samedi 31 janvier 2015

Global Communication Plan – Where Do I Start?


“Where do I start?” This is one of the most common questions I get from clients just dipping their toe into international. Building and launching an international communications plan is a daunting task. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or revising a prior plan that did not quite work to meet your goals, it’s best to begin by answering a few basic questions. This will help you see the current situation clearly and organize initial steps.

Internal Priorities:

What are the marketing and communication priorities outside of the US? You need to determine what will be used internally to measure success, and then be sure to address those KPIs in your communications plan. Start by identifying your target audience. If it’s end-users of a product or service, then identify which publications are most read by that audience. Remember – your message and tactics will be different if you are targeting general media or trade media.

Here are a few other points to consider:

  • What is the budget per country for communications? If you have a budget for an entire region, you’ll need to set priorities to make sure you can cover the important countries with enough “oomph” to make you noticed.

  • Come up with your ‘A-list’ of top priority countries first. These are usually the countries in which there is a direct sales effort, with local staff, or focused partners/distributors. In the next column, put in the language of that country. This is where most of your budget should be targeted.

  • Segment the rest of the target market into ‘B’ and ‘C’ lists. These are your second and third tier countries. You’ll have a different strategy for each of these groups, and you need to allocate your budget accordingly. Be sure to add the languages appropriate for each country.

  • Next, you need to identify the target audience and outlets. Are you going to focus your communications efforts solely on trade media? Solely on general business media? Or is it some combination of the two? Are there any differences in the target media between the A, B, and C lists? If there are, be sure to make notes on each list regarding the target market. Try to add percentages to each media category. This will help you focus your resources.

Finally, set up your timetable. When are you planning major news regarding products or corporate information of relevance to the particular segment lists? Are there any trade shows that are scheduled that you’ll need to include in your communications plan?

Setting Up the Approval Chain:

Once your priorities are set, setting up an approval chain that is easy to manage is the next step in your planning.

The current approval chain for domestic releases works well for international ones, but with one twist – the individuals involved must understand that the message is not for a US audience, and may need to be crafted differently from releases they’re used to seeing. If this is explained at the outset, few problems should ensue.

Have secondary approval points to use as a backup when primary approval points in your chain are traveling, on holiday, or otherwise unavailable. This will help keep you on schedule.

When dealing with multiple versions of the same release, sending them up the approval chain at the same time works well, provided you make sure the file names are unique, and you explain clearly in the accompanying email. That way, those reading and approving know exactly which release is going to which market. It’s not that difficult, and many companies do this successfully.

Most companies with local offices include one or more representative from that office in the approval chain for any release targeted for that market. This can work to your advantage. The local proofreader can assist you in tailoring your message for this specific market, and greatly increase pickup. Use this resource if you have one you can trust. However, be aware of time zones. If you are having a local office or individual approve/modify translations, this can add days to your communication timetable. Be sure to take that into account.

Once you have your priorities set and internal processes in place, you can dig into crafting your message.

Global Communication Plan – Where Do I Start?

How Grumpy Cat Made $100 Million: Lessons From the YouTube Sensation

Got a cute pet and a computer? You could earn a cool $100 million.

At least that’s what media outlets claim happened to the owners of Grumpy Cat.

Tabatha Bundesen and her family, owners of the famously unhappy feline, have raked in $100 million over the course of the past two years, reports U.K. newspaper The Independent. Bundesen was able to quit her waitressing job just days after Grumpy Cat’s first social media appearance.

Anyone who’s seen Grumpy Cat (and if you’re not living under a rock, you’ve seen her) won’t find this number hard to believe. But how exactly did this gloomy-looking cat (whose real name is Tartar Sauce) turn into a cash machine?

Cats Rule the Interwebs

Forget 1’s and 0’s; the Internet was basically built out of cats. Or at least, that’s what an alien species visiting our planet for the first time could very well conclude.

Before Grumpy Cat, there was Keyboard Cat, who rose to fame for tickling the ivories while wearing a blue T-shirt (don’t ask me; I don’t get it, either). Maru went viral for antics like crawling into boxes and other containers that were way too small for him. Nyan Cat became the fifth-most-viewed YouTube video in 2011, and it’s not even a real cat; it’s an animated GIF of a cat with the body of a Pop-Tart (again, don’t ask me why it was so popular).

What makes any of these felines worthy of fame or fortune? Maybe it’s because cats have a decidedly dignified and independent streak that makes them especially comical when put in ridiculous situations. Maybe Grumpy Cat’s decidedly “meh” attitude speaks to something in our Millennial spirit. Or maybe the Internet is just too weird to analyze.

Want to Go Viral? Build a Brand on YouTube

Grumpy Cat’s big debut came on YouTube, a platform that’s introduced us to more than a few cultural-phenomenons-turned-big-name-celebrities in recent years. In fact, as outlets like Variety and Vogue have pointed out, YouTube stars are quickly becoming more popular than Hollywood box-office favorites.

Consider the likes of Smosh, a comedy duo whose parody videos went so viral they’ve got their own feature-length movie in the works. Or PewDiePie, a Swedish video game commentator whose videos are so popular he was featured in the recent two-part South Park season finale.

YouTube allows the average guy (or cat) off to the street to reach millions of potential viewers at the click of a button, and the inherent shareability of the medium means popular videos can reach stratospheric fame overnight. If you’ve got something people will respond to, your video could take off in no time.

Under Professional Management

Grumpy Cat’s owners capitalized on her popularity by hiring agent Ben Lashes, whose clients include the aforementioned Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat. Under his management, Grumpy Cat has secured an endorsement from Friskies, a two-book deal and her own holiday special, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever .

Not to mention the merchandise — and there’s a lot of it. Care for a “Grumppuchino”? While creativity and a little luck may help you get the public’s attention, it helps to think like a business if you really want to cash in on YouTube fame.

In the End

The $100 million figure has since been refuted by Grumpy Cat’s owners, who refuse to disclose the actual amount they’ve earned. Even if their real total is significantly less, it’s still pretty impressive for people who simply had a cat, a camera and a dream.

Who knows — maybe the next Grumpy Cat is living in your house…

Your Turn: What do you think of Grumpy Cat’s Popularity? Is she worth $100 million?

This post originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

How Grumpy Cat Made $100 Million: Lessons From the YouTube Sensation

This Little Girl Fooled A Chuck E Cheese’s Game Into Giving Her Unlimited Tickets (Video)

Chuck E. Cheese’s prizes are pretty worthless, but kids love to play the company’s games in the hopes of winning enough tickets to claims the facilities most unattainable toys. One little girl has figured out how to beat the company at its own games, and her prize is a mountain full of tickets.

The YouTube video was uploaded 24 hours ago and has already managed to attract 108,000 viewers.

Chuck E Cheese Prizes

This Little Girl Fooled A Chuck E Cheese’s Game Into Giving Her Unlimited Tickets (Video)

2015 Super Bowl XLIX Commercials Playlist (Watch Now)

Companies pay top dollars for a small 30 second slot during Super Bowl. Super Bowl commercial are probably more popular than the game itself. It is one of the major attractions of a Super Bowl event, at least what I have noticed in the last few years.

It is also one of the important article that I publish every year. As usual I collect all these Super Bowl commercials into a single YouTube playlist so you can enjoy them all in one place. Below is this year’s list so far (22 videos).

The list has commercials from Budweiser, Bud Light, BMW, Kia, T-Mobile, Mercedes-Benz, Wix, GrubHub and many more. I will keep adding more videos to this playlist as they are aired and I find them. Please don’t hesitate to suggest if I missed some other Super Bowl XLIX commercials in this list.

2015 Super Bowl XLIX Commercials Playlist

For some reason, old commercials have been removed from YouTube by their respective owner. Not sure why, but they are literary GONE. Well, at least enjoy these while they are still here.

