advantage of opportunities presented when the landscape of your business environment changes?

 

11 ways to increase referral business (in no particular order)

Here we go - you spot your name card at the corner of a long table in a candlelit restaurant. The waiting staff partitioned off a generous section for you and other business leaders in Iowa. Appletini in tow, you sit nestled into your chair and anxiously await the tone of the bell. Ding! You are officially a participant of referral speed dating. Each referral tip has 3 sentences or less to tell you why they deserve your undivided attention.

'I think I can, I think I can' referral mindset

TouchpointsThe key to referral business is setting the tone for your business, and your clients, that referrals are important. Understand the your best clients want to refer you, but that recommendations don’t always happen without a little push. Using language that conveys the significance of referrals for your agency- subtly, yet consistently, will ensure that you’re referred when the time is right.

Change how you ask where people heard about you

Like the roast beef at a cheap buffet, “Where did you hear about us” is overdone. Instead, ask your new customers (or prospects) “Who was it that referred you to us?” This question is much more explicit and yields more precise information for you to act on - while also setting the tone for future referrals.

Make it about them

Too often businesses communicate the topic of referrals with their clients in a selfish way. By saying “we would really appreciate if you referred your friends to us” you are basically asking for them to make a sale for you. Saying “we really want to help your friends and family” targets the reasons they refer their loved ones.

Refer other businesses

Tit for tat, reciprocity - it does wonders. If a prospect is not right for you, or you know businesses in adjacent industries, refer people to them. Set the precedent and they will almost always return the favor when the time is right.

Make it easy

When a client is feeling saucy and wants to refer your business it shouldn’t be difficult to do. To be most effective make sure your contact information is readily available. Send introductory emails, be easy to find online, and keep your social media pages up-to-date.

Improve your website

If you still have it, remove that counter at the bottom of your webpage. Even after a referral happens the vast majority of prospects will check you out online. Get a modern, easy to navigate, and solid website to convert referrals into sales.

Gather testimonials

Written validation dramatically improves your likelihood to capture referral business. Actively gathering testimonials makes your clients comfortable with referring you. They also serve as social proof for prospects.

Touchpoints

Reach out to your clients regularly with newsletters, loyalty cards, etc. Don’t reserve communication for when payment is due or your services are rendered. Keep an ongoing relationship to stay top of mind and to show your continued commitment.

Be interesting

By golly, give your clients something to talk about! If you share interesting stories with them they will be more compelled to discuss you with others. Sneak into as many conversations as possible by being fun and thought-provoking.

What do you say?

Thank you! Yeah, that’s right, let your clients know that you appreciate them recommending you to their loved ones. They are more likely to do it again, and they will appreciate the recognition.

Track your progress

A referral strategy is not a one and done kinda thing. Stay consistent with your strategy and stick with it! Track your results and adjust your strategy if needed.

So whaddya think? So many compelling referral tips to choose from. Start with one and go from there - they aren’t the jealous type!

Potential partners you shouldn't overlook

            When I talk to fellow retailers, I notice from time to time that there's one set of potential partners that can be easily overlooked or dismissed.

            Many small business owners recognize the real value and potential that comes with partnering with their neighborhood associations, local chamber of commerce and convention and visitors bureau. Unfortunately, some still don't.

            What they often see are burdens. Membership dues are viewed as just another expense; meetings are seen as just another demand on an already overcrowded calendar.

            What I see, as the owner of the Heart of Iowa Market Place, are opportunities to work with people who share the same philosophy about the importance of networking, making their community better and doing what it takes to make their business grow.

            That's why I'm thrilled to serve as the business improvement chair on the Historic Valley Junction Foundation and why I absolutely love to participate in activities like the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau's upcoming FAM trips in which motorcoach planners are hosted to "FAMiliarize" themselves with visitor-friendly spots in our metro area.

            Your local chamber of commerce is a great resource. Chambers create and foster a growing business community by promoting members' interests; providing invaluable educational resources, research and demographical data; and developing relationships between members. It's been said that a chamber of commerce is the door to an active, profitable role in the community. What a great partner for a small business!

            When you're involved in business organizations, you're in tune with local business trends, new companies and expansions. You meet new people. You create opportunities to make your business stronger, more innovative and relevant.

            That kind of involvement is also yet another example of actions speaking louder than words. People are naturally inspired and impressed when they see you're active and committed to success -- and that's a great recommendation for your business.

            One more thing. The results of being involved in your local chamber or business association are just like volunteering for your favorite cause: You get a lot more out of it than you put in.

Try something new

Keep-calm-and-meet-new-people-9It is incredibly easy to become stagnant at networking.  It is easy to attend the same functions, put on by the same organizations and continue to shake the same hands, month after month and year after year. We become comfortable because, after some time, we know most of the people in the room and the conversations are easy.  Relationships have been built and the nerves of meeting new people have worn off.

