The Shift In Branding

(Part 2 of a 3 in a series)

The best organizations are encouraging and rewarding their customers for helping them to build their brands. In essence, the ecstatic (not merely satisfied) customers are becoming unofficial employees and very official brand ambassadors for the companies.

How can you create that dynamic at your organization?

Here are 3 suggestions:

Generate & maintain enthusiasm – this doesn’t only go for your employees. The enthusiasm has to be the contagious kind that spreads outside your 4 walls. In order to shift your branding from being just about “us” to being more inclusive of “them,” they have to share the passion and enthusiasm. Then they have to be willing to communicate the same to others that need to hear it! If you’re not fresh, fun, creative, and evolving, it will be difficult to achieve this. How do you go about it? Read last week’s post on “experiential marketing.”

Reward loyalty – your organization should take steps to identify your very best patrons. Pull some research reports – find out who’s “buttering your bread” and take appropriate steps to reward that kind of loyalty. The airlines do it through their Rewards programs – most of them now include a dollar-spend requirement to qualify for the different tiers (silver, gold, elite, diamond, etc.) It’s not just about how many miles you fly anymore. A lot of people were pretty upset when these changes were announced. From a consumer perspective, it can indeed seem that you’re being short-changed. However, from a pure business perspective, it makes perfect sense. Think about this – a person could fly from New York to Hong Kong once and be very close to achieving rewards status because of the number of miles flown. But they were able to get a great deal on the fare and only paid $750 for the ticket. By rewarding those that fly often and spend some significant coin on travel, it becomes easier for the airlines to justify giving out freebies. If you take steps to recognize and reward those that are most loyal to you, they will be more likely to become your brand Ambassadors.

Create experiences instead of products – my good friend Mark Arnold commented on last week’s post that introduced this 3-part series. His feedback read: “If consumers truly love you and are more than “satisfied” with you, they’ll have more products and services. For example, I don’t just love Apple–I have like all their products. So how is your product penetration looking these days? Increase engagement and you’ll increase sales.”

Apple is a perfect example – when you walk into an Apple store, they don’t just want you to buy a product. They want you to take you through a unique purchasing experience. The dumbest question that any retail sales associate can ask is “can I help you find something?” Why? Because the default answer that is given 98% of the time is “no thanks. Just looking.” Right? Apple associates let the products speak for themselves. They bring personal engagement and involvement to a different level. About a year ago, I converted to Apple products. As long as the experience of being an Apple customer continues to evolve and get better, Ill stick with them. It’s not just about the product. Could a better experience with another company come along? Absolutely! It’s the same with your organization. That’s why it is so important to keep the experience at the forefront of your strategizing.

By the way – my writing about Apple on this blog qualifies me as a “Brand Ambassador” which illustrates exactly what I mean by the term.

How can you create the experience? Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series that will be published next week!

Happy Labor Day!

Posted in Branding, Building Relationships, Business Development, Collaboration, Credit Unions, Employees, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Marketing, Performance, Productivity, Strategic Planning | Leave a comment

Experiential Marketing: Beyond the Survey

Part 1 of 3 in a series.

Isn’t marketing about colors, and paper, and design? Perhaps. But it has to be much more than that now. That’s why your organization’s marketing executives and employees need to be smarter, innovative, and strategic. If all you have is a marketing person that either can’t do or is unwilling to do much more than design pretty flyers (and Heaven help you if you’re still taping things to doors and walls,) then it’s time to get someone that has the required skills to bring your organization’s marketing efforts to a more sophisticated level.

Your organization’s marketing and branding efforts should be transitioning from “telling” to “interacting.” Other words are “engagement” and “experiential.”

Go to your marketing personnel right now and ask them to describe experiential or engagement marketing to you. If they can’t, it should scare the hell out of you – or at the very least, it should concern you greatly.

So stop reading and go ask them….right now.  Of course, I want you to come back and read the rest of this when you’re done!

There is a dangerous belief among some marketers that simple surveys constitute engagement or experiential marketing. They don’t. They never will.  Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

The “post-transaction” telephone survey: Does this sound familiar – “we are contacting you today to ask about your recent experience with XYZ Company. With 1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest, please press the number that would describe how satisfied you are with your latest transaction.” So….you press your number and then hear: “Thank you. Your response has been recorded. Good-bye.” Click.

What’s wrong with this survey?

First, the use of the word “satisfied” taints it from the beginning. As an executive of XYZ Company, I don’t want to know if people are merely “satisfied.” I want to know if they are “ecstatic.”

