Category Archives: Marketing

Alice down the rabbit hole – or customer service and schizophrenia in the downturn!

I’m reading ‘Surviving Change – A Manager’s Guide’ from Harvard Business Press. It advises on managing in the downturn and opens with a discussion of different survival strategies – hard and soft!  In fact, most change is a mixture of the two and the strategy chosen usually reflects the underlying culture of the organisation!   How the mix works is critical because if it is not well managed it can become fraught with conflict and demoralising for people in the organisation; it can lead to a schizophrenic approach to customers.

The ‘hard’ approach to change is usually short-term and about economics  – cut costs and increase cash flow! If a unit, or an employee, cannot demonstrate how they add financial value, out they go with very little ceremony or concern for personal well-being. The change is usually hard driven from the top with little wider engagement.  Often consultants advise the magic inner circle and HR consultants deal with casualties that might cost the organisation.

Soft change focuses on developing the organisation to meet new conditions with high engagement across the piece from the leaders. Employees trust in the informal contract they have with the organisation and work towards its well being.

Sadly experience shows that neither soft or hard approaches work in isolation.  The hard approach works in the short term but with that alone you are usually left with a demoralised and disloyal workforce – your best employees probably left at a rate of knots when you started the change.  The soft approach can take years to embed and the market doesn’t stand still!

Most successful change is a combination of hard (rationalisation well managed) and soft (employee engagement and encouragement to learn new skills).  But if change is a reflection of underlying culture and that has conflicts within it, a change can put the whole organisation out of kilter.  What I’m thinking of here is an organisation that pays lip service to soft but is really hard.  I believe in the downturn this is likely to be an increasing problem, particularly in the service sector.

Clients of service companies, particularly in the UK public sector, like to hear how well the company manages its employees.  A tender panel may take great interest in training and development approaches but, of course, the final decision is usually made on the keenest price.  In the present climate the client is likely to continue to seek cost reductions, which mean lots of change to be managed.  This can lead a company into a kind of schizophrenia.  It flags up all the good things its HR team would like to do but finds itself increasingly having to make hard, and very short-term, decisions.  As a consequence, its own employees and its middle managers in particular, become confused and a little cynical!  In turn this impacts on the service delivered to the client – so the client pushes harder!

What is the answer.? Well maybe it starts with a little more honesty on both sides!   Perhaps clients should start being more realistic about how they expect their service companies to manage for the price they are prepared to pay.  Perhaps the companies should be a little more honest with clients, and  with themselves, about the real costs of delivering ‘cuts’  At the end of the day, a client gets what they pay for and it they want to see services well managed with employees committed to the services they deliver, they need to recognise there will always be a cost even in the downturn!

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WHY YOU NEED A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY!

If you had any doubts about the value and potential of  using social media, check out 30 Interesting, Useless and Pointless Facts on Jeff Bulla’s blog at the following link!  Don’t be put off by the title!

You begin to understand why you can’t afford not to know to about Social Media whether you are in the public, private or community sectors!

Here is just one example and three facts!

Generation Y awareness of the Ford Fiesta before Ford started their social media program was 0%. It was 37% as of a month ago and stands at 58% at 3 December 2009.

25% of Ford’s marketing spend is on digital/social media!

Ford is the only US Auto company not to take a government grand!

Now you begin to see the possibilities now that using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook may bring?  We have some tips for developing a Social Media Strategy at this link

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GET THAT JOB – 15 INTERVIEW TIPS FOR JOB HUNTERS

Its more important than ever right now to do well at interviews.  Don’t lose your vital opportunity because you have not done your home work!

