StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

Making More of What You Have: Optimise Your Business in These Ways to Achieve More

Every business has its limitations, so yours shouldn’t get you down. Instead, you just need to make the most of what you do have, and that’s called optimisation. It’s all about getting more out of your business without having to spend more money or live beyond your means. It’s about improvement without any of the risky unsustainability that can so often come with it. Here are some top ways to achieve that kind of business optimisation.

Adopt a Customer-Centric Approach

First of all, you should definitely try to adopt an approach to business that is a lot more customer-centric. If you can do that, your business will be sure to go much further than ever before, and that can only be a good thing. Some business owners forget that everything they do has to be geared towards customers. If they don’t like what you’re offering and don’t buy what you’re selling, then nothing else really matters at all. By taking a customer-centric approach, you can maximise and optimise your business’s appeal to customers and, ideally, make more sales.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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Achieve Growth Through Continual Training

Continual training is vital, and it’s something that any business can focus on. It’s a great way to improve your team and get more out of the people you employ. It allows you to maximise their talents and capabilities, and this should lead to further growth for your business. If you allow your employees to stagnate, they will never improve and never be able to push your business on in the ways you might want them to. You have no right to keep expecting more from your people if you are not willing to offer them the training that allows them to improve.

Get Something Out of Those Unpaid Invoices

Lots of companies find that they end up with a backlog of invoices that haven’t been paid. Clearly, this is not an ideal situation to be in for your company. But rather than waiting and waiting for payments, you can make the most of those unpaid invoices. It could improve your cash flow situation and help your business to survive any tough financial times. Accounts receivable financing allows you to get more from companies that buy up these unpaid invoices. It’s something that is definitely worth considering if you need the cash quickly.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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Create Better Balance in Your Team

By creating better balance in your team, you can get more out of that group as a whole. Balance is one of the most underrated attributes when it comes to group dynamics in the office. If you have too many people who are good at one thing and not enough people who are good at another, the team will be unbalanced. This might not sound like such a big deal, but it can have a pretty big impact on your business and how it’s run. You will sooner or later find that you can’t be as efficient nor as productive as you would like if you don’t fix this.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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StrategyDriven Business Communications Article

The Importance of Effective Communication Within Your Business

Picture this scenario; you have an employee on their way to a business meeting in Dubai. He’s currently in the taxi on his way to the airport, but sadly his work phone is out of battery and you have no way to contact him about the cancelled deal. He boards the plane, heads off to Dubai, and it’s only once he lands that he gets your message about the deal being cancelled.

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article
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This example highlights just one of the many uses of an effective communications system. The ability to contact the people you need to in an urgent manner is incredibly important due to how time-consuming and money-wasting a delay in communications can be. Yet, unfortunately, there is only so much you can do with traditional systems such as emailing and messaging. If there are other business emergencies, such as a fire breaking out at the office or your business premises being burgled, then you need a quick and swift way to notify everyone within your company because every second counts.

Emergency Notifications System

Let’s pretend one of your employees has come into work early. He’s the first one at the office and he enters the premises to find that your entire office has been trashed, the computers have been stolen and the security system smashed into pieces. With no way to contact everyone in a short time span, the employee isn’t a hundred percent sure what he should do. This is just one of the many emergency notification use cases. Giving your employees the ability to make a company-wide emergency notification is a great way to alert all of the staff about a pressing issue that needs to be sorted out immediately. Instead of relying on a chain of command that they have to climb up for their message to reach someone, they can simply tell everyone in the business with a simple message.

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article
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Building Team Efficiency

If your team are able to easily contact each other with an effective communications system, then it helps to make the team more efficient. Whether there’s an important change that needs to be made or some hardware that broke which was critical to their project, everyone in the team needs to know so that they can adjust their working schedule to either fix the hardware, prepare a replacement or work around it. If your team is unable to communicate effectively, it will lead to delays, disputes and other problems that are going to slow down your business.

Employee Management

Managers are usually quite effective at communicating with their employees, but there are going to be times when having social skills isn’t enough and you need software or technology to improve the way a manager contacts an employee. For instance, if there’s an easy way for your senior members to keep a track of their team members and record their progress, then it makes your business more productive. By having your managers communicate effectively and inform staff of their daily tasks, goals and issues, it creates a workplace that runs smoothly.

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article
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Here’s How You Can Make Your Small Business Appear Professional

So you devised a killer product or service and now you’ve set up a business. It wasn’t easy, but you’re there. You have avoided failure thus far and are now starting to deal with clients and suppliers. Being able to do so while appearing professional is extremely important. You’ll get better deals from suppliers and your customer base will have more faith in you and what you do, meaning they’ll be more inclined to spend money with you. It can be quite tough to maintain a professional facade though, so here are some tips to help you on your way.

