Having recently attended and presented at a couple of seminars it is very obvious that the global shift from the information economy to the connection economy is understood. The biggest challenge however is that marketers are finding the very fast change challenging to keep up with. As marketers we should be positioning ourselves to assist with this phenomenon, but we are typically accustomed to being the corporate communications gatekeepers. The growth of social networking and the blog represents a loss of that control. The biggest challenge is understanding that the trade-off is gaining credibility and consumer trust for being more transparent, honest and responsive.
Interesting perspective: "So, no matter who wins (won), don’t grumble and complain or celebrate and rejoice that all is lost or won. The work is ours to do. The mission is clear. Do the right thing- vote everyday for the world you want. Feed a child, pick up a piece of litter, give someone some help and some hope."
From: Brian Carl Brown [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: 2009-04-23 16:20 To: Ingrid Lotze Subject: I didn't vote yesterday...
I admit it- I didn’t vote yesterday…
But WAIT! Before you start throwing tomatoes (or other harder, heavier things) at me, let me explain: I COULD NOT VOTE, I am an American Citizen and a South African Permanent Resident, so, under South African law, I am not allowed to vote in the South African General Elections.
However, I do vote… EVERYDAY. Hopefully, so do you. You may not realize it, but we vote everyday economically when we spend our money- when I buy milk at Woolworths, bread at Pick N Pay and toilet roll at Spar, I am voting. I am voting for Ayrshire milk, a Woolie’s specialty; I am voting for good fresh bread at a reasonable price, a Pick N Pay claim to fame; and, I just like the Spar house brand of premium bog roll…
I vote for Jaguar (I used to vote for BMW). I vote for Acer (I used to vote for HP). I vote for MTN and Vodacom and iBurst (I have never voted for Telkom!). I vote for Detol, I don’t vote for any fragrances or fabric softeners. I vote for glass whenever I can and I try to not vote for plastic, but that has become impossible.
We also vote for clean streets when we choose NOT to throw trash out the window of our car, when we pick up the litter in front of our homes or businesses and you get a double counting vote when you pick up litter in a public place (especially beaches or parks!).
We vote for clean air when we service our cars regularly and drive conservatively.
We vote for less crime when we don’t purchase stolen goods and we report suspicious activities.
We vote for kindness and love when we open the door for someone, feed a homeless family or let the taxi in front of you in traffic voluntarily (if you wave the guy in before he cuts you off, you’ll be surprised at how much he appreciates that uncommon gesture).
I vote for making South Africa a GREAT country by the work I do (helping innovation oriented entrepreneurs). You see, I realize it’s up to us (ME, YOU, EVERYONE, ALL OF US) to create a wonderful, joy filled life in a great and prosperous country. No politician, no political party, no president can save us- it’s not even their job. We are the citizens. We are the problem solvers, we are the doers in a democracy, and fortunately, we are the recipients of the benefits of our good works.
So, no matter who wins (won), don’t grumble and complain or celebrate and rejoice that all is lost or won. The work is ours to do. The mission is clear. Do the right thing- vote everyday for the world you want. Feed a child, pick up a piece of litter, give someone some help and some hope.
If you or your business are doing something extraordinary to make life on earth or life in South Africa better, whether grand or micro in scale, drop me a line, let me know about it- I’d Love to hear about it, I’d Love to help you, I’d Love to let Others be inspired by it.
It’s up to us. Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Everyday.
It’s pretty much accepted that social media is the next big thing in the world of marketing and public relations. These revolutionary interfaces ascribe far greater power to the user, allowing them to drive the conversations they have with companies and brands and to determine the format of their interactions. While many industry professionals are bemoaning this loss of control, it is also creating greater, and more fruitful, opportunities for interaction with our target audiences, driving new and creative ways for us to build brands. If we use social media correctly, that is...
Many of us have already begun to integrate social media into our strategies, using tools like blogs, Twitter and incorporating networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. However, if we’re honest, many of us do so without a clear idea of our objectives. We understand the basic theory: that the key to social media is its users and not the technology itself, but not how to turn this theory into tangible results — or even how to formulate what these results might be.
Where do we start?
Step 1: Listen
Listen in to what is being said about your product or service and what is being said about your competitors. Understand where, in the eyes of your target market, you fit into the marketplace. This level of honesty is the beauty of using social media as a marketing tool.
