Inbound Social Marketing and Nonprofits

April 29, 2013

socialmedforsocialgoodI recently read Heather Mansfield’s book, Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits. As I finished the book several thoughts came to my mind:

  1. Why have few nonprofits made major investments in inbound social marketing?
  2. How come nonprofits do not seem to understand the ROI or value of integrating social media across the organization?
  3. When will more nonprofits have a dedicated person for inbound social marketing?
  4. Why do many nonprofits think of inbound social marketing as an optional or add-on part of their overall marketing, PR, and donor development strategies?

As I thought through these questions, several possibilities came to mind based on my experience with nonprofits across the country:

  1. The entry cost for social media management and inbound marketing tools seems too expensive for many donation-based nonprofits.
  2. Determining the ROI for inbound social marketing campaigns means having a solid handle on existing data trends and intensely tracking and comparing the impact of social marketing campaigns across all channels.
    1. Integrating social across the organization is rarely heard of and usually relegated to the marketing department – never being considered for customer service, donor development, public relations, support, R&D, nor sales.
  3. Dedicated resources cost, yet if you want to do inbound marketing right it is worth the investment to get the right person or team in the door to monitor and manage it daily.
  4. Inbound social marketing is here to stay and works best when it is integrated across all departments: operations, HR, marketing, PR, IT, broadcasting, customer service, and development.

Certainly, some will push back on these ideas it is built on my experience interacting with nonprofits. It is unfortunate, but I can count on one hand the nonprofits that have a dedicated resource for inbound social marketing.

This is where Heather’s book comes in. Every nonprofit C-Level should read this book. While a few may see this resource as a primer, everyone will get nuggets of wisdom to apply to their organization. An excellent companion book for ROI and social analysis would be Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard.

Start With Benchmarks

Below is a list of benchmarks that Heather has seen through her years of experience with nonprofits. While these are not strictly to be adhered to they are excellent goals to shoot for.

  • 5000 fans/followers as a first tier goal
  • 10,000 fans/followers as a second tier goal
  • $2,500 – $10,000 annual budget for:
  • eNewsletters
  • List building
  • Donation landing pages
  • 20% email opens as a first tier goal
  • 25% – 35% email opens as a second tier goal
  • eNewsletter of 500 words with 1-2 updates per month
  • $12.48 is the average value of an email subscriber
  • Online giving should equal 25% of all organizational giving
  • 40-50 hours a week for social media management

Best Practices

I have also included a list of best practices that Heather recommends. Look at your organization and weigh these in light of your current situation.

Facebook

  • 6-10 posts per week (1-2 day)
  • Goal is for 1 comment and 3 thumbs up per each status update per 1000 fans
  • Ads equal $1.07 spent to acquire a fan

Twitter

  • “Old school” retweet 80% of the time
  • Auto-RT (retweet) 20%
  • 25% of all tweets should be replies and retweets
  • 4-6 tweets a day (20-30 tweets a week) 8am-8pm

YouTube

  • 1 video per quarter (3-4 per year)
  • Create a “Favorites” channel
  • Customize and brand your YouTube page

LinkedIn

  • 1-2 updates per week
  • 2 hours a month participating in online groups
  • Comment or participate 1-2 times per month to get your name out
  • Goal of group size should be 5000
  • Rotate “Manager’s Choice” discussions 2 times a month
  • Send group announcements 1 time a month featuring 3 articles
  • Launch a sub-group after the main group has reached 5000 members

Blog

  • Post 1-2 articles per week
  • Post summaries from events 1-2 days afterward
  • Choose only 1 category per post

FourSquare

  • Create a FourSquare Business Page
  • Add a reward for checking in or stopping by

Mobile

  • Link to mobile channels from mobile site
  • Text message open rate should be 90%
  • Send no more than 2-3 text messages per month
  • Expect to budget $10,000 to build a custom smartphone app
  • Promote apps for 2-3 months per year

Heather’s book if full of good information and how-to advice. You will especially like the checklists for getting started and tactical planning.

If you’re part of a nonprofit, purchase a copy of Social Media for Social Good and begin implementing the information immediately. If you have already been involved in social media marketing then compare your benchmarks for success to those above. You do not need to start with a big budget but in today’s world you have to be involved with inbound social marketing. It is not too late to catch up and you surely don’t want to get left behind.

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Competitive Behaviors versus Competitive Strategies

February 28, 2013

By Dan Coughlin

There has been a lot of talk lately about what the U.S. needs to do to be more competitive on the global stage. On March 13, 2009, Charlie Rose interviewed Michael Porter about his eight steps to fix the U.S. economy. Here is the link: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12809.

These types of conversations are about strategy. A strategy is a guideline for making decisions that affect the type of organization you will be and the type of activities your organization will do in the future. Strategies are important for businesses and for countries. Without a strategy there will likely be no connection between the types of activities people in the organization are doing or the people they are working to serve. Without a strategy, either written or unwritten, guiding your organization, you will likely end up with a very weak brand, virtually no effective innovations, and very poor results.

However, even with the most brilliant strategy, you cannot compete effectively as an organization if the people in the organization are not acting in a competitive way. In this article, I’m going to focus on how individual competitive behaviors can make an organization more successful. You can extrapolate these behaviors for the members of your organization, and for the citizens of the U.S. and for any other country in the world. We don’t just need the U.S. to be more competitive. We need every country to be more competitive. That’s how we raise the bar on a global basis. It starts with individuals behaving in competitive ways.

What Competitive Behaviors Are Not

There are certain behaviors that some people think demonstrate competitiveness, but I argue that they don’t. I call these behaviors The Three Killer B’s: bravado, boorish, and brutal. Bravado is synonymous with brag, bluster, and bombast, and it means a swaggering display of courage. Boorish is synonymous with uncouth, unmannered, and insensitive, and it means a coarse and blatant lack of sensitivity to the feelings or values of others. Brutal is synonymous with ferocious, gross, and rude, and means to act in a savage, cruel, and inhuman way. (Source: dictionary.com) Bragging about your past experiences, eating like an animal or dressing like a slob or swearing like a drunken fool just because no one will tell you to stop, and putting people down and having to win every single conversation in the hallway does not make a person competitive. Repulsive perhaps, but not competitive.

Talking with bravado, acting boorish, or being brutal might intimidate other people in the short term, but they do not help the intimidator or his or her organization compete more successfully. There is a dramatic difference between intimidating people and competing successfully.

Look for Analogous Competitive Situations

I suggest you think of a competitive situation you’ve been in outside of the business world. It could be sports, music, acting, academics or some other activity where you had to compete against other people or your own past performance in order to win. You can then use insights from that activity to see more clearly how to be competitive in the business world. For me, sports provide that analogy.

Competitive Business Behavior #1:
Define Winning

Winning in sports is very easy to understand. You get a schedule of games to play in, and then in each game you either win or lose. At the end of the season, you either win the championship or not. In practice many drills are set up to immediately determine whether or not you won in a particular activity.

Winning in business is not always as short term or easy to figure out. However, in order to compete, you have to define what winning means in your role as a business leader and you have to be able to measure it.

Some parts of business are easy to define in terms of winning: growing revenue, reducing cost, increasing profit, beating last year’s sales numbers, adding five new customers, and so on.

