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The Big Picture of Business – Each Role Matters. The Value of Support Staff

StrategyDriven Big Picture of Business ArticleEvery person in the company matters to its success. Every job is important, as is filling them with the best people for each job. The art and skill of being great support staff is a cornerstone of business success.

From pop culture, think of the great role models that we grew up watching:

Della Street was the loyal secretary to Perry Mason. She knew what everyone was thinking and was the glue to the cases. She was the model for executive assistants and office managers everywhere.

The CEO is made stronger with a good C-suite team. Ed McMahon was TV’s premier second banana. He worked as assistant, announcer, commercial pitchman and sketch narrator to Johnny Carson throughout their 29-year run on NBC-TV’s “Tonight Show.” They had previously worked together on a game show, “Who Do You Trust” on ABC-TV. Bandleaders on the late-night are vital #3 characters on the show, including Doc Severinsen, Skitch Henderson, Paul Shaffer and The Roots band.

The movie star heroes had buddies to help them navigate the adventures. John Wayne and Roy Rogers had Gabby Hayes. Gene Autry had Pat Buttram.

TV show stars had great support casts. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel & Fred Mertz. This historic teaming became the formula for most other TV sitcoms. Shows like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “30 Rock,” “The Office” and others had expanded ensemble casts.

Some performers made careers as supporting players. Ann B. Davis was Schultzy on “The Bob Cummings Show” and Alice on “The Brady Bunch.”

Back characters on TV shows included restaurant and bar operators, where the stars went top relax. There were friendly, familiar places such as Cheers bar, Arnold’s Drive-In on “Happy Days,” the Krusty Krab on “SpongeBob Square Pants,” Dale’s Diner on “The Roy Rogers Show” and other homey places. In the business world are those staff people who make us feel more like family. Therefore, our loyalty to the company rises, and we are more productive.

Still other back characters bring cohesion to the enterprise. On “Gilligan’s Island,” those glue-adhesive characters were the Professor Roy Hinkley and Mary Ann Summers. Those vital employees in the business world might include the IT guy, the receptionist, the mailroom manager, the ethics adviser and the secretary to the Board of Directors.

Great executives know the value of crediting support figures for the business success. Lt. Columbo was always quoting his wife as basis for testing hypotheses, though the character was never shown. Newspaper publisher Perry White was always upstaged by his employees, notably Clark Kent/Superman. Al Roker does the weather on “The Today Show,” and he is also the motivating segment host as well. Nobody turns letters like Vanna White, making her essential to the legacy of “Wheel of Fortune.”

And then there were those mentors behind the scene who were responsible for lots of creativity. The Beatles had George Martin as their producer. Steven Spielberg had John Williams as music composer for his films.

A host of people make the CEO look good. Further, they transform the company to greater plateaus. Warmly recognize the contributions of executive assistants, trusted advisers, mentors, support staff, hier apparents, adjuncts, vendors and outside stakeholders.

Here are some characteristics of support personnel and rising stars who will make it as professionals and business leaders:

  • Act as though they will one day be management.
  • Think as a manager, not as a worker.
  • Learn and do the things it will take to assume management responsibility.
  • Be mentored by others.
  • Act as a mentor to still others.
  • Don’t expect status overnight.
  • Measure their output and expect to be measured as a profit center to the company.
  • Learn to pace and be in the chosen career for the long-run.
  • Don’t expect that someone else will be the rescuer or enable you to cut corners in the path toward artificial success.
  • Learn from failures, reframing them as opportunities.
  • Learn to expect, predict, understand and relish success.
  • Behave as a gracious winner.
  • Acquire visionary perception.
  • Study and utilize marketing and business development techniques.
  • Contribute to the bottom line, directly and indirectly.
  • Offer value-added service.
  • Never stop paying dues and see this continuum as “continuous quality improvement.”
  • Study and comprehend the subtleties of life.
  • Never stop learning, growing and doing. In short, never stop!

