Renee Prejean-Motanky

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

WHAT ONLY YOU, AS CEO, CAN DO FOR YOUR COMPANY

In Business Development, Business Strategies on July 31, 2009 at 1:32 am
He wears many hats
Image by KaroliK via Flickr

Typically, the CEO wears many hats: communicator, coach, problem solver. And while there may be others who can also fill those roles, there’s one critical job only a CEO can do and that’s link the outside world (society, economy, technology, customers) with the inside world (your company).

How do you do that?

Focus on four tasks:


1. Define “outside”: It’s important to identify and define which external constituency matters most. For most businesses, that’s the customer! While for non-profits, there can be more than one constituency (customers/clients, donors, political influencers…) To do this, you must understand your constituents.
2. Decide what business you’re in: For example, what are your core businesses, and which of them will you grow?
3. Balance present and future: Ensure that stakeholders’ near-term interests don’t overshadow your company’s long-term future (pay attention to current trend, but don’t let it overshadow development for the future by not balancing short-term investments with resources needed for your company’s long-term goals.
4. Shape values and standards: Define values and standards in terms that are meaningful by defining your company’s values (its identity) and standards (expectations) in ways that encourage the right behaviors. For example; Proctor and Gamble defines trust as consumers’ trust in its brands.

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Are you Effective or Efficient?

In Business Strategies on July 30, 2009 at 4:55 am
Work Principles
Image by Alex Osterwalder via Flickr

Have you ever thought about the difference between efficiency and effectiveness? They both seem desirable, but Lou Tice, of the Pacific Institute, feels one is far better. I got to thinking about that and realized that he’s right.  Most businesses want to run an efficient operation.  We spend a lot of time and energy trying to become efficient.  But it is equally, if not more, important to run an effective operation.

Efficiency means doing things with a minimum of effort – low input for high output. ..In other words, efficiency means doing things right. But the key question becomes; What things?  To be effective you must  be doing the right things right!  That is what you want to aim for.

You can be as efficient as the dickens at doing the wrong things!

You can practice the wrong technique or the wrong moves until you have them down perfectly. Then, you are going to wonder and worry about why your business is failing, why your customers aren’t coming back, why sales are down and profits are dropping, even though everything else is working like a well-oiled machine.

When you visualize yourself or your business, don’t just see yourself doing things right; See yourself doing the right things right!  

The right things, even if done imperfectly, can beat the heck out of a flawless execution of the wrong things. This holds true for anyone who is striving for success.

Think about it!

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THE IMPORTANCE OF BUSINESS INNOVATION …especially during difficult times

In Business Development, Business Strategies on July 28, 2009 at 4:44 pm
left-brain-right-brain
Image by vaXzine via Flickr

Far too few businesses have creative, right-brain types in leadership positions. This leaves innovation vulnerable to unwise cost cutting during difficult economic times. Decisions to slash versus retain projects are made by analytical, left-brain leadership who really are not suited for assessing innovations “outside of the box.”

 The fashion industry sets a great example worth emulating:

Every season, successful fashion companies must reinvent their product lines—and thus their brands—or face certain death. They manage this constant challenge by creating unusual partnerships at the top that consist of an imaginative, right-brain creative director and a commercially minded, left-brain brand CEO. ( called “both-brain” teams by Darrell K. Rigby, author of Winning in Turbulance.)*

  • Its businesses are run by pairs of powerful executives with complementary–creative and analytic–styles.
  • Its businesses are structured  to support left-brain-right-brain partnerships. Recruiters for the fashion industry seek to hire a mix of cognitive styles at all levels.  
  • In the fashion industry Innovation is a way of business life, not a marginal activity.

Highly successful both-brain pairs have been found elsewhere: Apple CEO Steve Jobs and COO, Tim Cook, are one such extremely well-known alliance. 

How it works:

Traditional, left-brain-dominant business leaders typically can’t tell the difference between good and bad innovations. Nor do they appreciate the skills needed to build and sustain a culture of creativity and constant reinvention. A leadership duo that unites right-brain creative skills and left-brain management skills offers the best way of ingraining innovation in a business, making it valued in all economic climates. 

But there’s more to the formula than throwing two people together. What makes for a superlative “both-brain” team? In many ways such a partnership is “truly like a marriage,” says Gucci Group CEO, Robert Polet. “It has ups and downs, and you have disagreements, [but] with a common purpose and within a common framework.”