Next, there is no opportunity for the survey respondent to provide any kind of actual, useful feedback. The robot that called simply hangs up after the number is pushed. Too bad you can’t change your answer after being hung up on. I certainly don’t feel “satisfied” after being cut off and I am so far away from “ecstatic” that I forget the meaning of the word.

Finally, there is no focus whatsoever on allowing the organization’s patrons to help “create the brand.” Branding is being redefined. It’s no longer just about messaging – it’s insanely deeper than that now. The best organizations are encouraging and rewarding their customers for helping them to build their brands. In essence, the ecstatic (not merely satisfied) customers are becoming unofficial employees and very official brand ambassadors for the companies.

How? Part 2 of 3 in this series will be posted next week. Stay tuned!

Posted in Branding, Building Relationships, Business Development, Decisions, Digital Marketing, Employees, Gen X, Gen Y, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Marketing, Networking, Performance, Productivity, Strategic Planning | 3 Comments

If You Want Loyalty, EARN It!

Hello friends! It’s been a while since my last post on this blog. For that, I apologize. However, my “vacation” from blogging was necessary so I could complete the work associated with my company’s next initiative that I’ll be announcing a little later on this year.

OK – back to the blog!

Do you know what they call a leader with no followers? Just another guy or gal. I can’t remember when I first heard that but whenever it was, it made an immediate impression on me.  Being a leader isn’t about titles and power. It isn’t about shouting orders at people. It isn’t about treating people as if they are your personal valets.

True leaders understand that in order to be effective and successful, their team members must be committed to the team and must have a deep loyalty to the team’s leader. Otherwise, the team members are just killing time and collecting a paycheck. Productivity suffers as a result and consequently so does profit.

Here are a few ways that leaders can create that commitment and earn the loyalty of those that they manage:

Stand Up – No one respects a wimpy leader. Employees want their leaders to stand up for them when standing up is needed. Great leaders know how to respectfully but persistently state their cases. Great leaders know how to deal with people that hang on to old ways of thinking. They are not afraid to remind “idea-blockers” that they are the experts in their disciplines – not in a boastful manner but in a confident manner. Great leaders also understand that they will not always win. But the efforts undertaken on behalf of the team are sure to be appreciated by the team members.

Reward – If your team does a great job on a particular initiative, give them a significant reward. Shouldn’t the company do that? In an ideal world, yes it should. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Sometimes a leader has to be creative and yes, maybe dig into his or her own pocket to show appreciation for a job well done. No one is suggesting that the leader splits a paycheck with the team. How about taking the team to a nice dinner as a reward? If a leader wants to create loyalty, he or she must praise the team for a job well done. Leaders that do these things will create buzz and momentum that is contagious to other teams in the organization. Perhaps other team leaders will follow suit. Then, the higher-ups will really start to take notice.

Sacrifice – Sometimes it’s necessary for a leader to “fall on the sword” and make sacrifices for the benefit of the team. This is one of the most difficult yet essential things that a leader does. Our natural instinct is to continue the battle. Great leaders are able to overcome the desire to come out on top if being right would mean other people would be hurt or humiliated. Great leaders don’t pass the buck. They don’t blame others for their shortcomings. They don’t cower from taking responsibility for the performance of the team. They take the hit and move on. And the team members notice this. When they do notice, they commit to working harder and smarter so that their leader (whom they respect and appreciate) doesn’t have to take any more heat.

What are some of the ways that you create loyalty and commitment at your organization?

Please share your comments!

 

Posted in Building Relationships, Leadership, Management, Performance, Productivity | 4 Comments

Sneak Preview of My New Book

Hello everyone!  In this post, I wanted to give you a sneak preview of my new book that is due out a little later this year.

What follows is the Introduction  section.  I hope you enjoy it and will be eager to see more. I also welcome your comments and feedback – let me know what you think!

Introduction

The process of decision-making goes something like this:

It starts with a spark- a person wants something.

Up next is the debate that happens every time (whether consciously or subconsciously.) But it does indeed happen EVERY TIME.

Then there’s data collection. This is the information-gathering stage. (You may be thinking that the data collection happens before the debate stage. Incorrect. Keep reading to understand why.)

Now comes debate #2 – the Great Debate. The first debate was your brain’s way of deciding whether or not to enter into the data collection stage. Compared to the Great Debate, this first one is almost inconsequential. Very few decisions are stopped cold in their tracks during the first debate. But this one, the Great Debate, is the critical juncture. It is the crossroads of the decision-making process. And it has several stages that go something like this:

Need vs. Want – The classic scenario that we’ve all heard so much about.

Now or Later – This could also be considered the “is it the right time” part of the Great Debate. Throughout human history, fortunes have been won and lost at this stage.