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Sales Dwindling? Here’s Why

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Online Marketing
 
All businesses need to keep their sale numbers up as high as possible to ensure that they are bringing in enough money each month to ensure they can cover all costs and still have enough money left over to make a profit. However, sometimes this isn’t always possible. Even though you might think that everything has been going well with your company’s operations and marketing strategies, there could still be periods during which your sales seem to tail off.

Even though you might not think that there is an obvious reason why your sales are dwindling, there probably is a cause for these poor sales. Sometimes, you just need to look a bit closer at your business to determine what that cause is. Here are a few common reasons why a company’s sales might dip every so often. Thankfully, most of them are simple enough to recover from.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Online Marketing
 
Shake-Up At Management Level

Any issues at the management level of a business can create a trickle-down effect, and the consequences can often be felt throughout the organization. Even something that shouldn’t be too problematic, such as a manager resigning and a new professional taking their place, you might be surprised to find just how disruptive these changes can be. They can also affect areas of your business that they aren’t necessarily linked to, including sales. It’s just unfortunate that the trickle-down effect will disrupt most departments, so your sales won’t be immune to any changes at management level.

Poor Marketing

Ideally, your company’s marketing needs to be consistent at all times. There always needs to be a current strategy or campaign that your marketing department are implementing to ensure that your company is always visible to the public. If your business’s marketing efforts ever dip at any time, then you might notice that the quality of your marketing gets slightly worse. This will lead to fewer sales as it won’t be tempting any consumers to come and try out your brand. If you feel that your marketing campaigns need a bit of a revamp, you might want to invite an external marketing agency to come and collaborate with your in-house team.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Online Marketing
 
Forgetting To Follow Up

Most of your sales team will be busy every day with contacting potential clients and cold-pitching to the public. This is hard work and I’m sure that most of the team will have a seemingly never-ending list of leads to contact. However, just contacting everyone once isn’t enough and this will rarely lead to any sales. Your sales team need to always remember to follow up on any leads that they have made contact with. This will then remind the lead about your company and can encourage them to go through with a purchase.

Bad Forecasting

At the start of every year, you should be making a few different business forecasts, including a projection of your potential future sales. It’s also important that these projections are regularly updated to reflect current data and figures.However, if you use bad data or make some mistakes while creating these projections, you could end up with some incorrect forecasts. If these overestimate how many sales you are estimated to make through the year, then there is no way your real sales figures will live up to the forecasts. This could reflect very badly on your company. So, it’s a good idea to use a sales management CRM to help you manage your current sales figures and turn them into a reliable forecast. These kinds of CRM can also give you other useful insights, such as how you can go about increasing your annual revenues.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Online Marketing
 
No Training

Can you remember when the last time you offered training to your sales team was? If it was a few years ago, or you can’t even remember when you last trained the department, it’s a good idea to organize a course or one-off training day for them. It’s important that you stay on top of all your staff’s training so that they are continually at the top of their game. If you let training slip, then so will the standard of their work too. Ideally, you need to offer your sales staff at least one day of training each year so that they are always up to date with the current trends and best practices that are dominating the world of sales.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Online Marketing
 
Bad Online Visibility

It’s also a good idea to try to stay on top of your company website’s SEO. Many entrepreneurs think that they only have to work on the site’s SEO when they are in the process of creating the website. Unfortunately, though, that isn’t the case. Ideally, you need to keep on working on the SEO throughout the entire lifespan of the website. Good websites should be regularly maintained or else their SEO will become useless. So, if you haven’t’ worked on your site in a while then there is a good chance that your company aren’t as visible online. Fewer people will be stumbling across the site because it won’t be ranking high in search engine results. And that means fewer people will be buying your products or services.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Online Marketing
 
Aiming At The Wrong Target Market

Every single product or service on the market will have a set target audience. These are the people you need to sell to. If you aren’t 100% sure who is in your target audience, then you can carry out some market research to find out. Once you know, you then need to start aiming all of your marketing at them. If you end up targeting the wrong kind of people, then your marketing won’t be having a positive effect at all. You’ll just be pushing your product or service onto people who aren’t that interested in it at all.