Other times winning is not as obvious, but these aspects can be more important in terms of being successful over the long term. This might include improving the reliability of small parts in a product that no one ever sees, reducing the complexity of a customer’s instruction guide for one of your products, or improving the impact of a presentation on an audience member’s future behaviors, which can only be loosely measured by anecdotal information down the road and somewhat by his or her actual results.

I like to think about Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios. It takes them four years to make a film, and then over the course of a few weekends their financial success is largely determined. Certainly they include box office receipts and DVD sales and video downloads as one way of defining whether or not they won, but I also believe they define winning as improving the quality of the images and the development of their characters and the impact of the message within the film.

Within your role in your organization, what would have to happen for you to be able to say you’re winning? I’m not talking about your title or income or authority level. Those are by-products of winning. Increasing your salary so you can do meaningful things for other people might very well be fueling your energy at work, but that’s not the type of winning I’m referring to. I’m talking about what would have to happen in terms of an outcome for your organization in order for you to say that you and your team have won? If you don’t know how to define a victory, then how can you compete?

In order to win in business, you can’t just plow through a ton of activities and work a million hours and call yourself a winner. You actually have to impact some outcome, some measure of success. What is yours?

Competitive Business Behavior #2:
Prepare to Win

If you’re a competitor, you don’t just show up and perform. You prepare as well as you can to deliver a winning performance. I think if people spent less time talking about being competitive and more time preparing to win in their organizations, they would actually become much more competitive. Talking about winning is in-the-public-eye, exciting and sexy. Preparing to win is behind-the-scenes, mundane, and ordinary. Take that improved instruction manual as an example. No one in the media is going to write a front-page story about how much easier it was for customers to understand the instruction manual or how it helped the customer to assemble the product in 40% less time, but that’s an example of winning within an organization that helps the organization to be much more competitive in the long run. To improve the instruction manual perhaps the person studied the competition’s materials and studied instruction manuals from other industries. Maybe this person prepared himself or herself by taking courses on effective writing. All of this behind-the-scenes preparation pays off in fewer customer complaints and more loyal customers.

Competitive Business Behavior #3:
Bring an Intense, Sustained Desire to Win

Do you show up just for the paycheck, or do you have an intense, burning desire to win within the framework of how you have defined winning?

Let’s switch back to my sports analogy. The athletes regardless of their sport who win consistently over the long term have a burning desire to constantly prepare and improve within their sport.

It doesn’t matter what role you have or what industry you work in. If you want to be a competitive person at work, you have to have a burning desire to do what you do as well as you can do it. I’ve been writing monthly articles on business leadership at this desk since September 1999, and right now I’m trying my very best to craft a message that will hopefully have a tremendous impact on your competitiveness as a business leader. This article might not help you, but I have an intense desire to try to help you be a great business leader. What is your intense desire at work? What are you willing to work for?

Competitive Business Behavior #4:
Persevere through Challenges

Life is difficult. These are the three famous opening words from Scott Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled. They are powerful because they are true. On the road to winning you are going to face challenges on a daily basis. We all know that. We also all know that we have to persevere in order to win. The tricky part is to actually keep going. This is where a sense of purpose comes in. You need a purpose, a reason for working, a reason to be competitive, a reason to keep on keeping on. What is yours? Why do you want to win at work? Do you want a greater salary so you can provide for your family and pay college tuitions and help your aging parents? Those are noble reasons to keep on keeping on.

There are other reasons why people persevere. They want to leave a legacy of having mattered. They want, as the late Steve Jobs used to say, to put a “dint in the universe.” They want to fulfill something deep inside of themselves. These are also noble reasons to keep on keeping on.

For an athlete to compete, he or she has to persevere within a practice, a game, a season, and a career. For a business leader to compete, he or she has to persevere within a meeting, a project, an organization, and with suppliers and customers. You have to keep going in order to have an opportunity to win.

Competitive Business Behavior #5:
Analyze Performances and Improve in the Details

Being competitive doesn’t mean that you have to be always performing. Sometimes, or maybe more like a LOT of times, you need to stop doing and step back and reflect on what you’ve done. Look at your performance and ask yourself what you’re doing that is helping your chances of winning, what you are doing that is hurting your chances of winning, and what you could be doing that might increase your chances of winning. Reflection and discernment are perhaps the two most underrated aspects of competitive business behaviors, but they are two of the most important. Rather than wasting time on bravado and boorish, brutal behaviors, I encourage you to step away from your activities and really think about what would make them even more effective.

One caveat: don’t cheat. Cheating might help you “win” in the short term, but it can also ruin your career and destroy your organization. Winning only counts if you are competing in an honest way.

Competitive Business Behavior #6:
Be Comfortable with Other People Getting Uncomfortable

On the road to trying to win you will likely encounter people who simply don’t want to put in the physical or mental effort necessary to win on a consistent basis. It’s okay to be honest and professional with them and to point out in a very clear way why they need to make some adjustments. This is where your leadership skills come into play. To me, business leadership means influencing how other people think so they make decisions that improve results for the organization in a sustainable way. That’s a long way of saying that business leadership is about competing to win. As Tom Landry, the long-time coach of the Dallas Cowboys, used to say, “Coaching is about getting people to do what they don’t want to do so they can achieve what they want to achieve.”

Even if you have hired competitive people, you are likely going to make them uncomfortable in some way at some point in time. That’s okay. It may very well be that discomfort, okay let’s call it pain, that will help them to learn how to be more competitive in the future.

If you’ve hired people who are not competitive and who aren’t willing to learn how to compete, then you are facing a very difficult decision. Do you move forward with folks who are friendly and who do a good job but who are unlikely to do what it takes to win as an organization, or do you decide to move on without them? Competitiveness and competitive behaviors are essential elements in a winning organization. I encourage you to teach and develop competitive behaviors in your organization, but also realize that some people are not going to want to compete in order to continually improve and to press on for victory. In those cases, you have to decide what you are going to do. It’s not about bravado, boorishness, or brutality. You can still maintain professionalism and integrity in whatever you decide to do.

Conclusion

Intelligent strategies that affect the type of business you will be in and the types of activities your organization will do in the future are important to consider carefully and to create.

However, an organization will not be competitive in the marketplace, and a country won’t be competitive in the world, just because it has a good competitive strategy. What organizations and countries need are employees and citizens who consistently demonstrate competitive behaviors. There is nothing in the world that is wrong with being competitive, as long as we’re clear about what that means. Competitive behaviors include defining what winning means, preparing to win, maintaining a burning desire to win, persevering through obstacles, analyzing performances, and influencing other people even if it means causing them to get very uncomfortable.

About Dan Coughlin

Visit Dan at www.thecoughlincompany.com

Dan Coughlin works with senior-level executives and managers to improve their impact as business leaders on teamwork, execution, innovation, and branding. His clients include McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Abbott, GE, Marriott, Coca-Cola, Shell, Toyota, Boeing, BJC HealthCare, RE/MAX, Subway, St. Louis Cardinals, Jack in the Box, Denny’s, Prudential, Land O’Lakes, ACE Hardware, Holder Construction, Kiewit, McCarthy, and more than 200 other organizations.