Step 2: Monitor
If you are to listen to what is being said about your brand, you will need to monitor, on an ongoing basis, relevant conversations in real-time.
Step 3: Analyse
With this groundwork complete, it is time to piece the puzzle together. Analyse your information to derive valuable insights about who you will be talking to. Establish which platforms they use and why, what they talk about and how. What do you need to say to them? Do you need to intervene in their conversations immediately, turning a negative trend to positive outcomes? Or has someone already made contact?
Step 4: Participate
Now you need to participate. Participate, participate, participate. Your engagement with users, based on a thorough process of listening, monitoring and analysing, is how you will build your brand.
Used correctly, according to the principles of a proven business strategy, this media revolution may mean the world of difference to you and your clients.
About puruma business communications
Founded in 2002, puruma business communications is a full service, black empowered business communications partner which helps its customers, in various vertical sectors, to communicate more efficiently and effectively, thereby building their business longevity and profitability.
The company focuses on continually developing the potential of staff and customers, to achieve the highest possible standards of performance, growth and delivery of communication campaigns.
Puruma’s mission is to provide progressive, innovative and intelligent communication solutions in line with client’s business goals and to continually strive to achieve a measurable ROI on all campaigns.
Ingrid Lotze puruma business communications and join.the.dots = unleashing potential
In these tough economic times, some CEOs are already looking to business model innovation to address permanent shifts in their market landscapes.
The key is to realise that success starts by not thinking about business models at all. It starts with thinking about the opportunity to satisfy a real customer who needs a job done. The second step is to construct a blueprint laying out how your company will fulfill that need at a profit. The third is to compare that model to your existing model to see how much you’d have to change it to capture the opportunity. Once you do, you will know if you can use your existing model and organisation or need to separate out a new unit to execute a new model. Every successful company is already fulfilling a real customer need with an effective business model, whether that model is explicitly understood or not.
It has been found that new business models often look unattractive to internal and external stakeholders — at the outset. To see past the borders of what is and into the land of the new, companies need a road map.
The simple steps.
1.Realise that success starts by not thinking about business models at all. It starts with thinking about the opportunity to satisfy a real customer who needs a job done.
2.Construct a blueprint laying out how your company will fulfill that need at a profit.
3.Compare that model to your existing model to see how much you’d have to change it to capture the opportunity. Once you do, you will know if you can use your existing model and organisation or need to separate out a new unit to execute a new model. Every successful company is already fulfilling a real customer need with an effective business model, whether that model is explicitly understood or not.
A business model consists of four interlocking elements that, taken together, create and deliver value. The most important to get right, by far, is the first.
1.Customer value proposition (CVP).
As simple as this framework may seem, its power lies in the complex interdependencies of its parts. Major changes to any of these 4 elements affect the others and the whole. Successful businesses devise a more or less stable system in which these elements bond to one another in consistent and complementary ways.
Having been involved in the marketing environment for nearly 20 years I do understand the importance of a customer value proposition (CVP). Over the years we have quizzed many a manager on their value proposition and built a communications campaign around that.
It was only till recently when we were involved in a project focusing on CVPs that I realised that my short-coming was underestimating the influence a CVP has on the business.
The two basic financial performance approaches of revenue growth and productivity are directly influenced by the company's customer value proposition and yet I've never before queried how a manager can say "I don't have one".
I've taken the negative response at face value and moved on towards finding something that we can peg our communications on. The realisation now however is that an organisation cannot have sustainable differentiation if there is no recognisable value. And if there is no recognisable value then there is no customer loyaly, price negotiations become the order of the day and customer retention becomes difficult.
I'm no longer going to gloss over the CVP when putting together a marketing strategy or communications campaign, unless of course I only want the short term revenue. :-)
With the boom of online activity companys are having to look at new policies and proceedures for dealing with the participation of their staff in social media forums. How do you know what employees are doing on the internet and how do you keep control? It has now become important to have an email and Internet usage policy for your company so that employees have a clear idea on what they can use their emails and Internet access for.
Herewith a relevant article and a link below to a framework that can be adapted for your use.
The Internet conundrum at work
Employers are enraged by private mailing and web surfing - but drawing the line isn't easy
SURF'S UP: But your boss may not take kindly to your spending valuable office time catching up with your friends, checking out porn, or composing an award-winning blog slagging off the company that employs you.