Don’t hesitate to share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter etc.

(Photo credit: Ken Lund / Foter / CC BY-SA)

2015 Super Bowl XLIX Commercials Playlist (Watch Now)

Online Marketing Is Here To Stay – Part 1

Online MarketingThere’s no way to get around the fact that online marketing will make a huge impact on any business in the years to come. 2015 is certainly no exception. With so many venues to include in your game plan, it’s important to understand three simple facets that can really make a difference in the way you choose your online marketing program. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran looking to “remodel” dated expectations and implementations, this series will focus on the beauty and simplicity of Online Marketing when done properly. The three areas of main focus are Content Marketing, Social Media, and Email Marketing. Your audience is waiting to hear your virtual voice. Give it to them in a manner that is consistent with your businesses values and dependable customer commitment to excellence.

Part 1: Content Marketing Is Here to Stay

In the first part of the series we will be focusing on Content Marketing and how it’s been growing in the world of Online Marketing in recent years. So what’s the big deal? It’s time to prepare because it’s only going to get bigger. According to the Content Marketing Institute , “This year, we asked marketers to indicate any challenges they had with content marketing, and then select one as their greatest challenge. As you will see, producing enough content is now the biggest challenge across B2B marketers, at 64 percent, as compared to producing the kind of content that engages, which was the top challenge reported in last year’s study”. Learning where to start with content marketing can be a big mountain to climb, but the first steps in creating the type of content that works best for you lies in answering relevant questions and using an engaging narrative that your customers can understand and relate to. By creating that content you make the subject approachable for your audience and similar industries to share with their target market.

Create Relatable & Relevant Content

Being able to clearly convey your ideas and focus can be a difficult balancing act. On one hand you want to get across specific information that you believe is relevant to the consumer. On the other hand you want to tell it in a way that allows them to relate to it on a personal level. There are tools available, such as BoostSuite, that allow maintaining up to date website content, blogs, and the ability to share successful content in a trusted environment exciting and easy. Boostsuite uses the Article Exchange to publishing content for Co-Marketing, which aides in building a better online audience to market to. To aide in creating the kind of content your readers are looking for you can use simple steps such as:

A General Content Marketing Checklist:

  • Identify key words, phrases, and inquiries associated with your brand

  • Create a specific and through editorial calendar

  • Strategize topics around business launches

  • Share your content on co-marketing sites like the BoostSuite Article Exchange

  • Enable social network sharing on specific content

  • Write white papers, ebooks, and blog post around common customer problems and how to solve them

  • Guest blog and share all the content

When it comes to content marketing, everyone is doing it, and you should too. There are millions of sites on the web where you can do it alone or with a friend! Writing relevant content helps you gain recognition with your peers and increase organic search engine ranking. When you create content for any facet of your online presence, it’s another way to create a lasting relationship with new and existing customers. With tools like Boost Suite you are set up for success, a scalable direction, and long-term content marketing sustainability because you’re no longer climbing the content marketing mountain alone.

Online Marketing Is Here To Stay – Part 1

6 Things Your Website Still Must Have To Get Found Online

Despite Google’s updates that make on-page SEO less important for search engine rankings, there are a few things that remain vitally important.


Have you noticed there are a shrinking number of search engine optimization (SEO) firms these days? Or that some traditional SEO agencies are diversifying into other services as quickly as possible?

That’s because Google has dramatically changed the nature of SEO. First, some background.

The practice of SEO can be divided into two parts: 1) On-page SEO and 2) Off-page

  1. SEO.On-page SEO has to do with things like including the right keywords on your website.

  2. Off-page SEO is about improving your website’s reputation on the web, which is largely determined by having relevant, authoritative sites linking to you.

Until recently, tinkering with a site’s on-page SEO could do a lot to improve a page’s search engine rankings. Some of that tinkering was referred to as “black hat” tactics, which tricked the search engine algorithms to achieve higher rankings.

Those black hat SEO days are just about over.

Google has become even smarter. Its search engine can now tell the difference between spammy websites that try to game the system and legitimate websites that provide relevant, high-quality content. And, if a site is using black hat tactics in violation of the Google Webmaster guidelines, it will be punished with lower rankings.

Modern SEO is now more about optimizing your site for searchers first and search engines second. If your website’s content is getting linked to by other authoritative (non-spammy) sites and is being shared on social media, your search results will improve.

There are hundreds of other factors in Google’s ever-changing algorithm to ensure that its results are tailored to what people are looking for. That’s why if humans like the content on your site, so will Google.

However, there are still some vitally important on-page considerations to make sure your site gets found online.

  1. Page Titles – These are the titles that are presented in search engine results (located in your site’s HTML code). Write page titles that describe a page’s content. Include relevant keywords and place those keywords toward the beginning of the title (which should be fewer than 70 characters long). Make sure each page title on your site is unique.

  2. Meta Descriptions – This is the description you see in search engine results below the page title. While meta descriptions don’t count toward search engine rankings, they are incredibly useful for people deciding which result to click. For complete visibility, keep the meta description under 150 characters.

  3. Headings – This is text (appropriately coded) that appears more prominently than other text on a page. Searchers and search engines tend to pay more attention to headings in comparison to regular text. That’s why it’s a good idea to include keywords in your headlines whenever possible.

  4. Images – Images on a web page can really enhance user experience, but don’t include too many or it will overwhelm the visitor (and possibly slow down the page load time). Search engines can’t see images, so make sure to include “alt text” in your code to provide text descriptions of the images. Also, include keywords in your image file name to draw traffic from image searches.

  5. URL Structure – The uniform resource locator (URL) of a web page is its web address. URL structure has to do with how the text in a URL is organized and how your site’s different URLs interact with one another. Make sure to separate your keywords with dashes and describe what is on the page. For example, on my site captures “marketing” and “resources” as keywords, and describes what’s on the page. One other thing to include that’s a bit technical but really important: 301 redirects. Sort of like a change of address card, a 301 redirect forwards an old URL to a new one. Make sure to use 301 directs if you change the URL of a page on your site.

  6. Mobile – While the topic of mobile marketing gets a lot of discussion in marketing circles, here’s the most important thing to remember: Optimize your website for mobile viewing. More than half of all Internet searches are now on mobile devices. That’s why responsive design has become so important. Responsive design uses the same URL and HTML code across all devices: desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The site then adapts to whatever screen the site is being viewed on. And even more important, Google prefers responsive design sites. And so do humans.

New Call-to-action

photo credit: heipei via photopin cc

6 Things Your Website Still Must Have To Get Found Online

LinkedIn Sales Activities You Can Do in Under An Hour

A Very Cool LinkedIn Sales Infographic from Salesforce you Can Use and Your LinkedIn Sales Plan

In my 1st Linkedin Sales and Branding book I stated that it is not the exact amount of time you spend on LinkedIn that matters, but how you spend your time and the quality of your network and Groups. Today, I came across a cool blog post from Salesforce Canada on “The Minimalist’s Guide to Sales Prospecting on LinkedIn” and was glad to see other writers and LinkedIn users think the same way. You can grab the infographic they created at the end of this blog post.

I know, by trial and error and over 10 years of solid experience as a LinkedIn premium Sales member and coach that there are many ways you can waste time on LinkedIn without actually selling. This is the biggest problem that LinkedIn members come to me with and are generally at the point, when they want to leave LinkedIn. Then they find me and I turn them around. Seriously. It is true. Just ask outsourced CFO for growing B2B companies, Badria Jabali. After coaching her on the phone, she said, “Jasmine, before I met you I was about to say goodbye to LinkedIn. Now I have renewed faith. Thank you.” There are countless others of business professionals on LinkedIn who have struggled to find an ROI to the $59.99/month they pay for their Sales Premium accounts.