The Collapse Of Distinction – Book Review

August 24, 2011

Collpase Of Distinction by Scott McKainBy Eric Brown

It has taken me a while to write this review. Not from lack of reading time, I assure you, I often have 2-3 books going at once. Scott McKain’s book, The Collapse Of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails, is not a book you skim through. I found myself taking it a bite-at-a-time. I often paused to reflect on and look for ways to apply the action steps outlined in the book. I have many pages dog-eared and chunks of the content underlined.

Some of the questions early in the book that bear reflection are:

  • How can your customers distinguish you from your competition?
  • Do you bring a higher value to customers?
  • Besides product and price, what do you really sell?
  • Why would your customer pay for you over your competition?

If you are new to brand development or in the process of reviving your brand, answering these initial questions may be all you need in order to set yourself head and shoulders above your competitors. Yet, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not process the remainder of McKain’s material.

Understanding The 3 Destroyers

According to the author, there are 3 destroyers of distinction:

  1. Incremental Advances – emulation; replicating small advances your competitors make.
  2. New Competitors – new challenges; trying to be like competitors and not staying on top of the competitive landscape.
  3. Familiarity Breeds Complacency – customer boredom; being so familiar you are taken for granted.

Think about it – what have you changed in the last year about yourself or your organization to freshen the approach with your customers and constituents?

Don’t Be Different – Be Distinct!

McKain goes on to define what he calls “The Ebert Effect” named after movie critic, Roger Ebert.

When people, from their perspective, are inundated with indistinguishable choices, they perceive a product, service, approach, or experience with a specific point of differentiation to be superior.

This means creating small strategies that are recognizable as different from your competition. This is only one step to being different in the customers eyes. We are encouraged to move toward being distinct. The only way to do this, says McKain, is to create a foundation of distinction built on the following four pillars:

  • Clarity – Who are you? Be specific about what your organization is and is not.
  • Creativity – McKain says, “Creativity without clarity is devoid of distinction.” What creative strategies are you employing to enhance the quality of customer contacts?
  • Communication – Know the benefits of compelling story telling. Tweak your distinct communication for your audiences.
  • Customer Experience Focus – Create a unique customer centric experience that cements loyalty.

Each of the pillars works with the next. You cannot have one without the others if you wish to truly be distinct.

Final Thoughts

The book was more than a business book, it was a work book. It is laid out for those people who have the time to consume the book page by page. It also has executive summaries at the end of each chapter followed by action steps to put the material into practice – which I would highly recommend.

The publisher, Thomas Nelson, also added a unique feature. Published as a “Nelson Free” title allows the buyer access to three formats for the price of one! I got the hardback version and that gave me access to both an ebook and an audio version of the book. At this writing, it looks as though Thomas Nelson has continued this practice with only a small handful of their titles. A nice perk but not a must-have for many readers.

Nevertheless, if you are wanting to improve your brand distinction, The Collapse Of Distinction, is definitely worth the read. It is full of practical tips throughout and resources at the back of the book that can help you dig further into differentiating your company from the myriad of others vying for consumer attention.

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Enjoy!


10 Practical Tips For Facebook

May 19, 2011

When it comes to social media tools like Facebook, we are often asked, “How can I get more mileage out of [Facebook]?” and “How can I leverage Facebook for growing my organization?”

With the recent interface changes and the opportunity to reach over 500 million active users, Facebook has become the social media tool of choice. This month, we want to give you our 10 Practical Tips for Facebook.

  1. Create a Facebook Page
    Most users start with a Facebook Profile. Profiles are intended for personal use. Facebook Pages are for business use, and offer a more robust set of features for content management. Facebook has even provided instructions for converting your Profile to a Page.
  2. Establish Your “Vanity” URL
    This is the customized extension for your Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/MyAwesomeCompany. This will make it easy for marketing and publishing your Facebook web address. You can get a personalized URL after your Page has been “Liked” by at least 25 people.
  3. Post Regularly
    We recommend posting with the same frequency every other day and on weekends (we typically recommend posts in the mornings). This is the time you will get the most amounts of interaction, and that is the strength behind Facebook. We also recommend having multiple Page Administrators so in the event you are out sick or unable to publish, another administrator can jump in.
  4. Take Part in the Conversation
    Your followers want to feel a sense of connection to you—a sense of community. Only posting information without responding to comments makes people feel ignored and not valued.
  5. Be Authentic
    Every organization has a “tone”. Remember on Facebook, people expect you to be real and a little casual. Don’t be afraid of this. Show that your authentic responses are coming from a person by adding your name to the end of a company-related post.
  6. Metrics are Your Friend
    Use Facebook Insights to see how your Page is being used. You can review statistics on wall posts, page views, discussion topics, and photos views. Also, “listen” to the conversations happening on your Page. This will help you gauge audience interest.
  7. Add Images, Links, Feeds, and Videos
    Photos are a great way for people to feel connected to what you are doing as an organization. Tag your images for SEO by including your company name, location, and relevant keywords in your captions and album names. Leverage the power of links by including links not only to your branded website content, but other relevant and related topics through feeds or manual updates. Finally, videos are a fun way for people to see and hear you, as well as learn from your expertise on a subject.
  8. Promote through Cross Pollination
    Be sure to link from your website, blog, emails, and social media feeds to your Facebook Page. Encourage your Page followers to link to your Page as well as share with their friends. You’ll be surprised how quickly your network will begin to grow.
  9. Optimize Your Page for Search
    When creating your vanity URL, use “key words” for your organization such as your organization’s name. Be sure to keep it as simple as possible, and remember once you have chosen a name you cannot change it. Also, be sure to adjust your privacy settings for search rankings.
  10. Advertise on Facebook
    If you feel your content is relevant and want to further target your audience, try Facebook advertising. Be sure to review the “Best Practices” and “Reasons for Rejection” as you begin. When pricing your ad, we recommend using “Pay Per Click”, since click-thrus are typically low on Facebook. Don’t let this worry you, as your ad will be viewed by thousands and drive awareness and interest.

Food for Thought:

  1. If you already have a Facebook Page, what other tips or advice would you recommend?
  2. What is the biggest mistake you are seeing from other organizations/companies on their Facebook pages?

Facebook Changes That Affect Your Page

March 12, 2011

It is offical: as of March 11, your Facebook pages are now using iFrames. What does that mean? For the average user, it really won’t mean much since the way you update your Facebook page will be the same, for the most part. For the more sophisticated user, here are a few things you will want to pay attention to: FBML has gone away and you can host your own media using iFrames.

Facebook Markup Language
The FBML tab is gone. If you used FBML on your old page, the tab will still be there but Facebook will not allow creating any new custom FBML tabs. Luckily, there are several companies that have come to the rescue and created applications you can use to continue to leverage FBML:

For more information about what this means for you, see Mari Smith’s post about iFrames and Fan Gates.
Other Items of Interest
Over the last months, Facebook has been making other changes as well, the most noticeable differences are Use Facebook As Page and Real-time Analytics for Social Plugins.

Use Facebook as Page
You used to access your Facebook page from the bottom of your profile, but now you can use the Account drop-down to use the feature Use Facebook as Page. When you click on this, you will be given a choice of the pages you own and can switch with a simple click. Switching back is just as simple: click on the Account drop-down and click Switch back to [your profile name]. Aside from the FBML changes, you can edit your page just like before by accessing all your tabs from the left sidebar.