Rigby studied a number of creative-commercial partnerships, both successful and unsuccessful, and identified seven characteristics that were common to success:

  1. Awareness of strengths and weaknesses. Partners realistically assess what they do well and where they need help. They often joke openly about their own shortcomings to help others see the value of partnership.
  2. Complementary cognitive skills. Partners seek those who balance their own working styles and decision-making approaches. They learn to draw on each other’s capabilities to the proper degree and at the right times.
  3. Trust. Partners trust each other and are willing to put each other’s interests ahead of their own.
  4. Raw intelligence. Partners bring insightful observations and good judgment to the team’s decisions.
  5. Relevant knowledge. Partners bring experience that applies directly to the challenges they face.
  6. Strong communication channels. Partners speak to each other frequently and directly. They often work in the same or adjacent spaces.
  7. Motivation. Partners are highly committed to the success of the business and to each other.

*Source:  Innovation in turbulent times Harvard Business Review 06/01/09 by Darrell K. Rigby, Kara Gruver, and James Allen

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In Uncategorized on July 18, 2009 at 4:06 am

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10 Tips For Social Media Marketers

In Integrated Marketing Strategy, marketing, Social Media, The Internet on July 11, 2009 at 12:56 am
Social Media Very Basic Overview
Image by litbel via Flickr

Businesses these days are engaging with consumers in new ways through social media like YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, Myspace, LinkedIn and others.  Many set up their own social site or designate an area on their existing Website. 

Whatever vehicle you choose for your business, these are ten key lessons about social media that every marketer using these vehicles would be well-advised to take to heart:

  1. Every Brand can and should be “Social.”  – Conversations about your brand and products are happening everywhere.  You need to be a part of the conversation (not to control it, but to add your voice!)
  2. Just Get Started!  It doesn’t require a large budget to get started in social media marketing.  Start by listening.  Set up Google Alerts to monitor conversations about your brand or product.  Use TweetDeck and set up a search to monitor what is going on about your brand or product on Twitter.  Then participate in the conversation.  Just remember to be authentic, honest and transparent.  If you take those first steps and engage in the conversation , you’ll l learn more about how your brand fits into the social media space.  This will guide future programs that you may launch.
  3. Integrated marketing VS Social Media.  There is a difference between an integrated marketing campaign that includes viral components or onllne/offline coordination and a social media program.  Marketing campaigns have a short life. They, generally have a particular focus and are designed to capture the attention of your target audience.  A social media program is a commitment to engage and communicate with consumers when and where (online) the consumer wants to communicate and at no other time. If you start a marketing campaign with social components versus implementing a social media program, it’s important to start with the end in mind.  The worst thing you can do is build a group of fans, friends or followers around an initiative without a clear strategy once the marketing campaign is completed.
  4. Find Your Own Unique Path.  What works for one brand in social media doesn’t necessarily work for another.  A movie franchise communicates very differently with its customer than, say, a video arcade.  Your unique traits should be reflected in the content you create, the tone that you use and the online programs that you develop.
  5. Expenditures for Publicity.  Companies can spend a lot of money trying to launch a social media program.  Most of those efforts can be classified as part of an integrated marketing campaign.  Your approach and funding of an integrated marketing campaign should  be in line with the size and scope of your overall marketing budget.  Social media programs are much more cost-effective when viewed strictly from within your “media” budget but they need people to manage them.  So, in many cases you exchange media dollars for staff time and its relative cost.  If you are at step one: listening to and engaging in conversations about your brand, for example, while there’s no media buy someone must be dedicated to scanning and responding to the network.  That person needs to be an employee of the company.
  6. PR Agencies can play a great role, but the “VOICE” needs to be your company’s.  Remember that the consumer wants to connect with you, not your PR agency!  Your agency’s role, if involved, should be to monitor and identify opportunities. But it is the company who must respond – Authenticity is key.
  7. Get legal professionals involved from the beginning, if you have legal considerations to comply with.  Your legal department or consultant can be an ally or a roadblock.  It’s important to understand that there is not a lot of legal precedent to reference in the social networking arena.  This makes your legal experts nervous.  You want them on your team, so involve them early and help them understand your goals. This should help solidify a partnership.  When risks are identified, ask them to help you find solutions rather than put the kibosh on a program.  There are usually solutions to mitigate risk.  Together you can find these.
  8. Have a Crisis Management Plan.  In a world of 24/7 communication, the brands that can respond quickly to a crisis will be the brands that weather the storm.  A good crisis management plan must begin with active monitoring.  Good judgment must be exercised to distinguish a customer service issue from a crisis needing management.  Once a crisis has been identified, it must be responded to quickly (with a couple of hours is reasonable.)  Taking no action will certainly escalate the issue.  Immediate response helps nip a crisis in the bud.  You may find that, if your company has been active in the social media community for a while and has amassed followers who trust you, they may lend to your credibility by defending you!
  9. Convincing the C-Suite.  One of the most popular questions  asked by corporate public relations staff about social media programs is; “How do we garner the support of the “C-Suite for a social media program?”  Having a clearly defined objective is critically important to gain support of any initiative.  Since the C-Suite is most focused on ROI (Return On Investment), it’s important to demonstrate to them, why social media have become so important to the bottom line.
  10. More about Return On Investment.  Discussions regarding the return on investment of social media are prevalent these days, and with good reason.  In a tightening economy, businesses are scrutinizing their spending, anxious to ensure, that resources are being allocated wisely.  In the emerging social media space, ROI has been redefined  by some as “Risk of Ignoring”.  So when  the decision maker in your company asks you the ROI question, your answer should be, “Yes. If we create a plan, and set goals, then we can measure the returns …”
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The 7 Best Tools Used by Top Social Networking Sites