Why this product, service, or action? Are there alternatives? This is the height of the bargaining phase – when decision-makers look for the same kind of product, service, or action that may be cheaper. Or they look for shortcuts to achieve the desired results. During this phase, the old saying, “you get what you pay for” is sometimes ignored or is otherwise lost to oblivion. DISCLAIMER: It should not be inferred that the most expensive option is the best or the least expensive option is the worst. However, there have been and will continue to be instances where both consumers and businesses realize that there is some truth to “you get what you pay for.”

Is this a priority? This is a critical phase. Prioritizing needs, goals, and desires leads to better decision-making. If something isn’t identified as a priority, then any decision-making with regard to the non-priority item should be put aside to allow the priority items or projects to assume……well….priority.

Finally, the decision-maker comes to the final and most important question of them all. This is the question that your brain REQUIRES you to answer before all of the wiring (and whatever else goes on up there)  will allow you to make a decision to buy, sell, do, invest, create, destroy, build, write, say, sign, hire, fire, ………the list goes on and on….and on.

For the consumer, it is the most important determinant as to whether he or she will buy anything. For the business owner, it’s what will ultimately lead to a decision regarding whether or not to do business with a vendor or service provider. Foe everyone, it is the very nature and basis of every single decision that we have ever made or will make in the future. The question that must be answered is simple enough in its wording but stunningly profound in its effect on human events ranging from the mundane and routine to the life-changing and significant.

That question is: What’s In It For Me? Or, WIIFM. for short. The acronym WIIFM will be used copiously throughout this book so remember what it means!

In the following chapters, we will explore how WIIFIM affects everything that we do. We’ll look at how a thorough understanding of WIIFM greatly benefits business owners that are trying to attract more business, service providers that are in the market for new clients, entrepreneurs that boldly go where they’ve never gone before, leaders that manage employees who are responsible for executing on action plans and reaching goals, and employees that want to further their careers and lives through professional and personal development.

By the end of this book, you’ll have a better understanding of WIIFM, its psychological underpinnings, and its role in your life, your business, and your career. You’ll be more equipped to understand how you and other people come to the decisions that are ultimately made – decisions which alter the course of both the present and the future for better or for worse.

Let’s begin.

Posted in Building Relationships, Loans, Lending, Marketing, Management, Business Development, Gen X, Gen Y, Strategic Planning, Leadership, Change, Training, Performance, Networking, Innovation, Succession Planning, Conflict, Collaboration, Human Resources, Employees, Decisions | Leave a comment

3 Really LAME Excuses to Avoid Making Decisions

The most effective leaders in history have a lot of things in common. To name a few: a great work ethic, high moral and ethical standards, an understanding of the principle of accountability, the ability to assemble a team of close advisors, etc.

There is another that is sometimes overlooked. Nevertheless, it is always present. The most effective leaders aren’t afraid to make decisions.

Here are 3 of the lamest excuses that ineffective leaders use to avoid any semblance of making a decision.

The timing isn’t quite right – Human beings are imperfect. Therefore, we are unable to do anything perfectly. That includes making important decisions. If leaders continue to use this ridiculous excuse to “kick the can down the road,” what they’ll find is that the opportunity that they did have is now gone because they put it off while waiting for the “time to be right.”

It might not work – It might not. Plenty of decisions have been made and the results weren’t exactly what were expected. That’s life. That’s business. But if you want to be an outstanding leader, you must accept that part of your job is to make the decisions that you think are the right ones by analyzing the potential services or solutions, trusting your gut, and taking action. Many organizations are stagnant. They are rudderless. They merely exist. More often than not, one of the biggest reasons for these unfortunate situations is that there exists a crippling fear of doing anything different because “it might not work.” Leaders that continuously use this crazy excuse need to step aside and make room for people that aren’t afraid to take calculated risks.

We have too much going on right now – that’s a good thing! Would you rather have the alternative? It’s perfectly acceptable and necessary to prioritize tasks. However, once you’ve decided which projects are the priorities, it’s important to move on those. But what happens sometimes is that people use this lame excuse to avoid moving on anything. A lot of organizations conduct planning retreats after the summer to prepare for the next year. This is the perfect time to identify the strategic initiatives that are the priorities for the organization. Once identified and agreed upon, make sure to budget for the various action steps for each initiative.  Will things “come up” that may need immediate attention? Of course! That’s why you also budget an appropriate amount of money and resources for those items. But you make every reasonable effort to not let this extra “stuff” get in the way with the existing priority list.

No more excuses! Trust your gut, rely on your experience, gather all of the pertinent information and then…..DECIDE!