Do not fall into this trap.

I try to attend at least one new event each quarter where I may only know one or two of the attendees.  This forces me to be on my toes and to meet new people, which helps to expand my network.  It also ensures that I will continue to meet individuals who may add value to the people I already know.  By attending new events and meeting new people I never get completely comfortable and complacent in my networking efforts. 

New events are not hard to come by.  Hundreds of organizations are putting on networking events all of the time.  It simply takes a little effort to find a new function or the recommendation of a good friend.  One such recommendation came when a close friend was going through a leadership program.  He invited me to the kickoff party for their class project - a massive fundraiser to help a local nonprofit with their strategic plan. 

Through the course of the night I met many new individuals of various backgrounds who were in completely different circles than the ones I typically associate with. Towards the end of the evening I was introduced to the executive director of the nonprofit.  We hit it off and scheduled a coffee for the following week.  During our coffee she asked if I would be willing to serve on their advisory committee, a group of individuals who would help fundraise and work with the board of directors to further the nonprofit’s cause.  I jumped at the opportunity.

The appointment to the advisory committee of Amanda the Panda has allowed me to help many individuals who are grieving the loss of someone close to them in the community I call home.  I have seen this organization touch so many people and help them through one of the hardest times in anyone’s life.  It has also allowed me to connect with a whole new group of individuals and build friendships with people I would have never met if not for that event. 

Do not become complacent by attending the same events.  Meet new people and get out of your comfort zone once in a while.  Find a new event to try or sample what another group is doing.  This will allow you to continue to grow you network and expand your influence.  After all, you never know what other opportunities may exist.

How social media won summer 2014

The weather wasn’t the only thing heating up this summer! It was a season full of updates, changes and trends in the world of social media.

Best Moments

  • The 2014 FIFA World Cup made history as the biggest social media event of all time. More than 300 million tweets related to the World Cup were sent out over the course of the event. During the championship match there were over 618,000 tweets sent out per minute (source: http://www.eyeflow.com/world-cup-social-media-statistics/). Check out more incredible stats about social media usage during the World Cup here: http://www.eyeflow.com/world-cup-social-media-statistics/.

  • Social media was also a hit this summer with a craze known as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. For this challenge, people were nominated to either donate $100 to ALS or dump a bucket of ice water on their head. Most people decided to both donate and receive the freezing shower while posting videos of it on social media. The Happy Medium team even took on the challenge! Check it out here: http://youtu.be/uhl4wDZjPzk. As of Sept. 5, over 2.4 million Ice Bucket Challenge videos have been uploaded to Facebook, and the ALS Association has received a 3,000% increase year-over-year during this same time period in donations because of the viral hit.


Trends

  • Temporary messaging is becoming more and more popular through apps like Snapchat and Slingshot, which is a recently released app.

  • The selfie trend is still incredibly popular, reaching new ridiculous heights this summer with several new phones and apps coming out that are designed to specifically help you take a better selfie. Looks like it will be a while until your news feed is selfie-free again!

Changes


It’s safe to say social media was the MVP of summer 2014, so now bring on fall!

--Katie

Time to boot bottled water


I go to meetings and am offered bottled water. What do I do if I don’t finish? Take it with me? Leave it and hope it will be recycled? Then I fell into “well if everyone else does it then I will have bottled water at my office.” 

No more! If you come to my office you will be offered something to drink and if you choose water it will be in a clear glass tumbler.  If you don’t drink it all we can use it to water the plants!

You can do the same for three good reasons.

First, bottled water produces 1.5 million tons of trash a year. While a good candidate for recycling, experts say 80% goes to the landfill.  Besides it took oil to produce the plastic, nearly 50 million gallons.

Second, the cost is more than fifty times the cost of tap water.  The cost for a gallon of Des Moines tap water to my office is $0.03.  Costco has a pallet of bottled water at $320 and it still costs $1.32 per gallon.  Which is a better deal?  $320 for the pallet of water or $7.25 for tap water?

Third, most bottled water is just purified tap water so we are drinking the SAME THING! Costco sells Nestle “Pure Life Purified Water”.  What the heck is that? Sure does not sound like city tap water but is!

Join me and stop buying bottle water for your office and home.

Questions or feedback? Contact me at rsmith@smithmetzger.com

It should convert or why bother?

SalesFunnel_optDrew McLellan is the Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

It's not very often that I disagree with Seth Godin. But in his blog post on Friday, he was talking about websites and said "but don't beat yourself up that it's not converting. By real-life definitions, nothing online converts."

Boy, when Seth gets it wrong, he gets it really wrong. One of the best things about the web is it's measurable.  Finally -- we marketing types can measure our work and can tell what's working and what isn't.  