As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why your sales might start to dwindle. Hopefully, you’ll be able to turn things right around before it’s too late for your business’s revenues!

How to Market Yourself as a Freelancer

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article | FreelancerIf you have a talent in a particular industry and you have the determination required to work for yourself successfully, then there are plentiful opportunities in the freelance sector at the moment. Freelancing has several advantages over setting up a business, because it requires a far lower level of investment and you don’t have to employ anyone else. All you need are the skills, computer facilities, and the will to succeed.

There are many jobs that lend themselves to freelancing; in fact, there are very few specialties that don’t have some kind of online application. For example, even the most practical, hands-on jobs such as construction, teaching, and medicine, all need web-based services such as training and consulting. If you have the urge to go it alone, there’s very little holding you back – but the critical difference between success and failure will be your ability to market yourself effectively.

Why marketing matters for freelancers

You may consider marketing to be more appropriate for a small business than a freelance enterprise, especially if you have good contacts and can start off with some ready-made clients. While it’s always advantageous to have a couple of clients on your books before you take the plunge into full-time freelancing, there are a couple of points you should bear in mind.

Firstly, if you’re planning to take clients with you from your present job, you could be heading for trouble. Somewhere in your employment contract, it will probably say something along the lines of employees aren’t permitted to poach clients from the business if they leave for a period of six months or so. You may not have such a clause, but it’s still considered underhand to take contacts with you if you leave a business.

Whether you have such a clause or not, you may feel that there’s very little your previous employer could do anyway once you’ve left, but regardless of whether they seek to claim damages against you, which they could well do in some instances, they do have the power to sully your reputation. Businesses live or die on their reputation, and if you become known in the industry as someone who can’t be trusted, your future will be bleak.

Furthermore, you can’t rely on the handful of clients you start with to keep you going or generate new business for you. To build up a sound, stable business, you need to master the art of marketing yourself.

You are the product

In a business, you’re selling a service or a product, and while you would do well to include yourself as a valuable part of the package, you wouldn’t necessarily be the focus. However, if you’re a freelancer, you need to be selling yourself – in effect, you are the product. The only difference between you and all the thousands of other bookkeepers, writers, tutors, or whatever you specialize in, is yourself. All the other freelancers in your sector will be offering broadly similar services, so the only way you can stand out from the crowd is to promote the benefits you offer potential clients.

Some people have no problem with this at all, and happily talk themselves up; others find it hard to sell themselves and promote their abilities. Being over-confident can be off-putting, as you can come across as arrogant; but failing to market yourself as one of the best in your field isn’t likely to impress prospective customers. A middle ground is usually the best approach, showing confidence in your skills without being too full of yourself. If you do struggle with self-confidence, it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed as a freelancer, but you’ll need to put a concerted effort into learning how to present yourself in your marketing.

Marketing tools for freelancers

Many freelancers underestimate the importance of having a website. If you think it’s a bit over the top to create a website just to promote yourself, think again. A website impresses potential clients and reinforces the idea that you’re a serious, committed expert in your field. You can use the website to provide full details of the services you offer, host a portfolio of previous work, and display customer testimonials. It’s a good platform to introduce yourself and help clients get to know you as a person so they make a connection with you, and it’s invaluable for being found in web searches.

If you’re not sure how to create an effective website, find out more about using a design service to create the optimum site, and compare the pros and cons of using a website builder compared to a design service. Your site doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, just well designed, easy to use, full of relevant information, and updated regularly. In addition to your website, listings in directories not only make your business easier to find, but improve your rankings in search engine results lists too.

Social media can also be a powerful tool if used regularly, but don’t overwhelm yourself by signing up to every possible platform. Have a look at the usage statistics for each one and select one or two to start with. You want to get the hang of posting regularly and managing your accounts effectively without having too many different ones to worry about. Once you get accustomed to writing a daily FaceBook post, or tweeting a few times a day, you can always expand onto other platforms. You should also look at specialist websites and publications that focus on your field of expertise, as a presence in these will be perfect for reaching your target customers.