" 'Many companies have a problem with the social media. This is hard to rule on because a happy worker is a productive worker' " Jacob Zuma
Most employers would agree that the Internet has revolutionised the office, but along with easy and quick access to information comes the darker side, and this is the area that concerns managers.
And it is not always easy to distinguish between work-related Internet use and private use.
According to Derek Jackson, a labour consultant at labourguide.co.za, it is best for employers to include a clear Internet usage policy in the employment contracts.
"To avoid misunderstanding, employees must take cognisance of the fact that when they enter the employer's premises, they are immediately under the control and direction of the employer.
"The employee is no longer in a position to do as he or she pleases," says Jackson.
The problem with Internet usage is not only the hours lost to cyberslacking; it is also the expense.
Research by UK firm Open Orchard showed that Internet and e-mail abuse cost small businesses in the UK almost £1.5-billion (about R17.6-billion) a year.
Of the companies questioned, 30% estimated that more than a day's work a week was lost due to staff sending personal e-mails and surfing the web.
Toby Shapshak, editor of Stuff magazine, says there are different categories to consider when deciding what constitutes abuse.
First are the clearly "out-and-out morally wrong" activities that are "not suitable for work" such as pornography and hate speech.
Second is the category that deals with pirating and downloading material.
The third category is social media such as Facebook and YouTube, which many companies consider a waste of employees' time, and expensive in terms of bandwidth devoured.
"Many companies have a problem with the social media. This is hard to rule on because a happy worker is a productive worker, so it is more of a grey area," says Shapshak.
The fourth category is using work equipment to do something private, like posting a blog.
When it comes to using your work e-mail to send private messages, Shapshak believes companies need to strike a balance between "fair usage" of the facilities and abuse.
In terms of blogging, irrespective of whose computer is being used, posting material that is critical of your employer is likely to upset even the most liberal of companies. Llewellyn Kriel, a subeditor at the daily newspaper the Sowetan, was fired in 2007 for bringing his employer's name into disrepute in one of his blogs.
Policies covering Internet usage also need to be flexible enough to meet the needs of different categories of workers. Many companies prohibit access to the social media websites for most employees, although senior members of staff will have access.
Similarly, says Shapshak, people working in creative industries will need to have access to YouTube in order to keep up to date with developments in their industry.
These figures definitely make Social media more attractive in the marketing mix in SA!
1.South Africa has become the 10th largest user of Twitter in the world, while the country has the most Facebook users on the continent, even surpassing Egypt.
2.South African Twitter users make up 0.85 percent of total online Twitter interaction. Twitter receives about 55 million visits a month, generating a whopping 467 500 visits a month. In visited site terms, next best is SABCnews.com (60 730).
3.1.4 million Facebook users in South Africa, the highest number on the continent.
4.MXit has 20 million visits - 35 000 messages sent a second in peak times - 15 million users.
South Africa has become the 10th largest user of Twitter in the world, while the country has the most Facebook users on the continent, even surpassing Egypt.
The figures speak for themselves. Research company Sysmos claims that South African Twitter users make up 0.85 percent of total online Twitter interaction.
Twitter receives about 55 million visits a month, generating a whopping 467 500 visits a month. In visited site terms, next best is SABCnews.com (60 730).
Research data processing organisation Startup Africa states that there are 1.4 million Facebook users in South Africa, the highest number on the continent.
MXit has 20 million visits - 35 000 messages sent a second in peak times - 15 million users.
But as people continue to flock to them (a recent report found nearly one in four Britons uses Facebook for an average of six hours a month, up four hours from this time last year, while Twitter has gone from 100 000 users to 2.6 million in the past year) and as most corporate websites are akin to brochures with a library attached, it's little wonder social networking sites are increasingly being seen as the bread and butter of customer relations management.
Gurus go so far as to predict they will have superseded corporate websites in terms of influence and power in two years' time.
"Businesses should be using social media because their customers are all using it," says Nancy Williams, managing director of the social media marketing consultancy Tiger Two.
"More and more people are going online to converse, be entertained and research purchases. The fact is, conversations are already happening online about their business or product, so they need to be involved with that."
Because social media is a conversation rather than a broadcast, it's a hugely effective marketing tool, she says - and what's more, it's free.
"Most people will respond more positively to a two-way conversation with a brand instead of being shouted at with yet another marketing message."