Real-time Analytics for Social Plugins
Facebook also recently announced website and social plugin analytics to their Facebook Insights. This will allow you to gather more actionable data about your page and how well it is performing.


Food for Thought:

  • Have you already started implementing some of these changes?
  • What could you use a little more information about?

How To Improve Your Job Search – Deliver A Great Performance

October 2, 2009

By Dan Coughlin

Before you can deliver a great performance, you need to have an opportunity to perform. With at least 15 million Americans out of work, the importance of searching for and gaining a desired type of job may be of importance to you now or in the future or for someone you know. Or you might have a job, but want a different job.

The Definition of a Job
A job is an opportunity to create and deliver value for other people for which you are financially reimbursed. Both parts of that definition are important.

If you create and deliver value but don’t get paid for it, that’s a volunteer activity. I’m a big fan of volunteer activities. I’ve invested a great deal of time over the past fifteen years volunteering as the president of three different associations, teaching Sunday School classes at my church, and coaching youth sports. I’m guessing you have volunteered a great deal of time as well. Volunteer efforts are critically important. First, you might make a great positive impact on other people’s lives. Second, you might sharpen your skills in important areas. Third, you might meet someone who enhances your career. Volunteering is important, but it is not a job.

If a person receives financial reimbursement for an activity that does not create and deliver value for other people, he or she may be surprised when that activity is no longer considered valuable enough to keep around. Be sure that as you are being financially compensated you are also creating and delivering value. During a terrible recession sometimes valuable contributions are eliminated. But even during the best of times organizations will examine the value contribution of every role and decide if they are worth keeping around.

A Job Search is a Microcosm of a Business
Everything that is important in searching for a job is also important in running a successful business. Entrepreneurs naturally understand this because entrepreneurs are always searching for the next job, even though they call it the next “project” or “assignment.”

Every business, small, medium, or large, focuses on preparation, operations, research and development, marketing, branding, selling, innovation, problem solving, finances, legal issues, and building value-added relationships with customers and potential customers. Every one of these items is critically important in searching for a job.

Job Search Action #1: Be prepared.
Be ready for an employer BEFORE the employer is ready for you.

If a person has had a job for twenty years and then suddenly finds himself or herself without a paycheck, it can be a very difficult blow to the person’s self-esteem. The person may not clearly see the value he or she brings to life’s party. Consequently, I think it’s very important for the person to take exceptionally good care of himself or herself.

So my very first suggestion when you’re looking for a job is to physically exercise and get in the best condition you can be in. This is something you are in control of. Rather than working eight hours a day searching for a job, I suggest you carve out ninety minutes a day to warm up properly, exercise, and warm down properly. Even if this means walking around the block one time to get started, do it. As you begin to get in much better physical shape, you will strengthen your self-esteem and remind yourself that you are to a large degree in charge of your destiny.

Also, continually sharpen your mind and your skills. This is where volunteering can help you. Put yourself in situations where you have to execute in the types of areas you want to be hired for. If you want a senior-level executive position, volunteer to be a board member for a local or national organization. If you want a sales manager’s position, volunteer to organize a fundraising effort in your community.

Be prepared for an employer before the employer finds out about you.

Job Search Action #2: Research Before You Search
Before you start searching for a job, research the industry and any targeted companies you would like to work for. Learn everything you can. Talk to customers, go on line and study their websites, know the trends and challenges and opportunities in the industry and the organizations, and know who the most important movers and shakers are in that industry or organization.

Before I speak to an audience I always interview at least a dozen people, study as much information as I can get my hands on about the organization, and usually volunteer to go on site and observe people in their normal workday activities. When the actual job opportunity opens up, you will be infinitely better prepared if you’ve been doing your research all along.

Job Search Action #3: Clarify Your Value
Businesses sell products and services. You are selling yourself. You are the product and service that you are selling. Your product consists of your values, strengths, passions, knowledge, skills, and experience. Take out a sheet of paper. Under each of those headlines describe what you bring to a potential employer. Then think of an example that supports why you feel you bring that characteristic. Invest sixty minutes in this exercise. Pretty soon you’ll see that some employer is going to be very fortunate to hire you.

Job Search Action #4: Use a Comprehensive Marketing Program
When I speak to entrepreneurs and salespeople I often explain how some of my biggest business opportunities came from people I never would have expected to help me. I just didn’t know who was going to open a door for me or how big the room was going to be. And neither do you. Never write off the possibility that someone you don’t expect to ever help you might turn out to be the most important person in your career.

I used to be a high school teacher. I wanted to be a management consultant and business speaker. That was thirteen years ago. I taught freshmen algebra. The father of a sophomore whom I had taught the year before worked for McDonald’s Corporation. We connected on a very small school event. A year later he invited me to speak to a group of department heads at McDonald’s. That one speech led to me serving as an executive coach for more than 60 people at McDonald’s and to more than five hundred presentations to executives and managers at a wide range of organizations in over thirty industries.

Think of yourself as a business. Now think of all the ways this business can market what it has to sell to prospective buyers. When it comes to a job search you only need one perspective buyer to actually buy/”hire you.” The key is you may need to attract a mountain of opportunities in order to land one that you are really excited about.

Take out several sheets of paper. Start writing down every single person you know. Really challenge yourself to think of people who might know you. Write their names down. Let these individuals know specifically what type of job you want and what type of organization you want to work for. Remember: clarity is powerful, vagueness is not. You are trying to stir up a wide range of people who can recommend you to a potential employer. If they don’t specifically know what you want, what are the odds they are going to be successful in recommending you?

Go on the internet and be creative. Put in search words for the type of industry, organization, or job that you want. See what you come up with. Keep searching on-line to see if you can find a key person to contact. Intelligently use Facebook and Twitter to reach out to people to see if you can uncover opportunities for the type of job you want and the type of company you want to work for.

Attend meetings at organizations that help people find out about jobs. I’ve spoken at these organizations many times, and I’m always impressed by the quality of folks who attend their meetings. You never know who might know someone that you need to know. Don’t think of a job search as an embarrassing activity. Think of yourself as the CEO of a major company and you are letting the marketplace know about a great new product/service that will be of tremendous benefit to some customer/employer. Be proud of your job search and of what you have to offer. You are like a professional baseball player who just became a free agent. Be selective in whom you decide to play for. And make sure the financial compensation is what you consider to be fair and appropriate. If you go to work every day feeling that you are being taken advantage of, you may very well further hurt your self-esteem.

Job Search Action #5: Establish Your Desired Brand
A brand is the value customers think they get when they buy from a particular organization or prospective customers think they would get if they did buy from that organization. Companies don’t own the brand. The brand exists in the minds of their customers and prospective customers.

You have a brand as well. When potential employers think of you what is the value they think they would be receiving if they hire you? Do they think you are the best at resolving difficult obstacles, a master at negotiating complex contracts, or an expert at explaining in-depth technical information in ways that ordinary people can understand it?

Just as customers and potential customers rank products in their mind for a given category, potential employers rank candidates in their mind for a given position inside their organizations. What can you do to enhance your ranking in the minds of employers for the positions you want to be considered for? This is no simple assignment. It requires thought.