Many people make a very decent living from going freelance, and have a better quality of life working for themselves. Some go on to establish a fully-fledged business based on their freelancing, but you can follow whichever path appeals most to you. The important thing to remember is that you need to sell yourself, and take the task of marketing yourself very seriously if you want to bring in the right clients.

The Ten Greatest Promotional Products of All Time

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Promotional ProductIn the 150 years since the modern era of promotional marketing began almost every class of product has been custom branded. But some products have endured better than the rest. Here we list the ten all time greatest promotional merchandise ideas based on their ongoing popularity and return on investment. In the last 20 years the way we do business has changed more than it did in the previous 130 years however these classic promotional gift ideas are still as popular as ever and to this day still comprise majority of orders placed with promotional retailers. The list from 1 to 10 is based on distributor sales volumes reported in the USA and Australia but there is some variation in the order depending on location and the time of year. Cost effective and practical, these ten promo classics continue to deliver for marketers the world over.

1. Pens

Even in this day with companies pushing towards paperless offices the classic ballpoint pen is a must have business accessory. Even with multi-application mobile phones and electronic messaging systems the first option people reach for when looking to take a quick note or write down contact details is a ballpoint pen. Their universal popularity is supported by the vast range of styles and price points on offer. Custom pens range from cheap giveaways costing less than 20 cents through to engraved gift options produced by world famous brands. People will rarely dispose of a working promotional pen so your bargain offering could hold its place for years, keeping your branding visible and your message in place.

2. Coffee Mugs

Just about everyone starts the day with a cup of their favourite hot beverage and often their emotional stability is dependent on its effect. Placed on a desk top a branded coffee mug carries unmissable branding. The right mug will become a regular part of the recipient’s day. Again, like all the most popular categories above the range of mugs available includes something for every situation and promotional opportunity. Coffee consumption continues to grow across the world and as a result promotional mugs are here to stay.

3. Bags

Promotional bags combine basic utility with high level branding and the bag you give away today at a conference filled with discussion papers and catalogues can be used tomorrow for shopping or to carry sports gear for a workout at the gym. It’s no surprise that retails hand out custom printed bags to their customers. Next time you’re in any shopping precinct have a look around at the carry bags people use to transport their purchases. The branding is unmissable and often these bags have a life after their primary use. And of course there are many styles of bags, from simple printed paper bags through to high end promotional luggage, backpacks and briefcases all of which have a specific use and share the traditional advantages of utility and high branding visibility common to all products in the category.

4. Badges & Pins

As a simple and cost effective way to display your membership and support for an organisation, or alternatively to provide a thank you gift to supporters an sponsors custom made lapel pins and badges are hard to beat. Considered jewellery items by some people and with usable lives which can surpass that of the people organising their production lapel pins are both cost effective and highly sought after. There is even an active collector community of people who trade and collect lapel pins so your design could become a cherished possession which takes pride of place.

5. Drink Bottles

The fact we all need to drink, a lot more often than we need to eat is one of the reasons promotional drink bottles have such broad appeal. Combining large scale custom branding with a low unit price the range of custom printed bottle styles available extends all the way from simple plastic sports bottles through to the latest vacuum insulated bottles. For the education industry, local sports teams and as corporate gifts to staff promotional bottles also have a green edge as they can be refilled over and over avoiding the need to buy bottled water. These eco-friendly credentials along with the unmissable branding ensure that promotional drink bottles will continue to be popular as long as humanity need hydration.

6. Wristbands

Since Lance Armstrong’s “Livestrong” initiative the humble silicone wristband has become a recognised symbol of emotional support and has since been adopted by a multitude of organisations looking to produce cost-effective giveaways and rewards for sponsors and supporters. For community organisations with a limited budget wristbands have become popular and effective fundraising items. As their popularity has grown manufacturers have come to the party and the range of styles, sizes and shapes has grown to the point now that there are enough different wristband models available that every organisation can choose a style which will represent their message.