 

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Strategic Planning season has already started! If you’re still looking for a facilitator, perhaps Your Full Potential, LLC can help. Click HERE for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Budgets, Business Development, Change, Collaboration, Decisions, Digital Marketing, Employees, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Marketing, Performance, Strategic Planning, Training | Leave a comment

Is The Paper Resume Dead?

Originally posted on CU Insight – 5/22/2014

Not yet. But I think that day is coming. Frankly, I’m not too upset about it either.

I have never been fond of deciding whether or not to grant a job applicant an actual interview based solely on what he or she wrote in a resume. Anyone that knows me or has heard me speak at conferences on the subject of recruiting will also tell you that I have strong opinions on relying solely on the number of years of experience that an applicant has to in order to decide whether to grant interviews. I think both of these tactics are foolish. Here’s why:

In the past, people (myself included) were told that you have to fit everything on ONE page or your resume will be immediately tossed. I remember trying to do that early in my career. I was no stranger to 8-point fonts. As an executive, I also remember trying to read such resumes with squinted eyes and in some cases, a magnifying glass. How ridiculous! But, it all had to be on one page, right? While the one page rule has been relaxed a bit over time, there are still people that cram their whole lives into their resumes. And it’s just silly.  To be honest, I don’t care what you did on your summer breaks 15 years ago and I certainly don’t want you to have to try to fit what you think are the most important achievements of your career onto just one page.

As for experience – how many qualified, smart, and passionate applicants don’t even bother to apply for a position because they see that spirit-killing last line in the posting? You know the one: “must have XX years experience.” Don’t get me wrong; experience is indeed necessary for many positions. I am not arguing otherwise. However, I don’t think that a candidate should be disqualified solely because he or she only has 8 years of experience rather than the requested 10. Sadly, entirely too many professionals are subject to “weeding out” based on that one criterion, i.e., number of years of experience.   Never mind that in those 8 years, the applicant has achieved more than many people do in their entire careers. Never mind that due to his or her achievements in those 8 years, the applicant commands more respect as a leader than the guy with 25 years of experience that will eventually land the job. There is no possible way that a recruiter can learn everything there is to know about a person from a resume. There is no way to effectively gauge a person’s entire skill set, personality, passion, drive, commitment, and ability to do a job from reading a few words on a piece (or pieces) of paper.

So, what will happen to the paper resume? We are already starting to hear about organizations using more advanced tactics to find job candidates. An applicant’s social media footprint is being looked at. More employers want applicants to provide a video or another kind of media besides the resume. As the marketplace continues to evolve and professionals become more tech-savvy, I think that the days of the paper resume are numbered. And I hope that intuition and gut-feeling take on bigger roles in selecting job applicants for the next step.

Walt Disney never put too much focus on the number of years of experience a person had. He wanted to know if the person had the right attitude and the potential to do the job well.  And as far as successful employees are concerned, he did pretty well.

Perhaps recruiters and human resources personnel will consider these criteria in addition to the others.

 

 

Posted in Building Relationships, Change, Credit Unions, Employees, Gen X, Gen Y, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Performance, Succession Planning | 1 Comment

3 Simple Steps for Market Growth

There are a lot of ways that organizations can increase their market share.  With all of the additional competition, companies must find ways to make consumers more quality-conscious instead of being price-conscious.  Here are 3 steps that, if executed properly, should lead to more business:

Brag – when promoting your business, you may have to throw humility out the window.  I’m not saying that you become arrogant or offensive.  I am saying that there is nothing wrong with letting everyone know just how great you really are.  Consumers want to know exactly how you plan on improving their lives.  So tell them.  Don’t be shy.  Be bold, be confident, and undeterred in this regard.

Ask your best patrons to become your company’s Ambassadors – The most effective and reliable marketing is word-of-mouth.  You want people telling everyone with a pulse how great your organization is.  Encourage them to do so.  Reward them for their loyalty and their efforts.  The more you show your appreciation, the more appreciative and generous they will be!  

Understand your market better than anyone else – I’m often amazed at how many companies create marketing and market penetration plans without having conducted any research at all on the markets that they want to serve.  It is imperative that you collect and analyze market data.  You will need to identify your company’s target market (based on the data) and only then will you be in a position to create effective and appropriate marketing plans.

Until next time….

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Are you ready to put all of this into action?  Your Full Potential, LLC offers comprehensive strategic planning services that include what was covered in this article and much more!  Obtain a quote today!

Posted in Building Relationships, Business Development, Change, Digital Marketing, Employees, Gen X, Gen Y, Global Network, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Management, Marketing, Networking, Performance, Strategic Planning, Training | 2 Comments