It is a lot of work to prepare an annual Marketing Plan. After all, a company’s Marketing Plan should itemize — in great detail — all of the company’s goals, the objectives to reach those goals and the strategies to … Continue reading
It’s been said that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” The point is that sometimes you have to break routines and try new processes, products, systems or strategies to find better ways of doing things. Innovation usually leads to improvement, and refusing to ever try new things is futile and foolish. Consider the Luddites. The Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers and weavers who, fearing the end of their trade, protested against newly developed labor-saving technologies between 1811 and 1816. New inventions such as the stocking frames, spinning frames and power of the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace Luddites with less-skilled, low-wage laborers, leaving them unemployed and obsolete. The Luddite movement culminated in a region-wide rebellion in Northwestern England that required a massive deployment of military force to suppress. So famous was their rebellion that today the term Luddite has become synonymous with anyone opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technology, in general.
Of course, there is also an argument to be made that a business that is always changing processes, products and strategies may find itself wasting both time and talent. It can be expensive to constantly be shifting gears and updating systems. Learning new software or revamping procedures takes time and can be confusing – and even frustrating — for employees. So change for the sake of change can also be counterproductive and costly. It is important for businesses to evolve, but it should be done carefully and thoughtfully to ensure it causes the least amount of disturbance, distraction and distress internally and externally. Continue reading
What does the company stand for? Where does it fit in this world? What are its’ “ways” of doing things? The answer to those questions is what lies at the heart of any company’s core values. Apple’s core value – established by Steve Jobs – was that people with passion can change the world. When they launched the Mac computer, their campaign slogan was “Think Different.” Their advertisements didn’t show computers. In fact, their ads had nothing to do with their product. It was about people who had changed the world. Likewise, the core value for milk – represented by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council for what is the quintessential commodity – is that milk is good for you, which some argue is not even true. Their most famous advertising campaign — based on their core value — was “Got Milk?”, which also did not show the product. It actually showed the absence of the product, but the core value was clear.
When a company’s leadership wants to establish core values for the organization, it needs to consider its place in the world. How is the company different from other organizations? What values speak to how the company’s employees work, interact and behave? What values jive with the organization’s brand and reinforce its identity? When seeing the company’s products, services or employee’s behaviors, would customers be able to pick them out as distinctly of that organization? Those are some of the questions to consider in formulating core values. Here’s how. Continue reading
For a business to thrive, genuine core values are invaluable! Core values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But fake core values generate a cynicism that poisons the cultural well and wastes a great opportunity. The problem is that coming up with strong values—and sticking to them—requires a high degree of fortitude and grit… real moxie. Indeed, an organization considering a core values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly practiced, values can inflict pain. They can make some employees feel like outcasts. They can limit an organization’s strategic and operational freedom and constrain the behavior of its people. They could leave executives open to heavy criticism for even minor violations. And they demand constant vigilance. In other words, it takes work for a business to have meaningful core values. Companies unwilling to accept the pain of real core values shouldn’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement.
Those organizations with genuine commitment to values will reap the benefits of what those core values bring, including: improved morale, organizational pride, cohesiveness, well-defined priorities, positive employee attitudes, less conflict, greater recruiting appeal, heightened innovation, unique brand positioning, and more satisfied customers. The first step in establishing core values for a company is to consider what core values are — and aren’t — and examine companies that have successfully adopted core values into their DNA. Continue reading
Change is a fact of life and an inherent part of business. With technology, the relentless pace of change has accelerated forcing businesses to either catch up or keep up. Companies are compelled to evolve with the times. Phone companies evolved from switchboards and rotary phones to smart phones with data plans. Record producers evolved from phonographs and vinyl records to digital downloads and playlists. Car manufacturers evolved from hand-cranked motor cars in one-color models to keyless ignition vehicles with self-driving engines in most every shape, size and color. Change is indeed unrelenting, affecting almost every aspect of business. Almost.
There is one aspect of a business that should never change: a company’s core values. Despite the battering winds of change, the one intractable, immutable, and unwavering element of a business should be its core values. But if you asked the leadership of most any typical small or mid-sized businesses, many would be hard pressed to rattle of their company’s core values. So what are “core values” anyway? And does every company really need to spell out its core values and should employees know what those values are? Continue reading
One of the hardest things for businesses to understand is how their clients truly think and feel. One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs and managers make is to assume that customers want the same things that they want. Typical thinking goes something like this: “If I like X, then my customers must like X too. If I really dislike Y, then I’ll bet my customers must really dislike Y too.” This “Just Like Me” mentality seeps into sales techniques, marketing campaigns, operational procedures, customer service policies and more. But, in truth, management is often totally out of touch and confused about what their clients want or need in order to be satisfied and remain loyal. This “Just Like Me” thinking is like a poison that seeps into the water… it blends in and contaminates everything. It makes a manager mistakenly believe that he knows what’s best for clients because everyone thinks and feels just like he does.
Why are business decision-makers so sure that – when it comes to their business model, operational practices and service delivery methods — they know definitively what all their customers like and want? The truth is that what people like, want and value is as varied as there are scents in the olfactory spectrum (1 trillion). And that is part of the problem since business people want / need to find the “one right answer” for how to service clients. They are looking for a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach, and often the easiest solution is to say “I know best.” But is a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach for servicing customers best? Is there an alternative? Continue reading