It isn’t about LinkedIn networking for the sake of networking or growing a following as it may seem on Twitter. It is really about the quality of your networks and Groups and most importantly, about following a custom LinkedIn Daily Sales Plan. How can you spend minimal time on LinkedIn and get the highest ROI from your Premium Subscription monthly payments? Once you do have a content marketing plan for LinkedIn and an action guide, you will know with what to post and how to post. Further, you will have identified influencers in your network with whom you can share your latest LinkedIn posts and articles. Time spent wisely on LinkedIn includes:

  • Time connecting with members of Groups that are directly aligned with your Sales Plan. If you do not have a Sales Plan for your personal brand, you may benefit from Sales Training. In these connections, it is about making proper, personalized introductions where you are adding value. It is about not wasting someone else’s time. It is about getting to the point. It is about support other Group members’ original Discussions , Promotions and Job Posts.

  • Carefully writing and editing an article for the LinkedIn Writing Platform. Try one a week. If that doesnt work, try one very two weeks. If you need help writing, my Content Writing team can help. We have ghost written for hundreds of business professionals on LinkedIn. Writing a great post may take more than an hour. Quality counts. If you are great at writing or have great knowledge and work with a writer, this is an excellent way to build up your selling visibility via personal branding on LinkedIn.

  • Spending time in the morning congratulating people in your network for new business moves, promotions and then actually reaching out to them to arrange a call to catch up.

  • Posting relevant content to your connections, the public, twitter and your Groups based on a specific sales plan.

  • Reading and providing supportive comments to posts by others in your network. The same goes for sharing of that content.

  • Identifying opportunities for you to introduce people in your network to each other. Becoming a resource on LinkedIn is an important thing when it comes to becoming a valued salesperson.

I found the piece and infographic created by Salesforce Canada to be helpful in supporting having a proper plan and proper usage of LinkedIn as the #1 B2B Sales Social Networking tool. Check it out:

Click To Enlarge

How to Increase Productivity

Via Salesforce

LinkedIn Sales Activities You Can Do in Under An Hour

The 10 Key Pieces of a High Quality Website

Is a High Quality Website Important?

Think you’ve got what it takes to design a terrific-looking website, but your words just don’t seem to cut it? Fortunately, creating great content for a website is not that difficult, as long as you stick to some basic principles with your writing. The little details are what really makes a high quality website from a lackluster one, and these 10 small details can, when properly incorporated into your page, make all the difference between a ho-hum web page and a stunning page that keeps visitors coming back for more.

1. Content Length

Did you know that the top ranking sites on Google have at least 900 words of content per page? If you didn’t, you might be focusing on shorter pages rather than optimized pages with the content readers crave. Focus on developing longer content, according to these guidelines:

  • Sites with more words in the copy will rank higher in search engine results pages

  • The ideal blog post length, from an SEO perspective, is around 2,000 to 2,450 words long

  • The ideal blog post length from the reader’s perspective, though, is 1,600 words long

2. Content Relevance and Context

SEO used to focus on keywords, but Google is getting smarter. In fact, the search engine can actually understand the meaning of words and how they are related to one another, so you should focus on developing content for your readers NOT google. Google’s search engine analyzes topics and context, not just keywords, and with every new algorithm gets closer to focusing primarily on the context and relevance of your page.

3. Grammar & Spelling

If you think grammar and spelling are unimportant, you’re wrong. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are all known to penalize pages in search engine rankings for grammar and spelling mistakes. Beyond that, though, poor grammar and spelling discredits you in the eyes of your customer, while flawless copy makes you look more professional. Make sure you read your copy at least twice before you publish it, and consider hiring an editor to proofread and edit your posts.

4. Formatting

According to Nielsen, you can expect around 80% of your users to just scan your web page, so how you format your page is extremely important. You can see an example on my WordPress Support page.

  • Use H1/H2 tags to format your headings using related keywords

  • Make use of number lists and bullet points to break down your content

  • Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.

  • Use bold and italics to highlight important parts.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 3.37.08 PM

5. Readability

Readability is how easy your text is to read and understand. The highest ranking web pages are easier to read, so make sure to use the Flesch reading ease formula to figure out how easy your text is to read. To help you along, here are a few tips:

  • Use shorter sentences and paragraphs

  • Use the active verb form at all times, avoiding passive verbs.

  • Remove clutter and unnecessary words

  • Limit the use of adverbs and adjectives

6. Images & Video

Including an image or video for each new chapter of your post will help your page rank higher in search engines. This is because blog posts with images and videos are more engaging for visitors, and the top ranked web sites have an average of 7 images. Remember, though, that an image has to be at least 32 pixels by 32 pixels to count!

7. Expertise

Do you know how I increased sales by 185%? I did this by using case studies, which provided expertise to my posts. People want to read posts by experts who can delve deep into a topic and explain it, so make sure your posts are well-researched and detailed.

8. Social Media Shares

If you want to really boost your indexation time and search results, utilize social media. In fact, content that gets extensively tweeted about can be indexed in 50% less time than content that isn’t tweeted about. The more social media shares you have, the higher your search engine ranking will be. Make sure you have social media buttons on all of your pages, and include a call-to-action for people to share your content.

social media shares

9. Google Internal/External Links

Make sure you link to related articles within your own site. You should know that 9 out of 10 sites ranked at first place in SERPS have at least one link to a related page within the same site. Make sure it’s related content, though, or you might find yourself penalized by Google in the search engine rankings.

10. High Quality Comments

Finally, encourage comments on your posts! High quality comments can generate even more search traffic, and they engage your reader with the content. Be sure to properly moderate your comments, though, because spammy unrelated comments can hurt your ranking and make you look bad in the eyes of your readers.

By following these 10 key principles, you can make your web site even more effective than it already is. Your stellar layout and design are only a portion of a high quality website and what makes people keep coming back to your site—following these guidelines about your content is really important as well, nowadays. Comment below with any additional ideas or questions.

The 10 Key Pieces of a High Quality Website

5 Quick Remedies For a Dull Corporate Website

It’s without a doubt that Fairmont’s corporate website could definitely afford a few changes. Let’s take a look at how a corporate website should embody a company’s brand strategy by delving into one of the most iconic hotel chains in the world.

If you’ve ever been to a Fairmont location just about anywhere in the world, you’ll know that it is an incredible experience beyond comparison. From the Banff Springs resort in Alberta to their newest beachside resort in Dubai, this iconic Canadian chain always guarantees a one-of-a-kind historic experience that comes with the highest standards in customer service.

So, why is it that the Fairmont website does not capture this momentous experience online?


The Rundown

Fairmont is a global corporation with hundreds of unique locations, yet somehow its website squishes every property into a single corporate template. The problem? Your online presence should be a direct reflection of the offline brand activity and personality; None of which are evident on this website. Low resolution stock images, Times New Roman typography and grey borders are all signs that the website has been neglected and left to fend for itself.

The Remedy

There is no quick fix to repairing a dull corporate website, but we most certainly have some pointers worth looking into:

A New CMS - A robust foundation is the first step to a scalable website. In this case, Vordik can 100% recommend implementing a flexible yet powerful content management system such as WordPress VIP, Drupal or Squiz. We’ve already discussed the many benefits of WordPress but, in a nutshell, one of these great CMS options can help maintain consistency and centralized control while giving each location the ability to express a unique personality.

Colours that Pop – It has come to light that vibrant user experiences with bold and clear colour palettes are the most efficient in user engagement. The current colours throughout the site consist of a dull marshy green, a washed out grey and a pale white. By contrast, Fairmont’s corporate colours are a beautiful palette of black, white and gold. As web designers, our minds are afloat with UX inspiration along with some gorgeous ideas that could breath life into the brand online.


Maybe not this glittery, but the idea is to introduce fresh new colours

A Unique Font - In an age where copy and content rule the internet, typography is one of the most important elements of good web design. Sticking to basics such as Arial, or something gaudy like – God forbid – Comic Sans, is way more noticeable to the untrained eye than it used to be. Trying something new on for size could lead to a font so distinct that it’s recognizably yours. Write any word in one of the three fonts below and we’re willing to bet people will recognize it in a flash.

