Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Internal Communications - A Key Part of Effective Strategy Execution

One oft-forgotten practice which should be considered even more important during this turbulent time is communications within your company. As you might consider once you reflect on the situation within your company, people are concerned about their futures, the future of the company and generally how things are going.

There are a number of elements which you should include in your planning for your internal communications:

First: To whom are you addressing your communication? When you want to get a message across to some or all of your company personnel, you should determine which group you are addressing, so your communication is couched in terms that are meaningful and relevant to that specific group. Generally, one doesn't speak to engineers the same way that one addresses accounting or purchasing people. This is not because they are not all capable of absorbing your message, but rather because you want to make it as easy for them to get the points you are trying to deliver in the most effective manner for them to understand and remember.

Second: After determining how you should address each group to get the best from the interaction, you need to be very specific about the message you are trying to communicate. As a good leader you need to be clear, unambiguous and direct. Do not hint at what you are trying to say, bring it out loud and clear. Be specific and don't ramble. Don't make excuses and don't apologize for laying out the facts and their impacts on the company. It is important for everyone hearing your message to believe that you are being open and forthright. If they can't trust you to be honest with them, they won't accept the validity of your message.

Third: Be sure to take time to build your message carefully. It is imperative that you say what you need to say, and that you are very clear in what you are planning to do. Think about what the impact of your words will be on your audience. Don't scare them if there is little reason to do so. But don't pull your punches either. Be sure you have a clear understanding of not only what you will say, but how you will say it, as both parts of the message will be read by your audience, and if your body language and actual words are not consistent with your intent, they will perceive this, and will not trust your communication.

Fourth: Make your message one which they will remember. As stated above, clarity and consistency are vital. Be clear, be memorable to the extent appropriate to the message, and the audience will respond as well as can be expected under the circumstances. In order to get your point across, follow the old rule about speeches: Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you have told them. Do all of this in terms that your audience will respond to and will remember.

Fifth: The final point to make here is that once you make a commitment to your audience, you must live up to it. If circumstances change in such a way to prevent your being able to follow through as you originally committed, you need to bring the group back together, explain what has happened that prevents your meeting your commitment, and explain to the group what the new direction is, and why it is appropriate for you to change direction.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Five Hot Trends In Getting Hot Prospects For Your Business Today

Is your business in touch with current consumer behaviour? Are you well informed about your market segment and how your target consumers are living their lives, what their most into these days, and if their online activities have drastically changed over the last couple of years? It's important for any business to obtain current market data, not just to survive, but to actually thrive and to make a better transition into the future. Information, as you already know by now, is power so here are five hot trends on how your company can get the hot prospects it needs.

Get your business on mobile phones. People have changed the way they get on the Internet as handheld devices like tablets and smartphones turn into mobile computers. No longer will you find your consumer waiting to get home to log onto his or her computer to check out a website, purchase products, or read their email. ComScore predicts that the number of mobile users will topple desktop users by 2014 as multi-device ownership (people who have mobile phones also have tablets) skyrockets to 308 percent since 2011. You can even send coupons to your valued customers as Prosper Mobile Insights finds that 82 percent are open to getting coupons on their smartphones and tablets; 51 percent prefer getting coupons through email, 31.9 percent said they'd prefer getting a QR code and scanning it in the store, and 31 percent want to get it through text messages.

Distribute your content through social media like Facebook or Twitter to drive traffic to your website and to promote your business. If your business goals do not include social media marketing customised for one of these highly popular sites, you may be losing out on valuable prospects. Just consider how a mass merchant gets an average of 2.1 million fans and retailers of toys and hobbies have an average of 1.6 million fans on Facebook.

Use forums. Forums, whether they're on social media pages or blogs, will allow you to provide a valuable solution to prospects who may be asking questions that relate to your products or services. When you offer an answer and you do enough of these forums to build credibility for your brand or company, it's only a matter of time when prospects come to you to buy a product or obtain a service.

Show it, don't tell it. Use image-driven campaigns and not just written content. People want to watch a quick, engaging video about your new service or product rather than read a 500-word article about it. So produce videos for your website, your social media page, and your YouTube channel. Consider doing a web TV show. Present stunning images related to your business on Pinterest.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Competing in a Tough Market

"It's tough out there!" and I think unless some kind of economic miracle happens within the next few months it will continue to be a challenging climate for businesses of all kinds and all descriptions.

I feel that the word 'magic' could be thought of as a great metaphor for business activities and approaches and so the word become a much used acronym for many vital business processes.

It is my intention to offer a short series of 'magical thoughts' for businesses and and entrepreneurs which sum up some important ideas for the survival and success of businesses.

This article focuses upon the "Magic Formula for Success"

M - make good decisions based upon information, feedback, research and reflection

A - know what it is you are trying to achieve

G - generate a plan to meet those needs, review it but follow it

I - investigate other ideas and possibilities carefully - be creative

C - collaborate with trusted colleagues, businesses and services.

All pretty obvious stuff, but the kind of things which are sometimes overlooked and are always worth thinking about.

Making Good Decisions.

This implies that you know what kind of information you need; the kind of metrics you will be able to use and have the thinking skills to make effective (not emotional) decisions.

Edward De Bono has frequently noted how often people think they are thinking clearly when they are, quite frankly, not. As William James said, 'most people think they are thinking when they are simply rearranging their prejudices!"

Good thinking is about process based upon critical, evaluative and creative thought processes built around accurate information.

Knowing what your Aims are.

Again this seems like an obvious thing, but as a business can you clearly state your aims in terms of what you need to survive economically and how these aims link to your core values and attitudes?

In an economic crisis it is easy to see that some businesses forget their higher goals in the race to capture income and increase profits - which of course is a very short term view.

Generate a plan to meet aims

Business plans are those things which small businesses in particular generate for other people (i.e. Banks) and forget how vitally important for reviewing progress. They are not meant to be dusty documents, but active, evolving and dynamic records of a businesses ambitions. In all businesses cash flow is king, so actively reviewing plans is a vital strategy when it comes to survival in an economic downturn.