7. Stress Balls

While some marketers view stress balls with scepticism but the reality is they are compact, fun 3D models which bring out the kid in a recipient while actually delivering a therapeutic benefit. It’s also cost effective to produce your own custom shaped stress balls and many manufacturers have found there are few better ways to make their clients aware of a new product offering than to produce a soft, #D model of their new product offering. Best of all people often keep a stress ball handy as an office mascot so your branding remains prominent

8. Confectionery

Everyone loves sweets and lollies or knows someone who does. A gift which appeals directly to the kid in all of us, promotional confectionery is the perfect low cost “thank you” gift. There are few better ways to leverage your investment in attending a convention or trade show than to hand out branded lollies at your stand. From salesmen hoping get a foot in the door, through to a small inexpensive giveaway to include with invoices which encourage prompt payment, custom branded bags of jelly beans and mints have an impact far beyond their cost.

9. Notepads

Combined with a pen there is no simpler or more widely used office item than a custom notepad. Sometimes, despite being surrounded by electronic equipment with the combined memory capacity or a public library the simple expedient of writing a quick note and leaving it in a prominent place is something no electronic device can replace. Custom printed notepads occupy a prime space on a desk and with a logo print on each page they move around the workplace with the messages they carry. There are few people in business who don’t reach for a notepad some time in each business day to scribble down a phone number or a reminder of some task that needs their attention when the time becomes available.

10. Key Chains

Key chains or “keyrings” as they are called in some regions of the Anglosphere are a practical item which have been utilised by promotional marketers for as long as promotional products have been produced. Not just a useful way to organise keys, a key chain is something people keep handy so your branding will always be kept close. In many ways the holy grail of promotional marketing is to provide people with a cost effective gift idea which will become a part of their daily activity and keyrings are a proven way to get your message into peoples’ hands for the long term.

There are hundreds of categories of promotional items. The ten listed above are in the opinion of the author then ten classic for which every marketer could potentially find a use. Tell us below what would make your list of all-time favourite promo products.

Have Your Business Relationships Stopped Working?

You’re not going to build a successful business all on your own. You’ll need a whole range of other people if you’re going to make your company profitable in the long-term, including your staff, family, and business relationships. While the first two will be in your control – at least to a larger extent – your business relationships will be a bit more difficult to manage. And it’s easy to see why: they have their own interests to look after. However, because they’re so important, it’s imperative that you take proactive steps if your business arrangements aren’t working as efficiently as they once did. Below, we take a look at a few useful steps you’ll want to consider taking to get them back on track.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Handshake | Business Relationships
 
Leeway

Nothing black and white, especially the world of business. As such, it’s not wise to adopt an “all or nothing” approach to your business relationships. If you’ve spent years building your relationships, then you can’t throw it away the second things hit a rough patch. If they’ve otherwise been dependable, you don’t need to take drastic action the second that the quality dips. It might be because of reasons that are beyond their control.

Talk it Through

The best approach, therefore, is to talk it out. There’s little use in talking angrily in your office about the other business. Pick up and call them. They might have an excellent reason why they’ve not been in touch/been unable to meet their end of the agreement. As a matter of routine, you should be talking as much as possible anyway. Little wrong can come from talking too much, but a lot of damage can result in not talking at all. If nothing else, it helps keep confusion and other misunderstandings at bay.

Limit the Damage

There might be a situation where your partners aren’t able to provide the level of service that they can usually provide, but you don’t want to drop them entirely. If this happens, it’s at least important that you limit the damage that the partnership can bring. For instance, you might temporarily stop working with them until they’re in a stronger position. It’s all about making sure that your business doesn’t suffer because of another company’s actions.

The Legal Route

While you’d like to think that the business relationships you have wouldn’t cause you any harm, sometimes they do; sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not. Whatever transpires, it’s imperative that you don’t let their actions bring your business down. If you’re in the middle of a dispute with another business, look at working with a firm that offers business litigation services, such as Weisblatt Law Firm. These issues can be very complicated, and sometimes litigation is the only way to resolve the issue.

Conclusion

Managed properly, your business relationships will help to take your company to the next level, but they do require ongoing management to ensure they have a positive impact on your business. If not, they could cause damage you could live without.