A Touch of Lifestyle – The Fairmont Hotel chain has such a loyal following that some travellers will do a full national or even international tour at only Fairmont properties. That kind of brand power can’t possibly go un-leveraged! The opportunity to incorporate fresh lifestyle content such as real Fairmont guest stories is incredible.

A Clear Call to Action – It’s pretty clear by looking at the homepage of the Royal York corporate website what they want you to do- check availability and book in. To be honest, we’ll actually have to give them credit on this one. That being said, there are a variety of UI/UX best practices that are missing. CTA’s should be easy to spot, but shouldn’t distract from the rest of the content. Furthermore, they should naturally blend in with the overall colour scheme and layout. Have a look at Hubspot’s best practice guide and you’ll be able to spot the difference between a strong CTA and a weak one.

The Takeaway

Humans are visual creatures – we like design, we’re blown away by beautiful photography and colours that are easy on the eyes still make a lasting impact. Ironically enough, sometimes simple design is the most difficult to achieve – yet the most powerful to function. Last week we talked about having the right elements to give your users the experience they deserve, and part of that is having a web design that inspires your target audience and compels them to engage. So, take it from us – treat your website like royalty (pun intended), and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards.

5 Quick Remedies For a Dull Corporate Website

Why Every Company Needs Business Process Management

In order to become and remain successful and competitive, businesses must continuously improve their processes. Failure to do so is likely to result in higher costs, lower revenues, less motivated employees and fewer satisfied customers.

Business Process Management (BPM) is a powerful tool businesses can use to keep all aspects of operations running optimally. For those considering investing in it to drive process improvement, here’s a brief overview of why your company needs business process management.

What is BPM?

Gartner defines Business Process Management as “a discipline that improves enterprise performance by driving operational excellence and business agility.” Think of a business as an engine and BPM as a tool to fine-tune every component of that engine in order to achieve maximum performance and you’ve got the idea.

What does BPM do?

Within every organization there are common business processes designed to meet objectives. However, for any number of reasons some of these processes may be slow, inefficient, unreliable, duplicative and redundant. A BPM puts all of these processes under fresh scrutiny, using models, metrics and analysis to make evaluations and identify needed improvements that will produce better performance. When implementing new processes businesses can use BPM to make sure those processes integrate smoothly and perform properly.

As Gartner puts it, “BPM brings attention to the highest-value processes — the ones that are most aligned with the business goals and strategy — for the best return on investment.”

What are the main benefits of BPM for companies?

Simply stated, a BPM program enables companies to process more with higher quality, less waste and less effort. This is particularly advantageous for startups and other companies faced with tight budgets that need to reach profitability quickly.

The specific benefits of BPM for companies fall into three main categories:

1. Efficiency – One of the first benefits companies often see upon implementing a BPM program is increased efficiency. After all, many processes are often fraught with waste due to a number of factors such as manual effort, poor interdepartmental handoff and a general inability to effectively monitor overall progress. Shedding a fresh light on processes helps companies recognize and eliminate inefficiencies to the benefit of the bottom-line.

2. Effectiveness – Once a process becomes more efficient, BPM can then be used to make that process more effective. Among the many benefits of greater process effectiveness are the ability to handle exceptions faster and better, the ability to make better, more informed decisions, and the ability to execute consistently, which is critical for providing a better customer experience. When all processes are running effectively and are aligned with corporate strategies and objectives, companies become more profitable and more competitive.

3. Agility – In today’s ultra-competitive business world the need for a company to be agile is more critical than ever before. In fact, companies whose processes are inflexible to change are going to get left behind. The need to change can come from almost anywhere, both inside and outside of an organization. New opportunities may necessitate change in order to capitalize on them. New business partners or customers may require change in order to accommodate a different way of doing business. And don’t forget State, Federal and International regulations that may require a company to change its processes.

Thanks to Business Process Management programs, companies have the platform they need to change their existing processes or implement new ones faster, smoother, and more efficiently than they could ever do with any other option. This ability to stay flexible and quickly adapt in the face of changes both foreseen and unexpected is a powerful driver of competitive advantage for every company.

Why Every Company Needs Business Process Management

A (Happy) Marriage of Convenience

RET-1013-LThe idea behind mobile marketing is to make things more convenient for customers by treating them as the individuals they are. Who better to illustrate that than 7-Eleven, the company that refined and redefined the concept of the “convenience” store? 7-Eleven, for those of you who don’t know, started out in the ice business in Texas after the Great Depression, and they’ve done some pretty cool things ever since, from Slurpee® to the Big Gulp® drinks. Today, they’re the world’s largest convenience retailer, with 55,000 stores in 16 countries—including more than 7,800 stores here in the U.S.

Despite the huge volume of business that 7-Eleven does on a global scale—more than 55 (this is globally, in the U.S. it is 7 million) million transactions per day —the company has always respected the importance of the individual and particularly the individual’s time. Each store is geared to local tastes and trends, with the goal of providing customers with their neighborhood store experience.

Until recently, 7-Eleven knew a ton about products and purchases, but relatively little about the people making them. So when the time came to create a data-driven loyalty program, 7-Eleven sought to make more than a data connection between products and people. They wanted to make a personal connection, beginning with that most personal of devices, the smartphone.

As 7-Eleven sees it, they want to “build convenience on top of convenience.” In other words, build on the speed and convenience of the 7-Eleven store experience by creating a Digital Customer Experience that would enhance that convenience through individualized content and personalized offers. This is something that every business should strive for: to make the customer experience as personal and inspiring as possible.

7-Eleven worked with Teradata and Brierley+Partners to build a real-time customer relationship management (CRM) solution that leverages all of their rich, transactional data and blends it with customer segmentation (i.e., Who are you?) and localization (i.e., Where are you?) to create a mobile app that is the very model of convenience. Through the app, for example, customers can immediately find the information that most interests them, whether it’s new movies on Redbox, where to exchange a propane tank, or which local events are happening that week.

Of course, the app also provides targeted mobile-marketing messages; but in this case, it happens in real time through Teradata’s Real-Time Interaction Manager (RTIM) software. So, customers get relevant offers, based on individualized insights, right when they matter most. Importantly, 7-Eleven conceived the mobile app as part of a broader multichannel experience—dubbed the Digital Customer Experience—managed through Brierley LoyaltyWare™ technology. Customers get the same convenient experience in the store on their smartphone and at home on their computer.

The really interesting piece in all of this is the aspect of localization. 7-Eleven is using location to drive relevant offers in ways that many businesses have imagined but few put into practice. For example, on cold days the app will entice customers with the offer of a hot cup of coffee and a danish. On a hot day, the offer might be a cool drink and a refreshing piece of fruit. Or it could take customers out of their usual comfort zone by offering them a free salad or other healthy alternative.

The addition of customer-centric analytics will also help shape the way individual store owners stock their shelves. Most 7-Eleven store owners ultimately decide the product mix for their store. The new real-time analytics system will help them ensure they have the right stock on the shelves at the right time.

Kudos to 7-Eleven for finding a way to put even more convenience into the notion of a convenience store—all by knowing and inspiring their customers.

A (Happy) Marriage of Convenience

5 Tips to Finding Your Business Niche

If you are ready to be your own boss and claim your status as entrepreneur, finding the right niche can make a huge difference in running a business that is successful from one that is a flop. One example of a successful niche is Zumiez, who made themselves known in the surfing and boarding community. This company marketed their products to a predominantly young group of consumers, and along with having retail locations, created a website that sells their products. Having a niche is a critical component for any successful business in order to leverage your company to a targeted audience, standing out among other competing companies.