Use Quality Paper Materials

You’ll need all of your paper based dealings with other companies and indeed clients to appear professional. Check your invoices and make sure you’re using a good software to process them, if you are doing them yourself, make sure they’re done on a computer and look good, you don’t want to end up looking amateurish. The same applies to your payment systems, if you send cheques, use a company like http://checkomatic.com/ to ensure they look of good quality. You can really give a good impression by maintaining these good paper based materials.

Get Your Website Developed By An Expert

You could do it yourself and save some money, sure. But if you want it to appear expertly developed then getting a developer is the way to go. They will build it to your specifications and ensure it looks great. Use the same colour scheme as your logo and branding to help it tie it all together. They can ensure your website is easy to navigate and that your customers don’t get frustrated by an overly complicated website that ends up taking them through too many clicks to get them to where they need to be. You can find some great freelance web developers who can do it for quite a competitive rate. Just be sure you tell them exactly what you want before hand and if you aren’t happy with their work tell them, they can amend it as needed.

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Carry Yourself In An Appropriate Manner

If you’re the boss and the owner then you need to ensure your customers and indeed your employees respect you and take you seriously. Don’t take anything personally. It’s just business. You need to carry yourself in a way that radiates professionalism. Clients are more likely to do business with someone who appears serious. Wear a suit, speak properly, don’t be late and always fulfil orders and promises. Setting this example means your employees will follow suit, driving your business to success.

StrategyDriven Business Management Article
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Write Quality Content

If you have a blog on your website, whether to improve SEO or just as a reference point for your customers then make sure it is written well. Again, you can hire a freelance writer to do this for you. The same applies to the general writing on your website and company lettering. Having spelling errors or grammatical mishaps in your text won’t put too much confidence in your potential customers.

 

The One Strategic Mistake Your Company is Likely Making

Do you know what your company’s core values are?

You know, those ten to fifteen statements that are supposed to be the guiding principles that dictate the behavior and actions of your company? The foundation from which you are supposed to be ‘Built to Last’ and help you make your most important decisions? Could you recite them out loud right now without looking them up?

I didn’t think so.

Chances are your CEO can’t either. And I think that’s pretty sad. It’s part of the reason why most companies are mediocre. Most people, like your CEO, would say that having core values in business is important. However, very few are actually living them… not because they don’t have any but because of the opposite – they have too many. People can’t remember them all and so they forget. And if you forget what your core values are then you aren’t making decisions using them.

Stop confusing people.

Steve Jobs said it best: “Marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world. It’s a very noisy world… And so we have to be really clear on what we want [the world] to know about us.” And it’s not just about marketing. It’s everything. Your core value should be the lens through which you see the world and make all important choices. By having fifteen “core” values that nobody remembers, you’re needlessly complicating things for your constituents over who you are, what decisions are best for the business, and how to talk about your company. You’re confusing your team and everyone else around you.

What’s the solution?

Get it down to One Word. Whether it’s #Innovation (3M), #Love (Starbucks), or #Health (CVS), having a single guiding value helps communicate to your team, your customers, and the world what you stand for. It also helps make the big decisions easier like being one of the first big companies to stand up for gay marriage (Starbucks, #Love) or walking away from $2 billion in annual tobacco sales because it doesn’t align with your One Word core value (CVS, #Health).

This might be painful.

If you’re at an organization that hasn’t ever really dug into what’s most important then turning those fifteen core values from a plaque on a wall to an actionable, meaningful One Word, will be difficult. People will disagree. Some may quit. Others might be asked to move on. But until companies start looking beyond the resume, beyond the skills, and start looking at do our people’s values match up with what we stand for as an organization, then all the other strategies and tactics won’t save your business.

Get your One Word right. Apply it as the operating philosophy through which your entire company is run. Give your team, customers, and investors something to actually be proud of. And watch your culture, impact, and profits soar.


About the Author

Evan Carmichael is the author of Your One Word (December 6, 2016), and he also coaches entrepreneurs for peak performance. At 19, he built then sold a biotech software company. At 22, he was helping raise $500k to $15mil. He has been interviewed or featured as an entrepreneur expert in The New York Times,The Wall St. Journal, Forbes, Mashable, and elsewhere. He now runs EvanCarmichael.com, a popular website for entrepreneurs. He speaks globally and is based in Toronto. You can find him on Twitter @EvanCarmichael.