Job Search Action #6: Close the Deal and Sign the Contract
Searching for a job is not a job. A job is when you receive an opportunity to create and deliver value for other people for which you are financially compensated. You don’t have a job until you close the deal. That is, stay focused until you have worked out the details of what you are agreeing to do and the way in which you will be financially compensated. Then sign that contract or shake that hand, and get started on the job.

Instead of thinking of a job search as a once-a-decade activity, think of it as part of your professional life. Whether you have a job right now or not isn’t the point. The point is I encourage you to always sharpen your ability to search for a job. It’s really like running your own business, with you serving as head of research and development, marketing, and sales. Get yourself ready and go after the marketplace. It’s an exciting and challenging adventure, and it will bring out the best in you.

(Note: If you want the MP3 recording of this article, please send an e-mail to dan@thecoughlincompany.comwith “Job Search Article” in the subject heading.)

About Dan Coughlin
Dan is a student and teacher of practical processes that improve business performance. His purpose is to work with executives and managers so they achieve great performances. He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, executive coach, and author of three books on management performance, including his newest, The Management 500: A High-Octane Formula for Business Success (AMACOM 2009). Read Chapter One from this new book free of charge. Dan’s clients include Coca-Cola, Abbott, Toyota, Prudential, Shell, Boeing, Marriott, McDonald’s, and the St. Louis Cardinals.


38 Tools To Listen To The Social Media Buzz

September 21, 2009

Sebastian Barros, at Penn Olson, has put together a nice list of 38 free tools for monitoring social media. Evaluating return on investment (ROI) or, for social media enthusiasts, return on engagement (ROE) is a must! Seeing results is often challenging for many that want to get a handle on what is happening related to their online brand.

Check out Sebastian’s article and be sure to visit the links to the resources listed. I think you’ll find some that will definitely need to be added to your tool box.

If this was helpful, let me know by commenting below. Enjoy!


The Economics Of Social Media

August 17, 2009

This provocative clip gives you some data to chew on if you are wondering about the ROE and ROI of Social Media. Thanks Socialnomics – Social Media Blog.


Be Sure To Leave A Lasting Impression

June 30, 2009

By Roy Williams (The Wizard of Ads)

What will be your customer’s memory of you?

“It [the Cheshire Cat] vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

I never ask the graduates of Wizard Academy, “What could we have done differently? How might we improve?” To do so would be to ask them to search their memories for disappointing moments. These are not the images I want to cement in their minds.

Instead, I ask, “What was your favorite moment during your time with us?” This causes the students to recall each of the high-impact moments during of their time on campus and relive those moments in their mind. It doesn’t matter what they choose as their favorite, I just want to flood their minds with happy memories.

The grin will remain after the rest of it is gone.

It is important to control the Last Mental Image (LMI.) What procedures do you employ to make sure your customer has a positive LMI of their experience with you? Comment below.

Related Link
- Monday Morning Memo


Social Media Summit Day 2 – Take Aways

May 28, 2009

By E. Brown

smss_logoDay 2 is down but not out. In today’s line up was Mari Smith, Jason Alba, and Ann Handley. Mari covered the in’s and out’s of using Facebook for business while Jason revealed the power and reach of using LinkedIn. Finally, Ann ended the day with her Top 5 reasons to be on Twitter and listed some of the tools she uses.

My take aways from the today’s Summit are listed below. I have broken then down by Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Facebook
Create a loyal following by:

  1. Optimizing your profile
  2. Choosing your core message
  3. Creating a fan page
  4. Adding “friends” strategically
  5. Thinking about relationships first
  6. Creating viral visibility
  7. Running tests with social ads
  8. Adding Facebook to your overall marketing strategy

Also, use Friendfeed.com as another means to networking and creating community. You can pull your Twitter tweeps, Facebook friends, and Google contacts in as well.

LinkedIn

  • Create a comprehensive and complimentary Social Strategy for your organization
  • Tie your Twitter tweets to your LinkedIn status updates
  • Use keyword phrases in your profile summary
  • Export your LinkedIn contacts to a personal database for backup and mining
  • Use the Slideshare app for displaying presentations
  • 2-Minute Per Week Strategy = accepting/rejecting connections and asking/answering questions

Twitter
Why use Twitter? Here are several reasons:

  • Create a strong community of followers
  • Use it to provide Customer Service
  • Stronger brand awareness
  • Networking
  • Monitoring the online community conversation in regard to your organization

Tools to use:
- search.twitter.com
- backtweets.com
- bit.ly
- Tweetie (iPhone app)

Related Links
- Social Media Summit Day 1
- Social Media Summit Day 2


Social Media Success Summit ’09 – Keynote Take Aways

May 27, 2009

By E. Brown

smss_logoLast nights keynote at SMSS09 with Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk) was high energy. The attendees especially liked the Q&A session afterward. Nothing like free business coaching.

Gary spoke for about 45 minutes (too short) but could have gone on for another 45 easily. The tweets were flying throughout the entire session. My take aways from the evening were:

  • Use search.twitter.com or you’re making a BIG mistake
  • Facebook Fan pages are far more important than Twitter as an “outpost”
  • Look into and start using Tumblr
  • Live-Streaming has  a huge fan base – leverage it
  • Take ownership of your online brand
  • Always have an affirmative call-to-action on your “homebase” (e.g. blog, homepage, etc.)
  • Capture your visitors
  • Work hard, but be sure to spend time with your family
  • Enjoy what you are doing — be passionate about it

I am looking forward to the next group of sessions regarding LinkedIn and Facebook. I’ll keep you updated.

Have fun!

Related Links
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- Tumblr
- Social Media Success Summit
- TweetChat
- Social Media Summit Day 2


Comprehensive List of Best Business Books

January 25, 2009

Once again, friend and author, Dan Coughlin does his research and puts together a very comprehensive list of some of the best business books through the ages. I hope you find this list helpful. If you see some you have not read, I recommend adding it to your library this year. Enjoy!

By Dan Coughlin

In her terrific book, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder wrote, “Benjamin Graham’s book, The Intelligent Investor had mesmerized Warren. For years, he had been going down to the library and checking out every book available on stocks and investing. Warren wanted a system, something that would work reliably. Warren more or less memorized the course textbook, Security Analysis, by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd. Buffett says, ‘The truth was I knew the book even better than Dodd. At that time, literally, almost in those seven or eight hundred pages, I could quote from any part of it. I had just sopped it up.’”

Through intense reading and experimentation, Warren Buffett became the world’s greatest investor and one of the richest individuals in the world. Imagine what such in-depth reading can do for your career.

Here are a variety of books I’ve read that I encourage you to consider. My hope is you will scan this list of more than 100 recommended titles, purchase two books for yourself, and read them. I really believe that business leaders are readers, and that one way you can improve your performance is by reading. But don’t just read your two books. Read them, capture a few key ideas that you want to implement, and move those ideas into action.