  1. Research as much as you can about the company – products, services, markets, competitors, trends, current activities, priorities.
  2. Prepare your answers for the type of questions you’ll be asked, especially, be able to say why you want the job, what your strengths are, how you’d do the job, what your best achievements are.
  3. Prepare good questions to ask at the interview - see the section below.
  4. Related to the above, request a copy of the company’s employment terms and conditions or employee handbook before the interview, in order to save time covering routine matters during the interview.
  5. Assemble hard evidence (make sure it’s clear and concise) of how what you’ve achieved in the past – proof will put you ahead of those who merely talk about it.
  6. Have at least one other interview lined up, or have a recent job offer, or the possibility of receiving one from a recent job interview, and make sure you mention it to the interviewer.
  7. Make sure your resume/cv is up to date, looking very good and even if already supplied to the interviewer take three with you (one for the interviewer, one for you and a spare in case the interviewer brings a colleague in to the meeting).
  8. Get hold of the following material and read it, and remember the relevant issues, and ask questions about the areas that relate to the organisation and the role. Obtain and research: the company’s sales brochures and literature, a trade magazine covering the company’s market sector, and a serious newspaper for the few days before the interview so you’re informed about world and national news. Also worth getting hold of: company ‘in-house’ magazines or newsletters, competitor leaflets, local or national newspaper articles featuring the company.
  9. Review your personal goals and be able to speak openly and honestly about them and how you plan to achieve them.
  10. Ensure you have two or three really good reputable and relevant references, and check they’d each be happy to be contacted.
  11. Adopt an enthusiastic, alert, positive mind-set.  Follow the link.
  12. Particularly think about how to deal positively with any negative aspects – especially from the perspective of telling the truth, instead of evading or distorting facts, which rarely succeeds.
  13. Try to get some experience of personality tests. Discover your personality strengths and weaknesses that would be indicated by a test, and be able to answer questions positively about the results. (Do not be intimidated by personality testing – expose yourself to it and learn about yourself)  More at link
  14. Think about what to wear.  Do you know the company dress code? When in doubt wear a smart business suit!
  15. Some jobs invite or offer opportunity to re-define or develop the role itself. It might be a existing role or a new position. If so prepare for this. Most jobs in fact offer this potential, but sometimes it is a stated requirement.

Asking Questions to Impress the Interviewer

A key to asking great questions at your interview is to ask questions that impress the interviewer. Most candidates just ask about routine details that they think they ought to know, or which they think of on the spur of the moment, but which will probably be provided in due course anyway in documentation about terms and conditions. This is meaningless   and should be avoided.

Instead focus on the job priorities and scope, on the organisation and ways to make a difference or an improvement. Try to think strategically like a manager, and for very senior positions, like the CEO. Try to adopt the mind-set of a helpful advisor who needs to ask helpful facilitative questions. Focus on the organisation not on your own needs.

Try to prepare and ask questions that make the interviewer think to themselves, “Wow, that’s a good question – this candidate has really thought about the role, and understands the sort of issues we need them to handle/the sort of responsibilities/initiatives we want them to take..”

Aim to ask questions that make the interviewer think, (depending on what the organisation and role requires), “Wow, that’s an unusual question – this candidate is special – they are demonstrating to me that they understand people/understand about communications/have great integrity/a strong value system/great humanity/maturity/a good strategic mind/etc, etc.”

Think before the interview about what the successful candidate will be like – ask yourself beforehand, what great questions would the successful candidate ask? And then be that person.

When you research the job look into the sort of challenges the organisation is facing, and think how this affects the vacant role. What does the employer need from the successful applicant? How might the role be extended to contribute more to the organisation if the job were performed by a suitably positive and capable person ? (That’s you incidentally.) The job advert or job specification might give you some clues. Do your research so that you understand as much as possible about the priorities of the job position, and the organisation and its situation, and then think about the ways that the role could be extended to provide greater support towards achieving organisational challenges.

This sort of background thinking will help you to prepare questions that will seriously impress any interviewer, whatever the role. It is possible also to think of good positive impressive questions just by using what you know of the role and the sort of issues that face modern employers. The point is, you need to think about it and prepare beforehand.

The use of this material is free provided copyright (see below) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the www.businessballs.com website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organisational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.

© alan chapman 1995-2009

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10 PERSONAL BRANDING TIPS TO HELP IN YOUR JOB SEARCH

These tips will help you create and communicate a brand that will help employers choose you:  Remember you are the product, and the employer is the consumer. A clear and compelling career brand helps employers understand the benefits of your product and give you an advantage in the job market.

