Archive for April, 2010

7 Steps to Outperforming Competitors

Posted in Business Development/Sales Management & Sales on April 19th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Apr 09, 2010 -

It’s times like these, when your competitors are distracted, that you can get the jump on them. If your competitors have had to lay off staff, or cut expenses, they may be just limping along.  Marketing was probably one of the first things they pulled back on – even while knowing they shouldn’t have.  Chances are they haven’t invested in new technology … trying instead to “get by” with the computers and systems they have. By the time their business picks up (if it ever does), they will have a lot of catching up to do.

You, on the other hand, can be putting this time to good use. Strive to outperform your competitors while they are distracted.  Here are seven steps that will help you get ahead of the competition:

1.     Set clear growth and profitability goals. Not just a fuzzy idea of where you want to be next week, next month or next year – your goals must be much more specific. What are your sales targets? What steps do you need to take each week to meet your sales goals?  Break it down into small steps.  The problem most small businesses face is too much distraction, too many projects at once, too little focus. It’s a lot easier to beat the competition when you are focused on it.  Here are some resources to help you with goal setting and planning: Plan-As-You-Go Business Planning and SCORE Business Tools.

2.     Know your customers’ needs and wants better than your competitors. If you haven’t done a customer survey within the past 12 months, it’s time for one.  And communicate the results widely through your company – a survey is no good unless you use the data gathered. Most companies do not share their survey results widely internally – you’ll be better than average if you do. Use tools like SurveyMonkey, Constant Contact or QuestionPro to perform surveys painlessly online.  Or go on customer visits. Call on your customers to see how they are doing, or whether they have any problems you can help them with.  You’ll get a chance to see them in their working environment, which will help you understand their needs better.

3.     Find out why customers leave. Are you spending more time bringing a customer into your sales process than figuring out why they left?  You’re not alone – many companies (including competitors) put their efforts on filling the sales funnel, but never bother to track or analyze lost sales or lost customers. This dooms you to an endless replay of the same mistakes over and over, like something out of the movie Groundhog Day. Put in place a formal process to ask customers why they are cancelling your service or why they chose a competitor’s product. This can be done by phone or by online questionnaire. Compile the results into a report that is shared with managers and other key personnel each month.  You’ll soon spot patterns suggesting weaknesses to fix.

4.     Focus outside the 4 walls – and use social media to help. Know your competitors, what they are offering, their marketplace reputation and their weaknesses and strengths.  Insist that your product development, sales, marketing and customer service personnel become and stay familiar with competitive offerings.  Comparisons should be to external standards – i.e., how your company stacks up against competitors.  Don’t compare progress to internal standards. Checking out what competitors are doing…and even their reputation in the marketplace…has never been easier with social media. Review sites such as Yelp! can be a goldmine.  Also, read: How to Monitor Your Competition Using Social Media and 11 Competitive Intelligence Tools for SMBs.

5.     Know your “customer numbers.” Do you know your customer retention rate? Do you know your acquisition cost for new customers, i.e., how much it costs to get each new customer?  These metrics can be eye-opening, and may cause you to rethink how much effort you place on getting new customers once you realize the typical high cost.  Companies that track these two metrics better appreciate the value of keeping existing customers happy. Read: The Cost of Acquiring New Clients and What is an Acceptable Cost Per Acquisition

6.     Benchmark. Have you measured your progress against others in your industry? Sure, you want your business to be unique/original/one of a kind.  But it makes sense to measure how your business performs compared to others with roughly similar products, services or business models. Knowing how your business stacks up can tell you how much and where to improve. Read: How to Use Benchmarking in Business.

7.     Review, review, review. None of this stuff will be any good to your business if you don’t track your results and review your findings, not just day to day in the beginning while it remains a shiny new priority but monthly/quarterly/yearly to determine whether you’re on the right path. Learn more: 60-Second Guide to Using Your Business Plan to Monitor Progress.

So, the tools and techniques to outperform competitors are at your disposal. Will you wait for the tide to rise buoying up both you and your competitors –  or chart your own course of growth and prosperity?

Posted in Memorable Quotes on April 14th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

“The last word in business is always a number”.

Show Me The Metrics

Posted in Social Media on April 14th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Niall Cook
Worldwide Director of Marketing Technology, Hill & Knowlton

Many agencies are fudging the issue of how to measure the impact of social media and word of mouth marketing. Yet, as long as the objectives are clear, there is a plethora of metrics that can be used to demonstrate return on investment.

As far back as 2004, observers tolled the death knell of cavalier spending:

“For years, corporate marketers have walked into budget meetings like neighborhood junkies. They couldn’t always justify how well they spent past handouts or what difference it all made. They just wanted more money – for flashy TV ads, for big-ticket events, for, you know, getting out the message and building up the brand. But those heady days of blind budget increases are fast being replaced with a new mantra: measurement and accountability.”[1]

Fast forward to late 2009 and a survey undertaken by Visible Technologies and SiriusDecisions finds that twenty-one per cent of US business-to-business companies admit to not tracking the success of their social media marketing activities. So what went wrong?

Social media may well be experiencing a honeymoon period that currently excludes it from the same levels of measurement and accountability demanded from other marketing activities, but surely that can’t last long. For it to find its way into the marketer’s toolbox, even if it is eventually dismissed as a passing fad, it will still need measuring. Smart marketers should therefore incorporate metrics into their social media strategies today, and not wait to be told to do so tomorrow.

