Monday Mornings with Madison

Monthly Archives:
August 2013

Embrace Office Organization

Organization and time management are two of the biggest challenges that people face day-to-day. Busy lives often result in messy lives. This is true both at home and work. In fact, lack of time often leads to clutter. At home, it might be the medicine cabinet that needs tidying. Or it might be the utensil drawer in the kitchen that needs sorting. Or it might be financial records that need organizing. For some, clutter is confined to one area. For others, mess is found in every drawer and closet… every nook and cranny. Lack of organization is not just irritating to the eye and stressing to the mind, it can actually cause real problems. For example, a person can’t take medicine if they can’t find the medicine. Bills not paid on time can result in a lower credit score or worse. Cluttered closets can hide resources that result in unnecessary purchases.

At work, lack of organization can also cause problems. A cluttered or messy desk can waste time as an employee searches for a needed paper or file. A disorganized supply room can cause staff to order additional supplies needlessly. Cluttered or misplaced records can even result in lost clients if key work is overlooked or deadlines are missed. Disorganized accounting records can wreak absolute havoc during an audit or at tax time. Given that organization is key to efficiency, economy of motion and effectiveness, how does a leader or manager ensure that all staff get and stay organized? How can a busy employee stay organized despite a heavy workload? Continue reading

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101 Questions to Ask When Considering Marketing Strategies

The best marketers know that, when it comes to marketing, variety is necessary in order to cut through the fog of competition and the vast noise of the marketplace and be able to reach each customer where he or she lives. Regardless of the industry, there is no single marketing channel that is best. The key to successful, long-term marketing is to reach people in the myriad of ways in which they prefer to receive or are most open to accepting messages about products or services. Just as people come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, religions and cultures, so do their preferences for interaction and their receptivity to messages. Some people prefer email promotions. Others look at direct mail circulars. Still others are influenced by billboards. And others listen to radio ads. Some even look at good, old-fashioned print ads.

A marketing channel that is totally ‘outdated and passé’ to one person, such as a branded desk calendar, might be ‘old-school cool’ or just plain practical for someone else. And a new edgy marketing strategy that may make no sense to one person, such as mobile ads, may hit the bulls-eye with someone else. The key is to not fall into the trap of thinking “This doesn’t speak to me, so therefore it won’t appeal to anyone else.” The smartest marketers keep an open mind.

But keeping an open mind and embracing variety has a price. While a diverse marketing program is important, that approach – if unchecked – can also be prohibitively expensive. Given the ever-broadening number of marketing channels available, it is impossible to advertise or promote a company everywhere all the time. So how does one decide which strategies to try and which to ignore? It is a matter of analysis and assessment. The first step is to ask a lot of questions. Continue reading

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In Search of The Best Marketing Channel

It’s been said that variety is the spice of life. Different strokes for different folks. To each his own. These expressions all communicate the fundamental truth that every individual has their own preferred way of doing things or approaching life. What resonates with one person may make no sense to someone else. What one person loves, another may detest.

Take, for instance, how people like their steaks cooked. Some like their steak cooked ‘medium’ which is pink at the center. Others like their meat a little less cooked, ‘medium-rare’, which is pink with a little red in the center. Still others go in the other direction and want a steak ‘well-done,’ cooked through until the meat is gray (which typically offends chefs and gourmands). At the other extreme, some prefer their steak so rare that it might still ‘moo’ on the table. So which customer is right? Is there one best way to cook a steak? When it comes to the restaurant business, the answer is that there is no single ‘right way’ to cook a steak. While chefs may have an opinion on the optimal temperature to cook meat, restaurateurs understand that they must serve it however the customer prefers. The customer – who is paying for the food — should get what they want the way they want it… and preferences vary greatly.

Is that also true of marketing? Is there one best way to deliver a marketing message to customers? Or do preferences vary greatly? If you ask most anyone in business about marketing, they likely will tout the virtues of one or two particular marketing channels above all others. Indeed, company leaders are perpetually in search of the single ‘best’ marketing channel. And they will argue vehemently in favor of the one they deem is ‘best.’ But is there one marketing channel that is consistently superior over all others? Continue reading

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Poison Pill: How to Deal with a Toxic Employee

No employer ever wants to think of any employee as ‘toxic’ or ‘poisonous’. Yet anyone who has ever worked with or managed a large team of people can attest that there is occasionally an individual who is so negative and damaging to the workplace that he/she is secretly thought of as a ‘poison pill.’ It could be an employee who is great at her job, but speaks to customers with utter contempt. It might be a stellar salesperson who is a top producer but treats support staff like lowly peasants. Perhaps it is a manager who is wonderful to customers but rude and harsh to his direct reports. Or maybe it is an employee who says all the right things to management but then turns around and bad mouths the company to other employees and customers. Whatever the scenario, the problem of a poisonous employee is not one that can be ignored.

The real problem with a poisonous employee is that, like a poison pill dropped in a well of fresh water, he or she can contaminate the entire source. Left untended, that individual can create problems with customers, other employees and management. But dealing with a poison pill employee can be tricky business, especially if the person is great at what they do. How should a company handle the hostile employee that threatens the harmony and success of the team? The answer is carefully but decisively. Continue reading

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