Need a little help finding your business niche? Below are 5 tips to get you started.

1. Know Your Passion

The first step in coming up with the perfect niche is making a list of what you are passionate about. What ideas would make you excited to go to work every day? If you are passionate about your business, you will more likely to put all of your time and energy into it. You will put more hours into your business and effort into your website, store, or office, making it a success. However, if you are doing something you don’t love, you’re not going to nurture and grow your business very well. Find out what you love to do and what problem you want to be the one to have a solution in order to become a success in your niche.

2. Do Your Market Research

Marketing research is done with every business in order to determine who the target demographic is, what problems your target audience needs a solution for, and a better understanding of what they value in a company, product or service. Before jumping into any business, you need to understand who you will be selling your products or services to, which is where marketing research comes in. If you have time, you can conduct the research yourself online or through government agencies. Otherwise, you can hire a marketing research firm to do all of this legwork for you.

3. Don’t Try to Please Everyone

The biggest mistake you can make when deciding what your niche will be is trying to be a master of everything instead of specializing in a certain area. For example, if you are promote yourself as a general plumber instead of specializing in one area, you will be advertising your business among a large amount of competing companies instead of standing out in one specialized area. Having an area that you are an expert in will set you apart from the competitors and will attract a more targeted audience for better results.

4. Know Who Your Competitors Are

Make a list of all your competitors to get an idea of how competitive the industry is. Once this list has been made, determine what it is that sets you apart from the competition. Do you provide a service, feature or product that can’t be found with the ‘other guy’? How do your prices differ? If you have something that your customers won’t find with any other company, make sure they know it.

5. Determine the Profitability of the Niche

After following the previous 4 tips, you probably have a ballpark idea of what niche you would like to market your business in. Once you have a niche idea, it’s time to determine how profitable it is. If the niche has little to no competition, there could be a reason for it. Make sure the time and money invested into it is worthwhile before deciding to market yourself as an expert in that specified area.

Trade shows, social media, and word-of-mouth are all effective ways to get your company’s niche into the minds of your target audience. These tips will help you come up with the perfect niche for your business.

5 Tips to Finding Your Business Niche

How to Plan for a Successful CRM Implementation


You’ve taken the first step toward success by investing in a CRM, however now it’s time to implement it. We understand that this is not always an easy feat, which is why we put together some suggestions for how to easily tackle your CRM implementation.

Melissa Beyer, GreenRope’s Onboarding Specialist, gave us the following tips for how to prepare:

1. Take your time.

We understand that you made the payment and want to get started ASAP, however CRM implementation does not happen overnight. It is a process, and one that takes some thinking. The key is to organize yourself and your team, so that you can ALL start implementing the system as a cohesive team. It does not need to be a drawn out process, but it should not be something you just jump right into without brainstorming. You must have a strategy and process in place before you begin the implementation.

2. Create a business process road map.

If you do not already have a business road map, now is the time to create one.

Some things to think about:

  • Where do you get your leads from?

  • What do you want your follow up and lead nurturing to consist of?

  • How do you convert a prospect to a client?

  • What happens when they become a client?

Establishing a business roadmap allows you to translate your process into a CRM and marketing automation platform more effectively. Just like a roadtrip, if is important to know the journey before you get lost on the roads (if you plan on staying organized and getting to your destination on time).

Hint: This directly relates to tip #1. Take your time.

3. Don’t learn everything at once.

Attempting to learn everything about your new system in one day results in you and your team being overwhelmed. With any new system, there is going to be a learning curve, and you are going to have to accept that. Tackle the system in fragments and build your strategy around which processes are most important to you. You should know where you want to end up (cough, #2), but do not try and do it all at once. Successful implementation takes baby steps, not giant leaps. You have to make sure that you set a strong foundation and build upon that if you want it to work for you and your team.

How to Plan for a Successful CRM Implementation

Market Your Blog with Social Media in Three Easy Steps

How you can leverage social networking sites to kickstart your blog’s promotion efforts

Social media platformsNo matter how engaging the content, you won’t build a following if no one knows about your blog. If you’re like many new bloggers, you don’t have a marketing budget to speak of. Luckily, social media is a completely free means of promoting your blog.

Today’s most popular social networking platforms each have hundreds of millions of active users who troll the social web to connect with others, seek and share information, express opinions, and be entertained. Get in on the action and show them what you’ve got with these simple steps.

  1. If you don’t have them already, set up accounts on the most popular social media platforms, creating Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ profiles. If you’re already well established on these sites, you might also consider adding Tumblr, Pinterest, or Instagram, depending on your readership and content. When creating your profiles on these sites, be sure to link back to and reference your blog. The goal is to ensure everyone you come in contact with on the social web is aware of and has easy access to your blog.

    How to use social media to promote your blog.

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  2. Add social media widgets and/or links to those social media accounts to your blog and your email signature. Add a Facebook Like button, a Tweet button and a Google +1 button on all your blog posts, like the ones we have at the top and bottom of our own posts. Add social media Share buttons like the ones on this blog post from AddThis so readers can share your blog posts with others. You can also place social icons and your profile addresses on your business cards and any other literature you distribute. If you’re active on forums, web rings, and chat rooms, include them in your signature there as well. Ditto when you comment on others’ blogs (which you should do, as often as possible!)

  3. Use automatic sharing features to post links to your blog on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Many social media platforms offer features that allow for automatic sharing. External, third-party applications such as Buffer and the WP to Buffer WordPress plug-in, Zapier, TweetDeck, and are also great options that offer automation features to post across your online profiles to save time and simplify your social media marketing efforts.

Remember that every time you participate in a conversation, post a comment, or tell the world what’s on your mind on Facebook or Twitter, those words and ideas should ultimately link back to your blog. When you’re online, you’re always representing your brand. (You’ll want to consider this carefully before posting anything.) And take some care to ensure that your comments are relevant, timely, and appropriate, especially when you’re adding a link to your blog as your signature. Otherwise, your post may be ignored as unwanted spam.

Blog orangeWhile there are a variety of ways to enrich and enhance your readers’ experience with social media, and plenty of more advanced methods for driving traffic to your blog, the steps above are among the first and most important you can take in order to begin leveraging social media to boost your blog’s readership. By using applications that automate your social media activity and posting your blog’s web address on your social media profiles (and vice versa) you’ll ultimately create a system that consistently puts your blog and its content in front of hundreds of potential followers who want what you have to offer.

Let us know how you promote your blog in the comments below.

Market Your Blog with Social Media in Three Easy Steps

Job Search Success is a Matter of Attitude

Jobless man

Does looking for work fill you with dread, despair, and anxiety?

Or do you view it as something exciting, something hopeful, something inherently optimistic?

If we’re really being honest with ourselves, most of us would probably fall into the former category. The job search isn’t something that energizes us. It’s something that leaves us drained. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe our attitude about the job search is precisely what keeps us from being more successful at it.

The Power of Positive Thinking

A recent article from Psych Central makes the case. According to the article, new research suggests that “those who can look at the process as a self-growth opportunity will have more success finding their dream jobs.” Those who go into the job search process not with pessimism or despair but with the eagerness to learn new things and seize new opportunities ultimately find satisfying career opportunities much sooner than those who do not.

Or, as one of the researchers summarizes it: “Attitude means a lot.”

Setting the Right Goals

This points back to something the Grammar Chic team has said before—that setting goals is a critical part of the job search process. Of course, all jobseekers have the one goal—to find employment—but if that’s all you’re aiming for, you may become dispirited when it does not happen as quickly as you’d like it to.

Alternatively, those who set more manageable benchmarks—to meet five new employers this week, to send out 20 targeted resumes, or simply to learn something every day—will be able to accomplish more, and ultimately feel more hopeful and energized by their progress. That attitude is what can carry jobseekers toward success in their ultimate goal of career progress.