We can literally calculate the sales results based on a simple equation and then triggering certain marketing tactics that influence those results.

Whether you actually sell something online or not -- your website can and should lead to sales.  You just have to understand how people move through your sales cycle and then build the site to be sales funnel shaped... making it easy for people to find the information they need to make a purchase.

Now -- there are some exceptions to this rule.  Some people, consciously or not, have decided they don't want their site to sell.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this decision. It's just a different choice.

Are you one of those people? You might recognize yourself if you...

Built your site to showcase your work visually and have very little text: In today's search driven rule, a photo heavy site has a tough time competing with a site with lots of SEO enhanced text.

Never change or add to the content on your site: Stale content doesn't bring people back or keep their interest for long.

Your site doesn't help web visitors: Using your expertise to both help the visitor and demonstrate your knowledge is a smart way to keep them coming back for more and sooner or later, some of them will be ready to buy.

Aren't driving people back to your core site with your social media efforts: Are you a frequent re-tweeter but rarely share your own helpful content? Are your social posts stand alone efforts?

Again -- it's absolutely fine to opt for a site that doesn't sell.  Just make sure it's a choice, not a mistake.

 

~ Drew, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

 

 

Optimistic leadership: what works for Colin Powell

Dr. Christi Hegstad is a Certified Executive & Leadership Coach, President of MAP Professional Development Inc., and Founder of Spark!

“High-performing, successful organizations build cultures of introspection and trust and never lose sight of their purpose,” writes Colin Powell in his latest book, It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership. This outstanding resource is packed with simple but poignant leadership lessons, which Powell brings to life with stories from his extraordinary career path.

Powell - It Worked For MeIt Worked For Me, which I would describe as part memoir/part leadership guide, opens with Powell’s “Thirteen Rules” – the overarching principles that have guided arguably one of the most influential leaders of our time. From “Share Credit” to “Get Mad, Then Get Over It,” he offers the guidelines that served him as he rose to four-star general in the U.S. Army and eventually to Secretary of State, with many other notable milestones.

Throughout the book, Powell places a hefty emphasis on one critical, but often overlooked, leadership principle: Optimism. “I have always tried to keep my confidence and optimism up,” says Powell, “no matter how difficult the situation.” Sharing stories from his military experience, he demonstrates how “perpetual optimism” strengthens the success of individuals as well as an overall organization, which research by Martin Seligman, Barbara Fredrickson, and others clearly supports.

Yet although Powell clearly favors hoping for the best, he doesn’t suggest putting on blinders and ignoring realities. With characteristic wit he writes, “I try to be an optimist, but I try not to be stupid.”

I wore out a highlighter on It Worked For Me, so narrowing down to three takeaways proved quite challenging! Here are key guidelines that you can apply to your current leadership role as well as build upon for future roles:

1. Insist on clarity.

Powell always held high, specific expectations of his team but also insisted on making those expectations extremely clear. He describes conversations with new staff, warning them that the first few weeks will include continuous correction and nitpicking but will ultimately lead to success. Leadership experts consistently emphasize this need for clarity; in her outstanding bestseller Reality-Based Leadership, Cy Wakeman goes so far as to state that ambiguity is the source of all conflict. Have high expectations, but make them very clear. Set up your team for success

2. Hire for potential, not just performance.

While past performance offers the backdrop, it doesn’t necessarily predict future success. Powell lists several characteristics he would look for in new hires including competence, intelligence, and previous accomplishments but also qualities like “toughness with empathy” and “ability to inspire.” Look for a superb track record of success, but gauge for future potential.

3. Always be kind.

Kindness, this decorated military leader explains, isn’t “being soft or a wuss,” nor is it a weakness. On the contrary, kindness shows confidence.“Taking care of employees is perhaps the best form of kindness,” Powell concludes. Choose kindness. Always.

I found Powell’s thoughts on moral courage, true victory, getting over failure, and servant leadership especially fascinating, and his unique positions throughout his career offer a perspective most of us wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.

While you won’t necessarily agree with all of his strategies, the title of the book clearly explains that is not his expectation. Extraordinary leadership stems from influencing authentically: take pointers from those you admire but don’t attempt to mimic them.

Perhaps the most significant point reminds us that although leading others is important, your most important leadership role is that of being the leader in your own life:

Always do your very best. Even if no one else is looking, you always are. Don’t disappoint yourself.

 

What do you believe has made Colin Powell such a celebrated leader? Share your comments below.

Dr. Christi Hegstad, Certified Executive & Leadership Coach, President of MAP Professional Development Inc., and Founder of Spark! Gain more leadership tips from Dr. Christi via Facebook and Twitter.

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