The result can be your supporters evangelising your brand in their own communities and thus delivering the holy grail of personal endorsement.
"Social media also provides brands with the ultimate focus group," says Gavin Sheppard, development director at the communications charity Media Trust, who believes the rise of social media is taking businesses by surprise just as much as the internet did a decade ago.
"Social networking enables companies to discover not just the answers to their questions, but the answers to questions they'd never thought of asking."
Virtually any kind of business can benefit, insists Robert Epstein, head of small and medium businesses at Microsoft.
"Take a restaurant, for example. They could use YouTube or MySpace to take customers behind the scenes visually. They could use Twitter to provide regular updates and Facebook and LinkedIn to enable people to post electronic versions of their CVs and to connect to other people to get ideas about how to improve."
Matt Rhodes, head of client services at social media experts FreshNetworks, says the starting point for any business is ensuring you know what you want to achieve - increased brand awareness, customer retention, a feedback mechanism and so on.
"Next, establish who you want to engage - new or existing customers, a certain part of your customer group or more general. Then work out where these people congregate and what will engage them best."
Rhodes also encourages brands to create their own online communities. "Ask people to upload their memories of a particular experience with a brand or to work with you to develop a product."
Always facilitate genuine dialogue. A survey by the Global Web Index found people think better of brands that provide a page on a social network where you can ask questions.
Audi recently used this to its advantage by using Facebook to help gather views as part of its product development cycle.
Don't forget the power of social networking for recruitment, adds Lucie Bickerdike, account executive at the Hoffman Agency.
"I was recruited exclusively through Twitter. My line manager was searching profiles for people looking for PR jobs, and my profile matched the criteria. We set up a meeting through Twitter, and I was offered the job." - The Independent
Marketers and PR professionals urgently need to change current perceptions ─ starting with their own
Marketing, PR and other communications professionals are both ideally skilled and uniquely positioned to stimulate positive change argues Ingrid Lotze, managing director of puruma business communications.
How do we, as South Africans, react to the prevailing mood of despondency? In the current economic downturn climate, it is increasingly easy to fall into the trap of feeling negatively about our beautiful country and the future.
As psychologist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankel has sagely observed, no matter how bad the situation might appear to be: “We have one freedom inside us that nobody can take away, the freedom of reaction and attitude in any given circumstance.”
Closer to home, some equally good advice has repeatedly been offered by Gary Bailey talking about 2010 where he says “Toughen up, get creative and get active as proud South Africans.”
It’s this change in attitude that we as marketers should try evoke. As communications specialists we are in a unique position: we are professionals in the art of spreading messages and stimulating ideas. What more powerful tool does one individual need to bring about positive change?
If each one of us adopted a small positive change project imagine the impact we would have on our society as a whole. As an example a small team at puruma business communications, including Brett Haggard, one of our writers, and our designer Danielle Le Groth from Design Lounge, decided to work pro bono for Sharklife ─ a non-profit organisation dedicated to ending the over-exploitation of shark populations and ocean fisheries in South Africa.
Passionate about the cause, but also in our belief that awareness is what brings about change, we used our communications expertise to educate the broader population, to raise people’s awareness of the atrocities that threaten our beautiful oceans and wildlife: extinction, over-fishing and the cruel practice of ‘finning’, where a shark’s fins are removed and the animal is then returned to the water to drown or bleed to death – all in the name of fine cuisine. The word is not out there.
As marketing and PR professionals, we, perhaps more than most, understand the potential impact of changing attitudes, and where better to start than with our own? In particular, the attitudes we hold about how much of a difference we as individual communications specialists can make. As Mahatma Gandhi famously instructed ─ be the change you wish to see in the world.
Sitting at a Streaming Media conference for the past two days each and every speaker says the same thing over and over. It is not about the technology, it is about the business strategy and finding the right tools to achieve that. The same thing applies to social media. The article below reinforces this message.
Amid the endless pronouncements about social media -- often shortened to "social" these days by consultants trying to sound like they know what they are talking about -- is the reality that social media is not a solution, or a sure bet.
Social media can't:
Substitute for marketing strategy. A Twitter campaign or a Facebook page that announces your weekly specials is not a marketing strategy.
Succeed without top management buy-in. Social media requires a way of thinking that includes willingness to listen to customers, make changes based on feedback and trust employees to talk to customers.