Here are my recommendations, which have been organized by topics:

Productivity
Less is More by Jason Jennings
Think Big, Act Small by Jason Jennings
It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow by Jason Jennings

Leadership
On Leadership by John Gardner
Personal History by Katherine Graham
My American Journey by Colin Powell
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Clayborne Carson
My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas Gandhi
Walt Disney by Neal Gabler
Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton
They Call Me Coach by John Wooden
Wooden by John Wooden
Leading with the Heart by Mike Krzyzewski
Leadership & Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam
Gifted Hands by Ben Carson and Cecil Murphey
Think Big by Ben Carson and Cecil Murphey
Leadership is an Art by Max Depree
The Gettysburg Gospel by Gabor Boritt
Abraham Lincoln Great Speeches unabridged by Abraham Lincoln, John Grafton, and Roy Basler

Management
Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker
The Unofficial Guide to Power Managing by Alan Weiss
Winning by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer
The Spirit to Serve by Bill Marriott

Teamwork
Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis and Patricia Biedermann
Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson
Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Russell Rules by Bill Russell
The Winner Within by Pat Riley
A World Waiting to be Born by Scott Peck

Strategy
Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema
Profit from the Core by Chris Zook
Beyond the Core by Chris Zook
Top Management Strategy by Ben Tregoe and John Zimmerman

Marketing/Branding
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin
Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

Innovation
The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley
The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley
The Elegant Solution by Matthew May

Organizational Performance
Built to Last by Jim Collins
Good to Great by Jim Collins
The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker
The Google Story by David Vise and Mark Malseed
Leading By Design by Ingvar Kamprad and Bertil Torekull
The Pixar Touch by David Price
The HP Way by David Packard
The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt

Personal Effectiveness
Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Living a Life that Matters by Harold Kushner
Raising the Bar by Tim Rosaforte
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong
The Dip by Seth Godin
Big Russ and Me by Tim Russert
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman
From Promise to Power by David Mendell
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
The Other Side of Me by Sidney Sheldon
Secrets for Success and Happiness by Og Mandino
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
I Dare You by William Danforth
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
First Things First by Stephen Covey
The Essence of Success by Earl Nightingale
The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale
Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
Success through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
A Treasury of Albert Schweitzer edited by Thomas Kiernan

Investing
The Snowball by Alice Schroeder
Warren Buffett Speaks by Janet Lowe

Sales
The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

Inspiration
The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Consulting
Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss
Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss

Physical Fitness
The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene

Problem Solving
The New Rational Manager by Ben Tregoe and Charles Kepner

Presentations/Writing
Pop! Stand Out in Any Crowd by Sam Horn
Presenting with Pizzazz by Sharon Bowman
Ask Not by Thurston Clarke
The Dream by Drew Hansen

Global Trends
The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan

Management Lessons from Auto Racing
One Helluva Ride by Liz Clarke
At the Altar of Speed by Leigh Montville
The Enzo Ferrari Story by Enzo Ferrari
Winners are Driven by Bobby Unser
Racing to Win by Joe Gibbs
McLaren Formula 1 Racing Team by Alan Henry
Racing Back to the Front by Jeff Gordon
Michael Schumacher by Christopher Hilton

Management Lessons from the American Revolution
A Leap in the Dark by John Ferling
1776 by David McCullough
The Summer of 1787 by David Stewart
American Creation by Joseph Ellis
Thomas Paine by Craig Nelson
Thomas Jefferson by R.B. Bernstein
Common Sense by Thomas Paine

About Dan Coughlin
Dan Coughlin works with large and mid-size companies to improve their business momentum. He is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, and author of ACCELERATE: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum. He speaks on leadership, branding, sales, and innovation. His next book, The Management 500: A High-Octane Formula for Business Success is due to be published in May 2009.


Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check

November 14, 2008

I am reading Guy Kawasaki’s book Reality Check. Here’s little bit about the book from the author. Enjoy!

Posted with vodpod

Source: BNet.com


5 Tips To Quickly Brand Yourself Online

November 13, 2008

By Kirsten Dixson

If you haven’t figured out that you are being Googled in your job search just as frequently as you are Googling your business contacts, then it is time to enter the world of modern career management. Whether you want to or not, you must develop and maintain some kind of professional online profile and recognize that people are forming opinions about you based on what they find after typing your name into a search engine.

Your own approach to online reputation management will be dependent on your career goals and personal comfort level with becoming visible online. Ideally, everyone would invest in a customized online portal for his or her personal brand (see examples). When you have your own blog or website designed, you have total control over how you present yourself. However, if you have limited time or funds, you may be wondering what you can do to establish or extend your online brand quickly and economically. Here are five free resources (some also have paid services):

1. www.Naymz.com. Think of Naymz as the 411 to your online identity. Not only can you create a profile, but you can also point people to all the other online content that you want them to see. This includes your other social media profiles (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), websites, articles and relevant links. You can upgrade your account to have Naymz buy your name in the paid search results so that you get guaranteed first page placement on the leading search engines. A paid listing can be especially helpful if you have a common name, digital dirt or are impatient to show up in the natural listings.

2. www.BusinessCard2.com. BusinessCard2 is a virtual business card that is designed to show up in your search results. In addition to a downloadable vCard with contact information, you can include a bio, recommendations and attachments such as a resume, presentations, articles and photos.

3. www.LinkedIn.com. LinkedIn is a must for every business professional, and it’s not just a networking tool. Create your profile at LinkedIn, and make it public. Chances are that you already have a LinkedIn profile, but you haven’t gotten it ready for public consumption. LinkedIn has good “Google juice,” so your public profile will typically rank high in the results when someone searches for your name. (If you have a common name, be sure to include qualifiers as keywords in your profiles. When people type your name into the search box and they get millions of results, they will begin to narrow down their search by the name of your latest employer or MBA program, your specialty, job title or location.) You can control what elements appear on the public Internet versus the content that only gets displayed to your LinkedIn contacts. Write a keyword-rich, easy-to-digest profile that showcases your value to your target audience and request endorsements from contacts that support your claims. The best way to get endorsements from people is to go ahead and endorse them. LinkedIn will prompt them to return the favor so you don’t have to. Recruiters value LinkedIn endorsements because you cannot edit them (but you can decide not to use them). Also keep in mind that the size of your network will display as part of your public profile and judgments may be made about having too many or too few connections. The right quantity for you is purely subjective, but know that the intention of LinkedIn is to connect with only those you actually know and would recommend to others in your network.

4. www.VisualCV.com. VisualCV takes having your resume online to the next level by allowing you to back up your achievements with proof of your performance. Think of it as an online, multimedia executive portfolio that is template-like in design (your site looks like all the other VisualCVs). You can upload or link to relevant content that supports your claims and also control who sees what.

5. www.Alltop.com. I strongly advocate publishing articles or posting thoughtful blog comments related to your area of expertise. Searching Alltop will help you find the websites and blogs that would be effective in reaching your target audience.

To avoid possible confusion and more work later, don’t start using any of these online identity management resources before you take the important first steps of discovering and articulating your personal brand. Ask yourself, what is my unique promise of value or value proposition, and how can I differentiate myself from others who are vying for the same opportunities? Write one compelling social networking bio that you copy and paste consistently across all of your online profiles. To make a great first impression, you will also want to get a professional headshot since people are often meeting you online before they meet you in person.


Branding And Management Lessons From NASCAR

October 2, 2008

By Dan Coughlin

Thanks to the extraordinary hospitality of the folks at Toyota Motorsports, I had a dream day for a business writer on July 12th. My next book, which will be coming out in a year, is about management lessons gleaned from the history of auto racing.

On July 12th I attended the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LifeLock.com 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway. The race began at 7 PM, and I drove into the parking lot at 11 AM; it was eight hours before the action started. Or so I thought. It turns out that I was attending my first NASCAR race as a fan on the exact 50th Anniversary of Richard Petty’s first NASCAR race as a driver.