Honing Your Skills

Something else to note: Seeking employment is a skill—and the more you practice it, the better at it you become. This is especially true if you’re actively invested in the learning process. By viewing each day as an opportunity to learn something new, you can actually grow more confident and more savvy in how you reach out to employers.

So make today the day you start thinking about the job search as an opportunity—not a fool’s errand, not a necessary evil, not a chore. Get a new resume to give you confidence, and then start reaching toward your goals.

Job Search Success is a Matter of Attitude

The Evolution of Social Media Marketing “Success”


Defining “success” on social media isn’t easy for brands. It’s often an early step in an increasingly complex customer journey, and there’s heaps and heaps of data. Given that, many marketing departments feel overwhelmed by the data and don’t know what to do with it, so they end up relying on the easy metrics to pick out to define social marketing success. For example, Facebook makes the number of page likes very obvious and Twitter puts the follower count front and center. As a result, marketers lack true, actionable insights from social and the channel ends up being less effective than it should be.

For brands to participate on social media, it requires an investment. It takes time and energy, and increasingly, it takes a monetary investment. We’ve been big preachers of social marketers proving their value and their success in terms of ROI, but for so long, the “experts” of social media have played fast and loose with what ROI means for social.

In this post, we’ll explore the evolution of what that “R” means when it comes to social media.

Stage I: Views

In 2007, Facebook finally let organizations create brand pages. It was touted, essentially, as free marketing access to Facebook’s growing audience of highly desirable young adults. For brands, just reaching that audience and getting a message in front of them was “success”. In the ROI equation, with a very little “I”, the “R” didn’t have to be very substantial from a business goal perspective.

Stage II: Engagement

As the social networks continued to grow and mature, social marketers also became more sophisticated. Brands realized how powerful social marketing could be and began investing in bigger teams and more thought-out social strategies.

The power of the network was a massive attribute of the channel that marketers had to capitalize on, but perhaps more importantly, for the first time, customers could make an impact by communicating back. The two-way communication created a big opportunity, but also had a lot of risk.

Sure, before social media customers could call customer service and make a complaint, or make a scene in a store, but with social media, their complaints could be seen by their peers and other customers of the brand, creating a much larger impact. Brands reacted and started to use social media as a major customer service channel — putting out fires, engaging with customers, and learning about their wants and needs.

At this stage, sentiment analysis and social listening became really important. Brands wanted to make sure that complaints were taken care of, and social marketers were tasked with creating positive engagement: likes, favorites, follows, and positive comments.

Stage III: Conversions

Over the last year or two, Facebook’s algorithm has become more important than ever. Due to the massive amount of content that people are sharing, as well as pressure on Facebook to generate revenue, the news feed algorithm has squeezed down hard on brands’ organic posts. And it’s not just Facebook. Twitter, too, has seen an increase in content, resulting in clogged feeds, and some sort of feed algorithm is expected this year. As a result, it’s practically a requirement for brands to have some paid social component. And with any serious paid component, managers and executives want to see a real ROI. The value of a “like” or “favorite” or even a follower on social is highly debatable, and for most businesses, won’t cut it as a business metric. They want conversions and proof that their investment in social media marketing is creating revenue.

Just this week — while I was writing this post — Facebook basically announced that clicks don’t matter, conversions and sales do. It’s the next step in social marketing success. Now that the actual ends (sales) can be accurately measured, the less predictive indicators (likes, impressions, etc.) aren’t as important.

Social media was always on this course. It was only a matter of time for the technology of the social platforms to mature and for social marketers to become comfortable and well-versed with the relatively new channel.

Brands that measure their social success with likes and follows will struggle to make a real impact in their organization. On the other hand, those that realize that social can move the business needle, and evolve their social measurement accordingly, will see success.

For more content on social marketing and how to drive conversions from social, subscribe to the blog by entering your email at the top of the page!

The Evolution of Social Media Marketing “Success”

4 Tips for Building Connections with the Press

It can often seem stressful and complicated to bring positive press into your business, especially if you don’t already have the resources to get in contact with journalists. Large marketing firms and public relations agencies often have subscriptions to software like Cision, which is a constantly growing database of journalists. Or, they have access to their own personal connections, built and founded over years of working experience. Neither option is really practical for any new or small-to-medium business, so it becomes up to you to forge your own network of journalists.

Building Connections with the Press To get started on your own contact list, here are some tips for building the best possible relationship with any local or international journalists:

  • Participate online. One of the simplest and easiest ways to begin report with journalists is by keeping up with them through social media. This is ideal in particular for Twitter, where businesses, journalists, and consumers all operate simultaneously. Do some research into the local reporters in your area and see if you can find their corresponding Twitter accounts to follow. Interacting through social media is a more relaxed way of getting your business some attention without seeming pushy.

  • Sign up for HaRO. Also known as “Help a Reporter Out” this is a newsletter—and a Twitter account!—from reporters who are looking for quotes, sound bites or interviews from people and/or businesses in a specific industry or background. By following this newsletter, you’ll be able to see whenever a journalist is in need, and you’ll be able to align your business as an expert in your field.

  • Keep the press up to date. Whenever your business has created a new product or hit an important milestone, make sure to send out a press release or pitch to let the local reporters know about it! News outlets often like to include a handful of positive local stories, and by keeping them up to date, there’s a better chance your company will get the chance to shine! If you’re not sure how to craft a quality press release, you can read more here.

  • Follow the AP Stylebook. Lastly, get a copy of the Associated Press (Stylebook) or follow them on Twitter—noticing a theme here? The AP Stylebook is considered to be a reporter’s bible, in that it holds all the most important information about editing, formatting and grammar they ever need. Journalists will appreciate you taking the time to follow AP formatting, as they’ll need to spend less time editing your work if they decide to include it.

These are only a few tips to get you started creating connections with journalists, but it will always be any ongoing process.

4 Tips for Building Connections with the Press

Finding Your Industry’s Super Bowl

Every year, without fail, the marketing world gears up for the annual smorgasbord that is the Super Bowl. Ostensibly, the event is about football, competition, the gridiron. But we all know what marketers tune in for—the ads.

It’s the biggest ad day of the year with major brands shelling out millions for 30 seconds—or even a whole minute!—of awareness. There’s been plenty of missives written about the actual value of these ads. (Joe Pulizzi provides a nice list of alternatives for all that dough.) But what I see happen, particularly in B2B marketing, is Super Bowl ad envy.

That envy manifests in two ways.

One, brands who have literally nothing to do with “The Big Game” scramble to find clever ways to associate themselves with the event, usually with disappointing results. The space is just so crowded, it’s nearly impossible to stand out from the field of competitors.

The other form of envy is the handwringing. B2B marketers wish for an opportunity for that kind of exposure, but see none when they work in such a “boring industry.”

There’s no reason to feel envious. Maybe you don’t have millions to spend on a super-sized ad. Perhaps your organization isn’t in a space that lines up well with pigskin. That just means you need to identify and play in your industry’s Super Bowl.

How to Find Your Super Bowl

The secret to figuring out exactly what your industry’s Super Bowl is understanding what really moves your buyers. A lot of this comes from your buyer personas. (If you have them but don’t use them, time to dust them off.) But it also comes from understanding what kinds of events get your buyers excited.

There are a couple ways to nail this down.

First, your can ask your customers. What are the events they plan to attend? What are the dates they mark on the calendar? The answers to these questions vary widely depending on the industry. For someone who works directly in the automotive industry, it might be the SEMA Show. Then again, maybe you serve the real estate market and so RECON is your big event. Or perhaps you sell to the firearms and hunting industry, in which case you plan every year for the the SHOT Show.

The point is that every industry has a big day (or entire week in Vegas). Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

The other place to look is your internal talent. If you sell a product or service, chances are the people designing and developing that product or service are as geeky as your customers. The event that gets them charged up is likely a great place to put resources, time, and attention.