  1. Successful career brands weave together three A’s: Authentic image, Advantages, and Awareness. Project an image of your authentic self, focus on the advantages you offer in getting the job done, and make employers aware of those advantages.
    • Authentic Image: Your brand should be founded on authenticity. It should be about who you are, your work-life purpose and what you are committed to in life. As a starting point to develop your brand, brainstorm a list of all the things you are good at. Then identify your passion. Using your brainstormed list of what you’re good at, circle those items you are most passionate about. What is number one?
    • Advantages: Once you’ve identified your top pick, determine the advantages to that item. For instance, if you are good at resolving conflicts what could be the advantages to a new employer – greater cooperation among team members, which leads to enhanced productivity. List at least three distinct advantages for your brand.
    • Awareness: Internationally known consultant and author Alan Weiss, states that a brand is “an awareness factor.” Above all, look for opportunities to make the right people aware of your brand. Get on the radar screen. The best brand in the world is useless unless people are aware of it. Initiate an orchestrated campaign to “brandish” your brand. You can get your name out there by writing articles, speaking at association meetings, doing some voluntary work.
  2. Conduct some some analysis to determine what the market conditions are for your emerging brand. Is there a need for what you offer? Are companies hiring in that area? Are there competitors for what you want to do? If the answers to these questions are negative, consider fine-tuning your brand.
  3. Once you’ve determined your passionate competency and the market demand, begin to determine the best approach for positioning your brand. Think unique positioning. Are you the best at creating product marketing strategies, are you the first one to have mastered how to conduct electronic meetings for your work team, are you the most accomplished, award-winning sales professional in your company/industry?
  4. Branding can be accomplished through verbal and visual means. Verbal branding includes your sound bites and success stories, while visual branding is accomplished through your actions, attitude, and attire. Hone your product benefits into a short 3-Point Marketing Message that conveys your unique strengths. This message/elevator pitch should be a critical sound bite in your branding campaign.
  5. Create a statement on the benefits you bring to keep you focused in your search, help networking contacts know how to help you, and explain your value to interviewers. Align your statement with employer buying motivators, such as generating revenue, saving money, or solving a problem.
  6. Be prepared for the networking opportunities that abound, both internally and externally. Be ready with a sound bite that describes your unique brand. Mix and match your success stories and sound bites to create a comfortable yet compelling 2-Minute Introduction.
  7. Practice. You must be able to deliver your sound bites naturally, without appearing as though you’re reading a telemarketing script.
  8. Visual branding means you must look the part. Ask for wardrobe advice from someone who is successful and has a good sense of style. If uncertain about how to dress for a networking event or interview, err on the side of formality.
  9. Visual branding also means you must act the part. Candidly evaluate your mindset, beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes. Are these consistent with others in your field who have attained notable success?
  10. Find a person or two who will respectfully and selflessly support you in your commitment to shaping and enhancing your ideal image. A coach can be an ideal support person.

Branding will either contribute to or take away from the chemistry you want to create with employers. Remember to look for opportunities to deliver your brand. In doing so, you’ll bring value, benefits, and advantages to those you serve. Enjoy creating and communicating a clear and compelling brand!

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TAKING CONTROL OF BRAND ME

We’re all familiar with the need for marketing, advertising, PR and promotion of the brand of our company and our services, but what about us as the people behind the brand? Lesley Everett is an International Speaker and Personal Branding Expert and Coach.  Here are a couple of extracts from an article she wrote that appeared on line recntly.  You can find the complete article with 7 strides to improving your personal brand at the link below

“In today’s busy and time-limited world we often have to use intuition and gut-feel to make quick judgements, and the visual impression we give has a huge effect on the way others judge our inner values, such as professionalism, integrity, trust and credibility. In other words, our outer packaging gives others perceived clues as to our true character.”
“It’s about being yourself and individual, but having a strong personal brand is not just about what you wear – it’s about projecting a strong and consistent ‘personal brand’ image for yourself through the way you talk, the way you behave, your body talk and your sartorial and grooming skills, and then taking control of your visibility to manage your own PR   You could call it projecting a Brand Me image. “

Find IFAs and Financial Advisers at the financial social network : IFA Life -.

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LESSONS IN PERSONAL BRANDING

Increasingly you are judged on your contributions to the web – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogs etc.  You will gain an online persona – your personal brand – whether you want to or not.  This can affect large parts of your life and certainly gaining business and work opportunities.  Your personal brand really does matter and you can develop it as you wish!  If you make a positive effort it can make a major contribution to your success.