In Business Development, Communications, Social Media on July 7, 2009 at 6:02 am
LOGO2.0 part I
Image by Stabilo Boss via Flickr

Following are some great features that the top Social Networking (SN) sites currently use to stay on top:

 

1.) Ajax based tag suggestions – Fluther.com


This is where when you start typing something into an input box, a little drop down window immediately appears which basically shows some suggested tags which it pulls from its database of existing tags as you type each letter. The more you type, the more accurate the suggested tags get.  

Fluther.com uses this feature. The reason the feature is so useful is that most SN sites use tagging but very few offer tag suggestions. example, if I’m posting an article about “Web design”, I might add the following tags: webdesign, Web design, website, websites, web-design, Web development….Anyway, you get the point!

Fluther suggestions help eliminate the guess work over whether you’re using the best tags, over-tagging or  under-tagging to ensure search engine optimization.

2.) Get users to promote for you – Stumbleupon.com
StumbleUpon is an Internet community that allows its users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos. It is a personalized recommendation engine which uses peer and social-networking principles. Web pages are presented when the user clicks the “Stumble!” button on the browser toolbar.

 StumbleUpon chooses which Web page to display based on the user’s ratings of previous pages, ratings by his/her friends, and by the ratings of users with similar interests. Users can rate or choose not to rate any Web page with a thumbs up or thumbs down, and clicking the Stumble button resembles “channel-surfing” the Web.

Install the Stumbleupon toolbar and start stumbling!”

3.) Sell limited positions as category sponsors to marketers – Blogcatalog.com
This is a way that sites can monetize traffic. It’s a tactic that it provides a service to site users by providing ‘validated’ listings as well as makes the continuation of site services more viable.  

It is a derivative of the user-generated/rated content movement that’s relevant enough and provides enough of a service to keep it as a resource. Think of it in the same vein as Ebay’s sponsored listings or any other form of marketing – Successful Ebay vendoers (meaning those who are doing the right thing to remain successful) can afford to pay for advertising so, theoretically, this moderately ‘validates’ them.  It does, however, also provide an avenue for spammers.

4.) Force “legitimate” friendships – Stumbleupon.com
Let’s face it – none of us have 500+ real friends!  MySpace is notorious for “friend” abuse. My niece has a bazillion “friends” on MySpace!  In principle, I suppose one can understand the ideal, but the reality is that it waters down the value of the community  

Stumbleupon allows 200 friends, max. In order to become friends with someone, you first must find another user and add them as your friend.  But before you actually become their friend, you’re added as a “fan” of theirs….basically you become a groupie… until they confirm you as their friend. At that point you become “mutual friends.” Stumbleupon allows you to have unlimited fans but, as an individual, you cannot have more than a combined total of 200 “mutual friends” and you are a fan of. This forces you to be selective.  In the Stumbleupon community, it’s considered better to have more “mutual friends” than people you are a fan of.

LinkedIn guards against “friend” abusers to an even greater extent. Their friend system is very tight. You can’t send a message to someone or request they become friends with you unless you actually know them & have their e-mail address or someone can facilitate an introduction.  But it’s still up to the individual to respond and accept/deny the “friend” request.

5.) True integration with other web services – Facebook.com
Facebook’s new application platform has raised the bar – way up. Facebook’s popularity is growing at an increasingly greater rate than MySpace. 

There is a library of, literally, hundreds of unique applications available that integrate with Facebook.  My Facebook page is set up to automatically post my blogs and tweets to my profile.  They show up in my newsfeed as well as in all of my friend’s news feed pages. It’s quite effective.