If I had had even a small clue about how many management insights I would gain from studying auto racing, I would have written this book five years ago. Here are just a few things I learned.

Add Value
A NASCAR race is so much more than just a car race. It’s a Super Bowl event. There were 75,000 people there, and I estimate there were at least 20,000 people tailgating at 11 AM. I repeat, this was eight hours before the race started. It’s a giant carnival, with actual old-fashioned barkers yelling out that they had free offers inside their tents. It’s a giant concert with singers and entertainers on stage all day. It’s a massive outdoor mall with over 100 booths selling caps, shirts, buttons, miniature cars, giant corn dogs, and even lemonade.
A NASCAR event attracts every conceivable brand name product. I walked through the largest Abraham Lincoln museum I’d ever been in, and it was on wheels. I even saw a display set up with dozens of the largest and most magnificent televisions I had ever seen.

The race – and the organization – provided value beyond its product.
What is the overall concept of the value your company offers and how can you deliver that value in synergistic ways that can support each other?

Personalize Your Brand
The strongest brands there were the racecar drivers themselves. People of all ages wore shirts with the faces and numbers of their favorite drivers. There was booth after booth of shirts, cups, cars, and other take home goodies with pictures of an individual driver and the number of their car on them. I bought two small replicas for both of my children of the M&M’s car that Kyle Busch drives and a Toyota Racing t-shirt for myself.
On top of all that, the drivers themselves appeared all over the place to meet with fans. These drivers are highly paid and are doing extremely intense and dangerous work for nearly three hours during the race. However, for several hours leading up to the race they are going around and saying hello to fans.
Can you imagine a CEO who makes millions and millions of dollars a year going around to customers for several hours to talk with them right before an important board meeting? That’s essentially what these racecar drivers do before every race.

How can you make your organization’s brand more personal for customers?

Create an Experience
There are 43 drivers who compete at each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and there are 36 such races each year all over the U.S. This is a traveling circus that is bigger than any circus I had ever witnessed. And then there’s the race itself. You haven’t heard loud until you’ve heard a NASCAR race. If you haven’t been to a race, then watching it on television doesn’t demonstrate the speed well either. These cars were within a few inches of each other going at least 160 MPH and jumping from high to low on the turns in the track.
The whole day pulsated with lessons both on and off the track including: branding, innovation, teamwork, strategy, execution, planning, problem solving, winning, dealing with change, and preparation. It wasn’t just a race; it was a 360 degree experience. I encourage you to read “One Helluva Ride” by Liz Clarke, which is about the history of NASCAR and also provides powerful thoughts on business momentum.
How can your organization take your product and create a compelling experience around it?

Make Your Own Pit Row
One of the highlights of the day was being allowed to spend 45 minutes walking up and down pit row a few hours before the race started. Pit row houses 43 pit stalls used to replace tires, refuel cars, and fix any car problems. The actual racecars were sitting about 25 feet away from pit row itself while I walked up and down.
This was branding heaven. A place where customers, corporations, and racing teams all met in one spot. It created an extraordinary win-win-win situation. The racing teams provided additional value to the customers by letting them see up close where the cars went during the race. I saw hundreds of photos being taken where fans would sit with the crew members and get their pictures taken in the pit stalls. Every one of those pictures the fans took had corporate logos in them. That meant the sponsors would be seen thousands of times when those pictures were developed and shown with pride to family members and friends. These corporate sponsors weren’t just hidden on the last page of a brochure. They were part of the fan interaction with the racing teams at the pit stalls.

As I watched all of this several questions popped into my mind. Can you imagine professional baseball or football players letting fans look in their lockers a few hours before the game and have their pictures taken standing in front of those lockers? Can you imagine corporate logos all over the lockers and the field itself? You might think that would ruin those games, and you might be right. However, think of the total cost of going to a Major League Baseball game or an NFL Game. I can’t afford to take my wife, Barb, and our children, Ben and Sarah, to very many Major League Baseball games. We have this thing called college tuition to pay for someday. The last time I went to a Major League Baseball game it cost me something like $225 for one night.

Yikes.

At the NASCAR event, the parking was free, the food was reasonable, and the ticket prices were not exorbitant.

How can you create a pit row in your business? Make a list of all of the types of customers you have. Now make a list of all of the companies that would like to sell to those customers. Could you create a unique event for your customers featuring your products and services? Could you then include other companies at that event as sponsors who would underwrite the cost of the event and benefit from being in front of your customers?

Mind the Caution Flags
During the race there is one turn in the track that has nothing to do with what’s right in front of the racecar driver. It’s called the caution flag. When debris lands on the track or a car gets damaged while racing, the caution flag is waved and all the drivers have to slow down and get behind the pace car. That doesn’t seem too bad, except for the lead driver, who has to slow down and let all the other cars line up right behind them. The cushion suddenly evaporates.

This same thing happens in business. You’re doing a good job and staying focused. You’ve built tremendous momentum and you are well beyond the projected pace. Your organization is by far the best in the industry, and you continually generate significant, sustainable, and profitable growth.
Then suddenly the market place changes. Instantly all of the businesses in your industry slow way down. A series of national stories about your industry immediately sends even your most loyal customers searching for alternatives.

Think of the housing downturn that occurred in 2007 and 2008. Suddenly the most successful and the least successful real estate agents were compressed into an incredibly tight market. The leader’s lead was no longer what it had been. When there is even an isolated incident of Mad Cow disease, it sends restaurants and grocery stores into a temporary spiral, whether they were way ahead of their plan or way behind.
This is why it is so important to focus on improving performance and not solely on your relative position compared to others at any given moment. Just because you had a great or terrible quarter doesn’t mean you’re stuck in that position forever. Perhaps your competitor made a big sale right before the quarter ended, and you made one right after the next quarter started. It looks like you’re way behind when in reality you’re not.

When your market gets compressed how will you be prepared to win the race in front of you?
I encourage you to go to a NASCAR race, but get there way, way before it starts and let the lessons on management soak in.

Dan Coughlin is a business keynote speaker, management consultant, and author of “Accelerate: 20 Practical Lessons to Boost Business Momentum.” He speaks on entrepreneurial habits, quality, leadership, branding, sales, and innovatio


Branding You – Why Personal Branding Is So Important In Today’s World

September 24, 2008

By Scott Lahde

Remember all the talk in the late 90s of the “brand called you?” Well, much has changed in the past 10 years – including the way we conduct a job search and the way we network with each other. But the original concept of branding yourself, especially in today’s competitive marketplace for plum roles and positions, is more relevant than ever.

Sure, you have a LinkedIn page. Perhaps you’ve signed up for Naymz and one of your colleagues invited you to join NotchUp or even one of the newer business social networks like Ryze. More and more online business networking opportunities are sprouting up every day. You may have even designed a personal web page with your professional credentials.

That’s a good start, but is that enough to build your own personal brand? No.

Focus on Number One
As executives in marketing, advertising and sales can certainly attest, marketing a company’s product or service, generating sales leads and enhancing the brand is paramount to company success. So why wouldn’t you use that same approach for yourself? Sound too self-serving? Think again.

Really successful executives, the ones that are consistently written about, quoted as experts, and asked to partner with top executives and companies, do one thing and do it well. They promote themselves and their expert opinions.