Benjamin Yoskovitz. is the CEO & co-Founder of Standout Jobs, a venture-backed startup founded in 2007. He is also a blog and social media consultant.  He has been an entrepreneur for 10+ years in the Web space, working extensively in web & software development. He is obsessed with creating things  and with customer service. The piece below is from his blog to which there is a link at the bottom. These are his thoughts, not mine, but I would love to hear what you think!

“ Personal Branding Lessons

Looking back, here are some thoughts from my own experiences building my personal brand:

  1. It’s never too late to start. In some respects I think it’s easier to start making a concerted effort to build and cultivate your personal brand once you’re older and you have a few years working experience. You know more, you’re more comfortable in your shoes, and you have some experience to rely on. There are still too many examples of young people screwing up in public (on Facebook or Twitter) and getting in trouble for it (although there aren’t that many examples, they’re just blown out of proportion.
  2. You know more than you realize. A lot of people seem afraid to speak up publicly and promote themselves because they don’t feel like they have anything to say. You’d be surprised what you know.
  3. What you know is valuable. And what you know is likely valuable to a bunch of people, even if you don’t realize it. As they say, Common sense isn’t all that common. Just think of the college graduate coming up after you into your field of expertise, and the difference between where that person is at and where you’re at…
  4. Connecting online is easier than you think. I was amazed at how easily I could connect online with people. I still remember some of those early connections – Liz Strauss, Becky McCray, Chris Cree, Mike Sansone, Terry Starbucker and so many more. It was easy to find people online (who shared my interests), get myself involved, and build out a valuable network.
  5. It takes time and commitment. Building your personal brand isn’t something you do once in awhile when you’re bored. It takes time and commitment, and it never stops. And doing it half-ass won’t get you anywhere.
  6. It’s fun. I’ve always enjoyed building my personal brand, and the activities that are involved with that online – blogging, connecting, helping others, asking for help. It’s a process you have to enjoy otherwise you won’t do it properly and invest the right time. Plus, there is a feedback loop – as you gain valuable connections, leads (for jobs or business), comments on your blog, etc. you’ll realize that all of that is worthwhile feedback on your efforts. And that’s motivating.
  7. Watch. Learn. Emulate. Do your own thing. Starting the process of building your personal brand doesn’t involve years of research or anything that hasn’t been done before. As Dan’s book proves – there are models for making this stuff work. I remember spending a good amount of time watching and learning, and then emulating what others were doing. It was natural to copy what seemed to be working. But over time you branch out, do your own thing, experiment and your own personality, brand, value emerges.
  8. Your personal brand will (and should) evolve. Don’t think of your personal brand as a static item. It’s not a resume that you submit once and forget about; it’s a living, breathing thing. It changes and evolves, just as you do. That’s OK and expected.

Personal branding works. I’m a perfect use case for it. And certainly not the only one! But ultimately, I’m convinced that building a strong personal brand can absolutely help in career success (be it finding a new job, moving up within your organization, changing careers, etc.) and in many cases is a necessity.”

Read more: “The Importance of Personal Branding” – http://www.instigatorblog.com/personal-branding-important/2009/04/15/#ixzz0DxJbbzQW&A

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AVOID THESE 10 NETWORKING BLUNDERS – ENLIGHTENED MARKETING BLOG

Networking is a key skill in finding new opportunities. Here is the introduction to an interesting piece by Samantha Hartley of Enlightened Marketing.  Not only is this piece interesting but she has lots of other useful resources at the link below.

“Last weekend I attended an Internet Marketing conference with 180 die-hard entrepreneurs.  Everyone there was hoping to connect with potential clients, partners and vendors.  There was quite a mix of people in the room, from millionaires to newbies.

For some reason, fabulous interpersonal networking is always a powerful learning experience. Lest you think I’m focused on the negative, I’ll point out that I had just about the best time ever at this conference.  It was the perfect trifecta of learning tons of stuff, meeting super people and feeling inspired about great information to share with you.

But, sometimes “negative teachers” model things for us in ways that help the lessons stick better.  So, keep a light heart as I share these networking blunders I observed recently…..”

More at Avoid These 10 Networking Blunders | Enlightened Marketing Blog.

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