The culture of fear (of job loss, of losing message control, of change) is ingrained in corporate cultures. Top management has to want to change.
Be viewed as a short-term project. Social media is not a one-shot deal. It's a long-term commitment to openness, experimentation and change that requires time to bear fruit.
Produce meaningful, measurable results quickly. One of the complaints about social media is that it can't be measured. But there are many things that can be measured, including engagement, sentiment and whether increased traffic leads to sales.
Those results can't be produced or measured in the short term. Like PR, social media marketing often produces its best results in the second and third year.
Be done in-house by the vast majority of companies. A successful social-media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience and the best social media marketers now have more than 10 years of experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content and contests into online marketing.
You need strategy, contacts, tools, and experience -- a combination not generally found in in-house teams, who often reinvent the wheel or use the wrong tools.
Provide a quick fix to the bottom line or a tarnished reputation. Social media can sometimes provide quick results for a company that's already a star. When a well-loved company like Zappos or Google employs social media, its loyal fans and followers pay attention.
However, there's a lot of desperation in a lot of corporate suites these days, and many companies seem been convinced that a social-media campaign can provide a quick fix to sagging sales or reputation issues. Sorry, nuh, uh.
Be done without a realistic budget. Building a site that incorporates interactivity, allows user-generated content and perhaps also includes e-commerce doesn't come cheap from anyone who knows what they are doing.
Even taking free software like WordPress and making it function as an effective interactive site, incorporating e-commerce and creating style sheets that integrate with the company's branding, takes more than time. That takes skill, experience, and money.
Guarantee sales or influence. Unless your effort can pass the "who cares" test -- and most simply can't -- your social media efforts will fall flat.
And unless you know how to drive traffic to your contest, video, blog, event, etc., you'll have little more than an expensive field of dreams.
Be done by "kids" who "understand social innately" You can climb Mount Kilaminjaro without a sherpa guide, but why would you? Experience and perspective can make the trip easier, or even save your life.
Companies trying to run social media without experienced consultants waste time, money and reputation on their efforts. And then, sadly, many decide that this new-fangled approach doesn't work.
Replace PR. No matter how great your website, video contest, blog, Twitter strategy, etc., you still need publicity. Or you may end up with a tree falling in the forest and nobody hearing it.
This article appeared in the October issue of Road Ahead magazine. Because everyone on My Byte is part of the ICT supply chain, this article is of relevance and worth reading
The economic crisis has forced companies to look at ways to better control their costs and renew their capabilities across their global supply chains.
Globalisation has led many firms to restructure their procurement, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing/distribution functions, and the economic slow down has impacted nearly all industries. This pressures firms to continue cost-reductions and increase penetration into developed and emerging markets.
According to Anthony Ross, co-director of the new Global Supply Chain Management course at the UCT Graduate School of Business and an Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, in summary there are five key challenges now facing supply chain managers:
1) The lack of internal supply chain competency to manage partners; 2) Managing product quality and safety as corporate supply chains span multiple countries; 3) Improving operational performance in the supply chain (procurement, manufacturing, distribution, and post-sales customer support) while remaining flexible enough to respond to market changes; 4) Environmental and social sustainability initiatives; 5) Linking the income statement and balance sheet to supply chain performance since this is the best view between strategy and operational execution of that strategy.
In order to tackle these challenges and realise the opportunities of a global supply chain, many businesses are taking a fresh look at their supply chains and, in particular, tracing how logistical activities directly impact financial performance.
“It is vital for supply chain managers to come to grips with a strategic profit view of their firm’s supply chain in the context of globalising operations – one that can map how benefits can result from logistical improvements that reduce cost on the bottom line, and also generate revenues on the top line,” says Ross.
A growing body of evidence globally is pointing to Lean tools – techniques that stem from the manufacturing sector, most notably the Toyota Production System – as a possible aid in the battle for greater efficiency and cost-saving.
Lean logistics has its roots in the just-in-time philosophy (JIT) philosophy – which has its roots in Japan at Toyota, and is often referred to as the Toyota Production System (TPS).
A key element of Lean is the elimination of waste and uncertainty. In the context of logistics and supply chain management, excess inventory has been identified as a major waste. It is used by firms as a buffer against uncertainty, which is viewed as a wasteful practice. Thus critical in Lean logistics is the elimination or reduction of inventory throughout the supply chain, as pointed out by Handfield, Monczka, Guinipero and Patterson in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management (2009).