And it’s not always a physical event. For instance, if you develop social media management software, community manager appreciation day might be an annual event you’ll want to target.

Every industry has its big game day. Your Super Bowl is likely to win you wider awareness and better conversations then any effort around the actual Super Bowl. But only if you plan ahead.

Planning for the Pre-Game, Game Day, and Post-Game

Let’s say you find your big event. Is the plan simply to print up some brochures and set up a demo table? Then you should expect a lackluster response.

The big game requires a lot of prep and follow up. You need to draw attendance, be prepared to give a good showing, and then keep the momentum going. This is where marketing content plays a major role.

Let’s take a specific scenario. Imagine you market to the natural products industry. You’ve identified Expo West as your Super Bowl, and you’re one of more than 2,000 vendors trying to impress retailers. It’s not going to be easy to stand out.


You can’t just rely on great booth space and location. You need to create compelling content that drives value to attendees. It could be as simple as a map of the space, a list of great eateries and bars nearby, or a rundown of the exclusive after parties. It could also be as intense as an infographic detailing all the big announcements that have come out of the event in previous years. Whatever creative concept you come up with, you need to get in front of your audience and give them reason to seek out your brand.

Game Day

Then comes game day. If you’re “that natural product,” you need content that leaves a deep impression. Sure, you need the brochure or one-sheet breaking down why you’re healthier than the next booth over. But you also need something that gives the retailer something they want to hold onto. It could be a state of the industry report or even a visual breakdown of how to strategically stock the organic section shelves (a.k.a. a planogram). What’s important is that it pops.


Finally, you need follow up. You’ve collected the business cards and scanned the badges. Well before the expo kicks off, you should have a strategy for how marketing and sales will continue the conversation (be it through email, calls, etc.). That might include assets that explain your product’s selling points in more detail. Likely you’ll want them to be short and sweet, and relate back to the event while it’s still fresh.

Of course, this is just one scenario.—but the concept holds across industries. Marketing needs to think of every big event like a big game, where winning depends on both preparation and execution.

This year, sit back and enjoy the Super Bowl without envy. You don’t need a budget-breaking ad campaign. You simply need to identify your industry’s big event, and plan the right content so you stand in the spotlight.

Finding Your Industry’s Super Bowl

Make Your Enterprise Social Investment A Slam Dunk

Picture your high school basketball court. Conference and sectional titles from years ago hang proudly, even if a little discolored from too many years in the gym. The glossy floor mirrors bright lights that are ready to radiate heat over each passionate player and hysterical fan. The band breathes life into every note; the cheerleaders flail limbs and scream words of motivation.

The first players run out and the next few stumble along. The last few impassionately trudge in. The coaches watch with disapproval and eventually just leave. The competition has already won. Where has the motivation gone? What happened?

On a sports team, personal triumphs are also team wins. Team wins are also celebrations for the entire community. Our sneakers grew holes and our jersey styles phased out years ago. We graduated from participating athletically from the court yet these competitive situations will never really leave our lives. Imagine your business is that losing team. Is it?

Gartner predicts that 80% of social business efforts will not achieve successful results because of poor leadership and too much focus on technology in 2015. Businesses are quick to implement enterprise social networks, yet failure often results more quickly than the decision to buy the software in the first place. Why?

Enterprise Strategies Founder Andy Jankowski most recently led a webinar concerning this phenomenon, focusing on the top five reasons why enterprise social networks fail.

“When we moved to social inside of companies we forgot some things…standalone internal social networks create the very barriers they were designed to remove. We don’t come to work for the relationships. Relationships are the glue of social media. Work objects are the glue of internal social networks.”

But what are work objects and what kind of barriers exist? “Work objects are when two or more people come together to work in the context of fill-in-the-blank” says Andy. Apply this to a team and it becomes clear. You don’t stumble onto the court early mornings to socialize with teammates. Yet the bond between teammates exists because of the hours spent communicating and striving toward a common goal, accomplishing personal wins along the way. Socialization comes in the form of good and practiced communication.

Employees within a company function similarly. Work friendships will arise, yet the unity between coworkers is strengthened by the common work objects within the corporation. The communication between professional teammates is essential to avoid failure.

Enterprise social networks are designed for the socialization experience coworkers, more simply, humans, desire. Executives readily buy into the benefits of implementing one after realizing the social advances it can yield; however, without proper execution, enterprise social networks can quickly fail. In the opening game example the environment was equipped with enough tools for the team to win: a peppy band, limber cheerleaders, a pristine court, and the enthusiastic fans anxious for a win. What went wrong?

Limited Executive Support

Let’s imagine it is your team. Your coaches recruit you to play, yet when you and your eager teammates show up in your shiny matching shoes for practice, the coaches are nowhere to be found. You and your teammates try to run practice by yourselves but end up leaving early unmotivated and disengaged.

No team can achieve greatness without the support of a coach, so how can employees be expected to practice using an enterprise social network without the support of their executives recruiting them to do so? A successful enterprise social network involves executives setting examples through their personal involvement with social, instead of simply funding it. Andy lists four simple steps to take when engaging executives to participate.

1. Conduct a workshop. In the workshop focus on the Ws of social collaboration. What social collaboration is, who will be using it, which companies (or competitors) are using it, and even what terminology to use.

2. Executive mentor with peers. It is important to equip executives with skills necessary to socially collaborate, even if it means teaching them to be digital natives. Address goals for a network in relation to business complexities they understand and enterprise social can solve.

3. Schedule an event. Lack of time is a common problem for executives and general employees alike. If an event to learn and incorporate the education of an enterprise social network is scheduled, it can be easily accomplished.

4. Establish a Community Manager program. For those who are particularly active on the network, creating the position of an ambassador allows someone to connect the dots between employees and also bring executives into the digital conversation.

Lack of Context

Each practice brings a new play, strategy, or drill. Your teammates participate but without the enlightenment of the coaching staff, the purpose is never conveyed and now motivation is fading. Positions are shifted around and no explanation is given, let alone talk of competitors or games to come. Why is change happening and what is its purpose?

In the evolution of technologies, many took time to assimilate into existing business applications. Enterprise social networks can lead to a rough adaptation if the context in which it exist is unclear. The technology is easily purchased, yet difficult to make work. Instead of simple immersion, the evolution of each led to standalone business and social silos. For employees to collaborate socially, it must be understood that business and social can intersect. To counteract this negative progression, it is important to introduce the concept of social collaboration in context of real business problems. Instead of introducing it as another process, make it part of your business process.

No Clear Strategy

You spend practice challenging your body to its athletic potential. Drill after drill is run and the gear is ready to wear. The first game only brings confusion and eventual loss when the players take the court blindly and stumble their way through without a clear strategy. Without the prior coordination and attachment to a plan, the game results in a failure.

Any company has an existing business strategy and accompanying goals. The implementation of an enterprise social network can arrive as a drastic change or extra task for employees to accomplish, yet the successful integration of collaborating socially lies in the strategy. If a strategy is to be effective, it must be executable–meaning it also aligns with business objectives. For social collaboration to be implemented, it must fit into and act as an enhancement of business processes which already exist. As Andy states, “Be Stratactical. Strategy must allow you to accomplish short-term tactical objectives along the way to a long-term goal.”

Lack of Financial Results

Just like MasterCard’s famous Priceless campaign, some things in life cannot be monetarily quantified. Yes the instruments in the pep band came with a price, the cheerleader’s sparkling pom-poms were fundraised with wrapping paper, and every proud mother spent a pretty penny to screen-print their son’s numbers across their backs. Yet the price of a win–or a loss–is something each spectator, coach, or teammate will quantify differently. A set number does not exist.