John P. David

Three Keys to a Good Online Reputation

Headlines today are filled with cell phone videos of bad behavior, verbal attacks in the twitter-verse, and disturbing incidents of cyberbullying. In our everyday lives, disgruntled customers or employees tarnish reputations of local businesses or past employers and jobs are lost or never offered because of inappropriate social media sharing. Business owners who want to have better control of their reputation online should follow these three key pieces of advice:

How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online1. Build your reputational firewall

Build your online firewall. If your business could be hijacked by negative reviews and online attacks, then you need to ensure that you regularly publish your positive news and build a legacy of positive internet results. It’s tougher for negative information to take center stage in the future if there’s already a lot of positive information anchoring top search results.

Stake your claim to your name. This is really basic stuff but it merits repeating. In a crisis, it is important for your customers and the public to be able to hear your news as directly as possible from the source. Your company should have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and a LinkedIn page if for no other reason than it verifies your company’s identity and authenticates your news.

Address negative info. If there’s negative information about your company posted online, you have to react in some way. Review sites generally enable companies to respond to comments, both positive and negative. Take advantage of this option. Damaging content can be removed in some cases, but simply allowing negative information to remain unchecked is typically not a good strategy.

2. Get a handle on online review sites

Review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and Glassdoor are growing in both popularity and authority with search engines. The more companies participate on the sites, the bigger the sites become and authority grows. The impact is building. As one review site executive said to me: “The genie is out of the bottle.” Review sites are here, they are dominating search results, and they can’t be ignored.

Claim or create your company page on the main review sites. Your company may not yet have a listing on a site like Yelp, but any customer or interested party could create one without your knowledge and certainly without your consent. Business owners should look at the main review sites and either claim their page if one has already been created or create their own listing – this will give you a small level of control.

Build out your review site listings. Across the board, executives from review sites recommend completing profiles and adding information to business listings. Up-to-date photos, videos and descriptions increase page views as well as interest from prospective customers or employees. Plain listings without images look stale as customers on review sites are typically interested in getting current information.

Engagement. Likely the biggest trend in online reviews centers on engagement. Interaction between businesses and their customers helps build the overall sense of community, and executives from review sites universally advocate for responding to both positive and negative reviews.

Don’t try to fix “crazy.” When speaking with one executive who has had tremendous success with Yelp, he mentioned that they have some very simple rules. His company will bend over backwards for his customers, but “we don’t do crazy.” Sometimes customers have outrageous expectations, and every business owner has dealt with clients who may not be “all there in the head.”

3. In case of emergency, know your options

When confronted with negative online content that hinders your business or damages your reputation, the best advice is to remain calm and make a sound assessment. While the first reaction may be to blast away at the hate blog, defamatory post, negative news article, or nasty review, we have found that it makes more sense to slow down and develop a strategy before confronting the source.

Negotiate removal. Most websites are run by legitimate businesses that have no interest in publishing false, tasteless or potentially defamatory content. Of course, some sites are run by neurotic bloggers, but the vast majority have sensible human beings at the controls. If you are dealing with negative web postings or negative articles posted on a corporate site or corporate message board, it may be possible to negotiate removal.

Suppress, push-down or bury. When you research online reputation management companies, you quickly learn that they offer a distinct service known in the industry as “suppression.” They will create new, benign web content with the hopes of pushing down or suppressing negative search results. This tactic can be very effective, but it isn’t always the best solution, or the most economical

The idea is that you flood the Internet with positive content about you or your company and work to push down, bury, or “suppress,” the negative content. Information is not removed from search results but rather pushed farther down the search result pages to a point where fewer people will see it.

Remove it using the Covert Ops of reputation management. One of the Internet’s big secrets is that digital is not necessarily forever. The common belief is that once something is posted online, it will stay there forever. Many people endure a feeling of helplessness at this thought, but options exist. Content can actually be removed from search results and sometimes entirely from cyberspace. There are folks who can make things disappear from search results. It’s a fairly exclusive thing and exactly how it works I can’t explain, but we have been able to get stories and posts completely removed from search results These tactics are not the same thing as suppression, which pushes negative information further down the search results. I’m talking about either removing or hiding negative content.

More information about protecting your online reputation is available in How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online (Career Press, October 2016).


About the Author

John P. DavidFor more than 25 years, John P. David has counseled businesses and executives on strategic communications and marketing issues. He has developed a specialty helping clients facing online attacks because, sadly, anyone can publish negative information online, seemingly without consequences. His strategic communications firm, David PR Group, counsels clients in the areas of marketing, reputation management, and public relations. He frequently writes about communications and strategy on The Huffington Post. Follow him at @JohnPDavid.