So let’s dispel the mystery that seems to surround social media metrics. Firstly, a metric is nothing more than a measuring system that quantifies a trend, dynamic or characteristic. Metrics are used because they are objective, can be compared across different geographies and disciplines, and provide a common language by which anyone in the business can assess performance. Perhaps it is that last point that makes so many reluctant to set metrics for social media marketing objectives.

Secondly, smart metrics start with SMART objectives: if the objectives are not specific, it is impossible to know what to measure; if they are not achievable or realistic, there is little point in measuring them; and if they are not timed, there are no parameters. It’s also worth remembering that not all objectives are financial; they may be reputational or even educational and, in the case of social media, are probably more likely to be.

Thirdly, when we talk about social media marketing metrics we are concerned primarily with campaign/channel effectiveness, but these sit within the context of broader marketing and business metrics that every marketer should already be tracking. So when people ask about the return on investment of social media marketing it is really the wrong question. They should be asking how social media marketing is contributing towards the return on investment of marketing as whole.

So what metrics are appropriate? In their Measurement and Metrics Guidebook, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) offers an overview of the kinds of social media marketing metrics available, as well as some of the methods that can be used, summarized below.

Metric Applies to Measured by
Advocacy Intent and/or behavior of making recommendations Net Promoter® Score
Brand Advocacy Quotient
Online Promoter Score
Conversation Value Value of positive or negative brand-related conversations Net Promoter®
Media Mix Models
Conversation Volume/Share Quantities of word of mouth within a period of time Syndicated research
Bespoke research
Informal tools
Cost Deflection Removing hard and soft costs from existing process Cost deflection calculation
Cost Per Conversion The cost of getting one person to take a desired action CPC calculation
Marketing Mix Modeling Relative impact of different contributors to success Bespoke research
Reach How far a marketing message has spread Network reach calculation

Ultimately, some argue, the only metric worthy of any merit is return on investment (ROI).

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment)

However, caution should be exercised when dealing with ROI as the only metric to measure social media marketing. When senior executives ask, ‘what’s the ROI of this social media stuff we’re doing?’ what they’re often asking is how its performance can be measured. In this sense, ROI is used as a collective term for metrics like those above, and the most appropriate one must be chosen on the basis of the original objective of the campaign. If, for example, the objective of a campaign were to achieve an increase in sales by 60% within twelve months then ROI as the metric would make perfect sense. However if the objective were to increase awareness of a brand amongst a particular customer segment, even if the purpose of this increased awareness was to effect sales, an ROI metric would not be able to tell you whether or not you had succeeded.

The days of fudging social media metrics are over. There is a wide variety of well established and, in most cases, easy to apply metrics already available, but they must be selected based on objectives. Which begs the bigger question: do you know what you’re actually trying to achieve?


[1] Brady, Diane, with David Kiley and Bureau Reports, “Making Marketing Measure Up,” Business Week

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Posted in Memorable Quotes on April 14th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Persistence beats resistance!

Posted on “Memorable Quotes” on LinkedIn


Posted in Articles on April 14th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

What is rude late and what is acceptably late?
We have this preoccupation with time, and the niceties of punctuality.

I set out each day not to be late. Late for my team meetings, late for client meetings, late for my guitar teacher, or late for meeting my wife.

How do I go?  Well, pretty good, I guess a 75% pass rate on being almost on time.  But it seems my past haunts me.

As ancient Greek shipbuilder said:  ”I built all those ships, and made love to just one goat… ”

So maybe I wasn’t the most punctual person in the past.  But I never set out to ‘dis’ anybody it just seemed that time got away.

 Today when my general manager asks “how did the meeting go?” I will start by proudly start. “Well I got there right on time for the meeting” or pump my chest out and proudly say “… well I got there a few minutes early…”

Big deal you might say. What else could be expected from someone who markets a program which includes time management.

I do know this however from my life of observing punctuality.

There are different levels of acceptance to lateness across Australia.  In Melbourne you are not late for a client meeting if you arrive and touch the receptionist desk, like tigie touchwood, if you are within 5-7 minutes of your appointment time.

In Sydney, maybe because of the traffic, you have another 10 minutes grace.

Maybe also wisdom has kicked in and I judge my ability to arrive late by the personality of the person I am meeting. If I judge him or her to be analytical by personality type, I know I have zero tolerance to play with. He or she will expect me to be there on the dot- not a minute late or early. They are task orientated and don’t care if King Kong is standing in the way, come hell or high water their meeting is expected to start and finish on time.

The other personality types you have more to play with.

 Also words have a role.
You never utter the words you are “late” … you are behind schedule. Just as Eddie swapped ‘pest’ for the misdemeanour of his coach in preference to a more maligning word, subtlety plays a part. (Tardiness is a word which also fits well.)

Maybe if all this personal self rationality wears thin, I am buoyed by the fact that half the world arrives on time and the other half just arrives.

So if anyone reading this has a meeting in future and I arrive 10 minutes after the designated time, and blurt out that I apologise for my tardiness just smile and I will know the gig is up!

The interesting question is at what stage of the clasp do you offer an apology for your lateness …?

 Well gotta go or I will be behind schedule for my next meeting!

Keith Millar

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