Creating an online profile in a number of places and monitoring your online presence is definitely important, but if you ignore your real world presence, you’re cutting your own legs. Busy executives pour through hundreds of emails and view scores of web pages each day. Will your digital communication or web presence stand out among the deluge of daily digital information? Well, it’s a big challenge.
What will be remembered is poignant, real world interaction.

Make it Real
You can generate this sort of interaction and attention for the “brand called you” in a dozen different ways. However, the three ways that have had the biggest impact and are often a catalyst for more opportunities are:

  1. Participating in industry trade groups and associations
  2. Speaking at prominent industry events
  3. Writing well-crafted, by-lined articles in trade publications

In a sense, think back to basics. Some may scoff at the notion of participation at the trade level. Whether it’s engineering, finance or technology, the trades are not nearly as glamorous as being featured in Forbes or Fortune or speaking at Davos. But let’s be realistic, only a very small handful of people are invited to participate at those high levels.

So don’t scoff at them – embrace your trades! It will be your entrance to bigger and better things. Everything is cyclical – a trade article could lead to being selected for a speaking engagement, which leads to being quoted in a news article, which leads to a panel opportunity, which leads to being interviewed on television as an industry expert. You never know. Your participation with Beer Advocate magazine six months ago could have led to being asked to comment on the mammoth Anheuser-Busch/InBev merger.

Be Memorable
The same holds true for conferences, conventions and industry association events. You certainly don’t need to attend every single one in your industry, but select a few key events and really focus on your personal interactions. You may be a sales person for your organization, so of course one of your goals might be generating sales leads, but don’t make the mistake of ignoring your other goal – selling YOU.

Focus on real world interaction with people. Have the kind of conversations that will make people remember you, not run the other direction because you are hounding them. Be genuine. Be thoughtful. Find ways you can help people as much as they can help you. These tenets may seem natural to some, foreign to others, but in any case, they will go a long way in building your brand.

In Short
Create this simple litmus test: Is what I am doing improving my brand, both online and off-line?

Remember: Networking is not about collecting as many business cards as you can. It’s about quality over quantity.

I recently attended a conference and during the networking portion I was approached by a gentleman who quite frankly told me that his boss told him to attend the conference and hand out his business cards. He then offered me his business card and walked away.

Obviously, his business card was immediately circular filed the same way I file random online invites when I receive them. Do yourself a favor – don’t be that person.

Scott Lahde is a 15-year veteran of the communications industry and is Vice President, Associate Director of Corporate Communications at Deutsch Inc., a $2.5 billion top-ten, bi-coastal communications agency.


Interviewing 102: Make a Difference

September 15, 2008

By Dean Tracy

As I coach candidates on job search and interview tactics globally, I admit that there is a bit of a science to nailing the second round interview. If you have the proper formula, you may be the only candidate to make a lasting impression that the company will not soon forget!

Chances are good that if you’re being invited back for a second round of interviews, then you’ve made a good initial impression and have something that they want. That said, besides charisma and all of the right answers to their questions, what will you bring to the interview that will impress them enough to use your interview as the standard against which to grade all other candidates?

Answer: Your 60/90-Day Strategic Plan.

During your first interview, you probably heard all about the pain-points that are driving the hiring manager crazy. This includes project deadlines, technology initiatives, budgets, client visits (if you’re in Sales), revenue goals and so on. Additionally, you may have noticed that they never seem to have enough people on staff!

If you’ve asked the right questions in your first round of interviews, and you are truly excited about this potential opportunity, then you should have a pretty good idea as to what you will do to be successful in this role. You should be able to identify at least a 60/90-day strategic plan, based upon your knowledge of the role as it is today.

If used carefully and properly, your strategic plan can be “The Difference Maker” for you in your second round of the interview process.

Three of the primary factors that demonstrate your value proposition, and will drive your success in this new potential role are as follows: having a vision / overview for the job, establishing trust with clients and colleagues, and being able to identify and set goals and objectives. Let’s go into each of these in depth.

Vision / Overview
Based upon what you have heard in the interview, you should know the vision / overview of the department or company. What impact will you make within your first 60/90 days that can be tied back to the company reaching its goals?

Consider the following when drafting your plan:

Know the Product
Establish a working knowledge of products or services to create long-term value in your employment.

Be Credible
Become a leader among your peers by spearheading initiatives, collaborating with the leadership team, or presenting to your department.

Establishing Trust with Clients and Colleagues
Establishing trust is essential for success in any role. What will you do to establish a high degree of trust within your piece of the company or amongst your peers

Make Introductions
Meet with key stakeholders in the company or department. This is beneficial on all fronts. It offers an opportunity for you to demonstrate your skills, but also allows you to get their perspectives on the company and projects.

Share Expectations
Understand the leadership team’s expectations. This is paramount to your success. Investigate revenue objectives, if possible, to set your personal goals. Think about setting “best practices” that may be beneficial to the company and your role. This will include understanding client needs and identifying what may have been learned from any mistakes along the way.

Create Buy-In and Set Priorities
Identify how you will partner with the leadership team to create attainable goals for success. Fully understand the company mission statement and be able to share it with others. This represents a degree of commitment and clarity on the corporate goals.

Goals and Objectives
Setting goals and objectives is simply good business practice. You need to fully understand your new role in order to be successful, and you must approach it as a business. In doing so, it’s critical that you identify your personal goals and objectives for success in this new capacity

Determine the Objectives
Educate yourself daily on a new aspect of the company, the expectations or the job. Establish product expertise within the first 30 days of employment. Build cross-departmental relationships with departments that are responsible for supporting your success.

Shape a Methodology
Identify the steps that you will take to accomplish your objectives. For every objective that is listed, you should have a supporting methodology for the accomplishment.

Reflect on Success
Identify how you will evaluate or measure the success of your contributions.

Setting yourself apart from the rest of the candidates is mission critical to having a lasting impact on the person or team that is interviewing you. No doubt, you’ve heard the phrase “raise the bar.” My perspective is that the candidate before and after you can raise the bar all they want. By entering into the second round interview prepared with a 60/90-Day Strategic Plan, you are sure to launch yourself over any bar that is set before you!

Dean Tracy is a Professional Recruiter, Public Speaker and Career Coach based in Northern California. He also serves on the Leadership Team for Job Connections.


Quotable Quote on Change

September 10, 2008

Emotion supplies the energy to change.
- Larry Sternberg


Can You Say, “iMac Rip Off”?

September 10, 2008

Looks suspiciously like another computer I have seen…hmm…now where would that have been?


What The Heck Is A Cartoon Doing On This Blog?

September 8, 2008

By E. Brown

If you noticed the recent addition of the Jaggedsmile widget in the sidebar, you may be wondering what the heck is going on? Need I remind you, this blog is dedicated to:

…common sense leadership/management, innovative developments in training, creativity, out-of-the-box ideas and business solutions, fun in learning and at work, tips and how-to’s, community building, and personal change. My desire is to present information that inspires readers to apply what they learn — and to have fun while doing so.

Call me optimistic, or as some, call me weird, but I believe that these areas (common sense leadership, creativity, fun learning, and personal change), working together, have untapped potential for impacting the future.
- From the WG page

Need I say more?


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