Excess inventory ties up stock and capital and hides problems within a supply chain. Examples of some of the kinds of problems that can often remain hidden to firms are high levels of irregularity in delivery times, bad quality product or frequent breakdown of equipment or trucks. A first step in making a supply chain Lean would be the removal of excess inventory between points in the chain, and would entail moving from the situation shown in Exhibit 1 to the situation in Exhibit 2.
In the supply chain, inventory can be compared to water in a dam, and problems or wasteful business practices can be thought of as rocks on the dam floor (Exhibit 3). It is very difficult to see or clear away these rocks while the water level is high, but as the water is drained from the dam, the rocks gradually become visible and can be dealt with. Without draining the water (reducing inventory within the supply chain) these problems would remain hidden and unresolved.
A serious attempt by both buyers and suppliers within a supply chain to eliminate any quality defects
Collaborative buyer-supplier relationships
Interchange of information between supply chain members
A Lean transportation system is characterised by stability and delivery according to a predictable schedule, of smaller, more frequent loads of goods rather than large, infrequent loads.
A kanban system involves the use of simple signalling devices to trigger the production and transportation of goods through the supply chain. These signalling devices can be simple manual cues, such as the arrival of an empty container at a manufacturer, to the use of more sophisticated bar-coding systems, which show the flow of goods through the supply chain in a visible way.
Beyond the business world, Lean logistics is increasingly being used to bring relief to areas hit by disasters. “The most important thing in a sudden disaster is logistics,” says Adrian van der Knapp (co-ordinator for emergency relief operations for the United Nations). He explains that although the UN often receives much aid in donations, it struggles to get the aid to disaster victims, and that the principles underlying Lean logistics can be leveraged in getting aid to victims rapidly.
Lean logistics therefore is widely applicable, and not only results in the faster and more efficient movement of goods through the supply chain, but also in a significant reduction in costs (associated with inventory and transportation) – consequently increased profits are accrued to firms within the supply chain. This experience has been documented by firms as diverse as Amazon.com, Lockhead Martin Energy Systems and numerous hospitals.
Hamieda Parker is Senior Lecturer at the UCT Graduate School of Business. Parker lectures on the operations management core course, and on the supply chain elective course on the UCT MBA programme; and on the Post Graduate Diploma operations and innovation course. She also co-hosts the Global Supply Chain Management short course at the UCT GSB.
With the bastion that was printed media struggling to cope with declining advertising spends and the explosion of social media, campaigns that connect companies directly with their customers will distinguish spectacular PR agencies from the average, writes Ingrid Lotze, managing director of puruma business communications.
The announced closure of The Weekender and its subsequent last edition recently is sad news. However, its demise is merely an exclamation point in a much larger tale that is playing itself out locally and abroad.
2009 has not been a gentle mistress for printed publications in South Africa. According to Ibis Media, almost 130 publications have been suspended, closed down or combined as of the end of October 2009. While nearly the same amount of new publications have been launched, presumably to exploit new niches, print media is precariously balanced on its pedestal, with declining advertising spend threatening to knock it off.
Globally, the trend is no different. Paper Cuts — a website that tracks the number of shut-downs and job losses in the American newspaper industry — estimates that over 130 US newspapers have closed so far in 2009.
The evidence seems to suggest that print media is struggling to remain relevant to audiences who are increasingly turning to the internet for their news and relying on niche communities of their peers for information, advice and guidance.
While print media remains a valid channel for specific messages clients may wish to promote, the power to define a clients’ brands, services and products has long since shifted out of these traditional mainstays and into the hands of the public.
Blogs, social networks, collaborative online information portals, such as Wikipedia, and easily accessible multimedia sites are helping individuals define and dictate how they interact with companies and brands.
More importantly, this shift has highlighted the importance of creating two-way ‘conversations’ with customers, whether it is through digital social media or more commonplace avenues.
A toppled wall
As audiences and communication channels have multiplied and fragmented, controlling the flow of information has become almost impossible. The mentality that divides public relations, the media and the public is the debris of a toppled wall that cannot be rebuilt. Nevertheless, this destruction is also beneficial and an invitation to PR agencies and companies to talk, directly and honestly, with the communities only understood via proxy for so long.