6.) Allow filtering content through friends – Digg.com
Digg is, technically, a “Social News” site, there are, however, some features that are important. Digg actually has a reputation for being run by a handful of people who all dig each other’s stuff exclusively! This doesn’t mean that Digg’s ‘friend’ system isn’t useful. What seems to be the best approach on Digg in order to get fresh content that’s filtered more specifically for an individual’s interests is this:

  1. find an article that appeals to you;
  2. look at the profile of the person who submitted it
  3. then look at the articles they have submitted in the past.
  4. If they appeal to you, ‘friend’ them. 

What will happen next is that when you’re looged in and on any category page on Digg, you’ll see a link to view that “Friend’s activity in the last 48 hrs.”  If you’ve “friended” the right folks, you’ll discover a pretty specialized list of information and posts.

7.) Have a visually appealing website
I’m talking professional grade and geared for socializing. Pay attention to detail, but keep the design simple & fresh. Concentrate on usability if your goal is to out survive the competition.  

Allowing users control over their profile’s appearance is a great idea as long as it’s done properly. I’d advocate for less control than MySpace but more than Facebook. If you use embedded videos & music on your site, remember not to set the audio player default to auto play.

Have you discovered more tools that you like?  Please share by adding your comments.

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BUSINESS APPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA OR…as a recent study by SocialMedia Today put it; “separating the Biz from the Buzz”

In Business Development, Communications, marketing, Social Media on July 3, 2009 at 3:12 am
My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...
Image by luc legay via Flickr

The rapid rise in popularity of social media has been underestimated.  Companies have been using social media mostly as a general communication tool…primarily for public relations. But a shift is coming in how organizations use social media as businesses begin to discover the value of social media as an essential tool for generating leads and for keeping arms around customers through interaction with them.

In our current economic downturn where the customer pool is diminishing exponentially, finding customers and engaging with them have moved up the priority scale.  Social media is a powerful and persuasive tool.  What better example to cite than the recent election of the President of the United States?

There is, however, a glut of social media vehicles to choose from and all are getting lots of media coverage (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, My Space, etc.)  All are somewhat ubiquitous and I’d like to see demographic and psychographic data on users indicating the unique audience components to each service.  Each of them tout different features. That’s the researcher in me.  It’s not easy to understand which way to go or, for that matter, how to use them to advantage. 

For RPM Marketing, my company, it’s difficult to say that I get more value from one than the other, though. I’ve found that if you want to utilize social media successfully as a marketing tool to grow your business, then you have to use social media sites and tools in the same ways that your customers do, and for the same reasons. You also have to accept the community’s rules, you can’t make your own. Social media isn’t a one-way promotional channel, it’s a many-way interaction/communication channel. The key, as always, is Audience. You’ve got to know who you’re talking to.

I’ve been on LinkedIn for a while now and I’d say it’s where you go to network for business. It’s a great way to see who knows who so that you can leverage existing business relationships.

A couple of good ways to use LinkedIn as a tool are:
1. Answer Questions. The more substantive your answer is, the more likely folks will want to connect with you.
2. Ask Questions. By asking questions that generate a lot of responses you can identify “qualified prospects” in many arenas. It takes thought and creativity on the part of the asker.

I’m new to “tweeting,” (still making my observatons) and I can only offer initial impressions. On Twitter, the ability for an idea or thought or message to generate a huge following is fascinating. Since the emphasis on Twitter is brevity (A post can’t be longer than 140 characters) it’s important to learn the lingo—lots of abbreviations to become familiar with. Twitter is a world filled with sound bites that either capture your interest or not. I have found that it’s a great way to create a following, direct Web traffic, build brand recognition, and get feedback from all over the place.

I personally like Facebook and log into it every day, sometimes two or three times! I have found it extremely useful to keep in touch with and reconnect with my personal network. Creating an online profile to inform your personal network of what it is that you’re doing and/or creating “Groups” that you solicit your network to participate in can be a useful means of driving traffic and it can be a great publicity tool for a small business or for a specific business unit within a larger business provided that individual employees, NOT corporate officials are the ones posting.

I’m experimenting with Facebook now. Facebook traffic has been increasing steadily, currently taking the position as the ninth most popular domain in the U.S., accounting for 1% of all Internet visits —  Facebook has also moved the bar up…way up, with it’s integration of other software applications (at the user’s discretion) into its model!

A recent study conducted by Social Media Today 1. endeavors to provide guidance to managers regarding which  functions of social media are actually useful in business by measuring which vehicles are being used right now and by whom. The survey was conducted of its members and visitors who are actively involved professionally in social media.

A look at what other businesses are doing can offer valuable perspective.  To read the full white paper:  http://www.socialmediatoday.biz/separatingthebizfromthebuzz

 

 

1.     Social Media Today is an online community focused on issues in the social media world.

 

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