The success of a businesses–or athletic team–can center around one simple core: money. Tools like enterprise social networks have created the necessity for a more analytical focus, but especially the demand for quantitative results. With the focus of metrics and money, it is easy to get lost in the pursuit of business goals surrounding the improvement of ordinary business objectives. Instead of predicting and depending on the financial results of social collaboration, focus on the small picture. Give reports focusing on the case-by-case basis of improvement in existing business processes. Place financial results in proper perspective. When email first came out, was it able to yield provable financial results? When it comes to bettering communication, don’t try to quantify the unquantifiable.

Unsuccessful Pilot

The sprints are exhausting so you just start walking. Why put effort into practice when you know if the first game fails you won’t have to play anymore? The coaches tell the team that they are simply participating in a trial– if you win, you will continue, but if you lose its all over. The first game you lose and in the post-game meeting, your coaches disband the entire team. It was just a test and it didn’t work they say and you really don’t care.

In a business, the failure of an enterprise social network can often result in an unsuccessful pilot trial. Pilots can be thought of as an option; if it works and the effort is present it will stay, but if it doesn’t then it is on to the next thing. Andy believes that proper implementation of an enterprise social network doesn’t have to involve a pilot. In fact, he warns against one. Pilots that affect one small part of the company cannot project results for the entire company’s business processes. They also exist in addition to an employee’s regular schedule of work projects and obligations, appearing as an extra chore which isn’t given the motivation it deserves. If you have to do a pilot, instead of calling it a pilot, think of it as a phased rollout leading to a global communication campaign. For executive buy-in, gauge the success of the pilot on a positive end-user experience using enterprise social tools. Do not judge global acceptance upon a small group of users.

While we all leave our athletic glory days behind us, successes still happen throughout the rest of our lives. Just like in the game, the implementation of enterprise social networks hold the great chance of a failure– or a company win. Our coaches turn into executives and our teammates our coworkers, yet the same proper strategic communication is necessary in today’s increasingly collaborative workforce. Whether it is the rollout of your enterprise social network’s campaign or even convincing your executives of its worth, the priceless triumphs require the coaching and teamwork of a company’s key players.

Make Your Enterprise Social Investment A Slam Dunk

5 of the Easiest Ways To Double Your Network

There was a study done in the 70’s that involved the best place to sit at a table in order to communicate with as many people as possible. One would assume that this study would also depend on a person’s personality traits — if they were introverts or extroverts or even if the topic of conversation had any relevance to their own interests. However, that wasn’t the case and everyone wasn’t able to communicate equally with each other. The person who was at the head of the table was able to communicate with 9 people, while a person sitting in the middle could only communicate with 8.

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With most of our networking and communication today, we’re all at the head of the table. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the internet as a whole give us the platform to increase the frequency at who we can communicate with at all hours of the day.

But are we using this to our advantage? When was the last time you looked at your network to see if you could expand it to create even more meaningful connections? Now, we can easily double our network and perform outreach in an authentic, relevant way using the platforms we use every day.

5 of the Easiest Ways to Double Your Network

1. Linkedin

LinkedIn has over active 300 million professionals on the network and is prime ground for developing you own professional network. Besides connecting with the people you might know, the other great resource that is often glossed over is the powerful search capabilities LinkedIn has. The basic components are searching by company, location, job title, industry, etc. You also are able to filter to certain results like specific groups, posts, and profile language. I found that searching through specific posts is helpful in engaging in conversations on topics relevant to marketing.

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Another side to LinkedIn to find more people to expand your network is to look where you rank with professionals like you. These are people within the same field as you and around the same number of years of experience. This is a perfect opportunity for you to connect with these people, exchange ideas, and ultimately expand your network. You can get to this section under “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” and at the top right side click “How You Rank For Profile Views.” You are then able to filter by professionals like you or by your workplace.

2. Twitter

Twitter also has a great search engine as well and searching for potential contacts. You can search by hashtag, handle, or general topic to see who is tweeting about that topic. You can then, unless the person has their tweets protected, follow them easily and follow along with what content is relevant to them.

An idea to try is to search for specific articles that others have tweeted out that you have shared as well. If you copy the link of the article you just shared and paste it into the search you can see the others who have shared. You can then see potential people who you can connect with and being the conversation with the perfect starter about the article you just shared.

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3. Your Email Contact Base

Frequently, individual email correspondence isn’t always just between two people. There are people bcc’d, cc’d, forwarding, replying etc. all happen between multitudes of people. However, in our minds in terms of our own contacts and the emails we exchange, we think in very binary terms — our individuals selves and the one other person we message.

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However, as previously mentioned, there are sometimes many other people in those exchanges that could help you cultivate an even bigger network base. With emails, specifically with gmail, as long as you’ve had some contact with that person or one touch point, you can then download all of those contacts directly. You can then take these email addresses and then research to figure out if these are people you should have a closer relationship with. You have their email and it’s easier to find some of their other social contact information.

Most email clients allow for you to download all of your contacts. For example, with Gmail you can download a csv of all of your contacts very quickly.

4. Meetup

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Meetup is network where you can final local events with people who share the same interests as you. There are over 20 million users on Meetup who are ready to meet new people and connect over common interests, which is one of the best places for you to double your network.

Although actually going to events may be really time consuming and you may not maximize your time meeting as many people as possible, however, you still can access the guest list. Many of the people RSVPing for these events attach their social profiles to their Meetup account, allowing you to engage with them on those networks.

5. Warm Introductions

Sometimes the easiest way to expand the size of your own network is to go back to your current network and ask contacts if they know of anyone who to connect with. Maybe some of us are a little gun shy to actually ask, but once we get over that hesitancy we can potentially find a warm introduction to someone new to gain insight from.

Maybe glance at a contact’s network connections on Linkedin, or see who they work with at their company. A little sleuthing might be involved, but you should be able to find the right contacts you would like introductions for.

Another idea is to offer an introduction of your own first Ok, maybe it sounds a little like if I scratch your back, you should scratch mine, but if you’re willing to offer your own introduction the other party may be more willing to provide you an intro.

Networking isn’t something easy to do and I completely admire the people who can do it gracefully and without any inhibitions. But, with a little effort with the networks you already have you can easily double the size of your network in an authentic way.

5 of the Easiest Ways To Double Your Network

Use Your Time Wisely — You Don’t Have As Much Of It As You Think!

3 tips for using the time you have to make the biggest impact

Time is the greatest lever we have to achieve business goals, yet most leaders don’t measure how it’s spent or manage it as scarce capacity. When time is viewed as an infinite resource, it sets up employee engagement challenges and fatigued thinking. This week, give closer attention and intention to how you leverage time with these 3 practices:

1. Recognize time is a finite resource and plan accordingly.
Create a time allocation plan for yourself and your team this morning to use your limited capacity wisely for the next 90 days. Include target percentages for making decisions, motivating people, addressing issues, assessing goal achievement, and engaging customers. As with any budget, ruthlessly prioritize so the time you plan to spend isn’t greater than the time you actually have — if it’s not in the budget, delegate it or drop it.

2. Align time used directly to goal achievement.
Be as systematic aligning time to goal achievement week over week as you are setting goals at the start of the year and measuring performance at the end. Chasing status reactively and consuming time on work that doesn’t contribute to goals waste precious time. Define 1-3 streams of work that support achievement of each goal, and ask your team to do a short weekly report on action item progression by stream. Put the goals and streams into the report template to ensure week over week linkage between the team’s work, everyone’s time and your business goals.

3. Take some time to experience gratitude.
Complement more intentional use of time and better time-goal alignment with 10 minutes a day to identify and acknowledge great work or effort – ideally the 10 minutes before you leave the office. It’s renewing and energizing for you and others. This habit will strengthen your empathy skills and remind others why they’re investing their time to help achieve your business goals!

Put these practices to work this week to increase your productivity and satisfaction; join the conversation on this and other topics to share what works best for you. Until next Monday, have a great week!

Use Your Time Wisely — You Don’t Have As Much Of It As You Think!