One only needs to look at the example of Frank Eliason, a Comcast service manager who suggested managing Comcast’s customer queries through Twitter. The move has allowed Comcast, with very little capital outlay, to see what people are ‘tweeting’ about their service and engage with these individuals one-on-one on a public platform where everyone is watching. Comcast and Frank’s success is not the result of leveraging a technological service, but through recognising that it is the people that matter, not the technological medium.
Printed media continues to offer certain benefits: the credibility readers attach to the publication and writers associated with it, a mature channel of communication and a platform for focused advertising campaigns. But PR agencies have always wished for an undiluted, efficient means of communicating with their client’s customers. As the saying warns, be careful what you wish for because you may receive it.
This article below, written by Richard Mulvey, gives great advice for business in 2010. The funny thing is that I watched the movie called "City Slickers" with Billy Crystal in December where they say "what is your one thing?". The take out from the movie for me was build a focus on that one thing and make sure all other decisions take that one thing into account. This article echoes the thought, and Richard says you will be amazed what a difference that will make to the success of your year.
As business owners, business managers and business people we are faced with a wide range of challenges. Our main aim is to grow the business but, as the current world recession begins to wind itself down, I know of many companies who’s main aim over the last two years was just to stay in business. It’s been tough! I don’t have to remind you of that and many of us are still here by dramatically reducing our costs and some creative credit control.
Last year I overheard a senior CEO saying to his colleague “The light at the end of the tunnel just went out”. I am not sure I agree with his sentiment but I can certainly understand his point of view. For many of us there seemed to be no end in sight.
So what is in store for us in the future? Far cleverer people than me are still arguing over that vexing question but for me I am in a very positive frame of mind. I am lucky in my business as I speak to many different business people from many different industries and the feeling I get from these people is cautious optimism. Nobody wants to be too optimistic just yet, but the feeling is that the light has come on at the end of the tunnel and it is burning brightly.
There is also another bit of really good news. If you are still in business after nearly two years of recession it is because you have been able to adapt to a different set of rules. Your business is now leaner, more efficient and better controlled than it ever has been in the past so you are perfectly placed to take advantage of an upturn in the economy when it happens.
So where do we go from here? We have to continue to grow of course. If we are not moving ahead we are moving backwards. There is no standing still in business.
In my first sentence I said that we are faced with a wide range of challenges and there is a risk that we will divide our time equally amongst all these challenges in order to produced the desired growth. If we average out our effort in this way then our results will be….. average. I suggest that you take another look at where you will be spending your time this year.
Many years ago I was appointed as sales director for a major corporate company in a service industry. This company was the largest in its industry and had, quite frankly, become complacent. A few weeks after I was appointed a new CEO took over and got the senior team together to discuss the future. We spent all day looking at the various challenges we were facing and discussing potential goals we could go for. Each department had their own challenges of course and each department head argued the importance of their goals in the overall growth of the company. Eventually by mid afternoon we had narrowed the list of company goals to about 20 when the new CEO stepped in. He had been particularly quiet up until now, but when he did speak he certainly commanded authority.
He suggested that we couldn’t have 20 goals or even 3. We must choose just one goal for the year and everybody must focus their full attention on achieving that one goal. Each department would still have to do their work of course, but the “One Goal” must be taken into account for every decision that is taken.
The results of this approach were amazing. Not only did we achieve that “One Goal” but all the other things that we wanted to achieve came about as well. The company grew because we became well know for being dramatically better at that one thing (The Goal) than any of our competitors.
For me that was a very good lesson. It is very easy to be busy with general stuff. There are always business things to do and they can easily take up all the time in a working day/week/year. It is much better, however, to have one main aim for the year. Make it interesting, make it wild, make it fun, make sure it is something that will make a difference to your position in the market place.
I have recently launched a new, fairly complicated website offering a service to my customers. I have been toying with the project for 18 months but it was not until I became “Laser Focused” on the project that it was completed.
The truly great achievers in the world are not those people who are good at all things, rather they are so focused that they are exceptional at one thing at the expense of everything else. The same could be said of great companies.
As you begin to see the light at the end of your business tunnel consider what it is you want to be great at this year. Develop Laser Focus on that one thing and make sure all other decisions take that one thing into account. You will be amazed what a difference that will make to the success of your year.