This Week’s Must Reads

Hey everyone! As you know, I like to start the week with a good roundup of some of the Reading 16best articles I’ve come across in recent days. I like to look for articles on leadership, marketing, customer relationships, branding, technology, strategy, etc. that will be of interest to business owners and leaders. So, here’s this week’s summary of must-reads:

  • Should companies in mature industries focus on fringe customers (w/ flexible or no loyalties)? bit.ly/2bDP2hg
  • Don’t make these mistakes when bringing your products to market: bit.ly/2bolq8r
  • The secret to better conversations by rebalancing them: on.inc.com/2blbPzf
  • This methodology tries to help you find your most valuable #customers: whr.tn/2bhfcWf
  • When does a startup stop being a startup? for.tn/2bGTdJD
  • How different customer types (utilitarian, emotional, and fanatical) MUST be treated differently: bit.ly/2bgIeFx
  • Premium customer care begins with premium employees: bit.ly/2bNDfKJ
  • Interesting story about how a company used data to relook at their #customers‘ journeys: bit.ly/2c3xhKj
  • Some surprising (but science-backed) ways to improve your decision-making: bit.ly/2bSzkj9
  • A few ideas for fine-tuning your email marketing: bit.ly/2bSi9yh
  • No, your startup may NOT need outside funding. Here’s what you can do instead: entm.ag/2bMwiL7
  • IPO index is up; are investors ready to start taking on more risk? read.bi/2bAJLan
  • Make sure your content has entertainment value: on.inc.com/2bAyYgD
  • Here are some mistakes you might be making with your content marketing: entm.ag/2b9Xyqj
As we close in on the fourth quarter of 2016, I was thinking a lot about how the year will come to a close. Have we reached our goals? Have we lost sight of what our strategic goals for the year even are? Is it possible to end the year on a strong note? Of course! And I shared a few tips along those lines:
  • Get your staff focused on the one primary strategic goal for Q4. The coach doesn’t win on the field, the players do.
  • When planning your strategy for tackling that big Q4 goal, remember to plan around the holidays.
  • Make sure your team clearly knows that top strategic goal you’re targeting for the rest of 2016.
  • Look at your goals for 2016. What is the one biggest goal you haven’t achieved yet? Develop a Q4 plan for achieving it.
  • 2016’s Q4 starts soon. Plan your strategies now for finishing 2016 strong.
 I also wrote my latest blog post about that issue. I argue that you and your company can still end 2016 strongly if you focus on a key unachieved goal in 4Q. I’d love for you to read and react to my last post, “Finishing 2016 Strong” and let me know what you think.
______ . ______
Well guys that’s it for today. Enjoy your reading. Leave a comment on the blog. Be sure to share this post and the blog with your colleagues. Have an awesome Monday and a productive week!
Posted in Business Growth/Strategy, Competition, Culture, Customer Experience/Relationships, Innovation, Leadership/Management, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finishing 2016 Strong

 

Finish LineAs Q4 races toward us (Next week! Yikes!), it’s a good time to step back and look at where we are strategically this year. Most of us still have 2016 goals that we’d like to achieve. It’s not too late. With three months left in the year it’s going to be about highlighting the key goal(s) still left and focus your business on achieving them.

Here’s how I would recommend going about it.

1. Assess where you are.

Be honest. Look back at your key goals (hopefully there were only an important few). Have you met them? Are you making progress toward them? You have to begin by being open and honest about where your company stands.

2. Identify the 4Q top goal – preferably one

Of the goals that are left unachieved, identify the most important one. What is the one goal that will make the most positive impact on your business? A good practice is to do this as a leadership team. You might, as the business’s leader, have an idea about what the main priority should be for the rest of 2016; but really it’s better if you do this as a team. Get everyone on board and in agreement. Look at that goal carefully. Be crystal-clear about how achieving this goal will impact your business. In short, know why this is important to the future of your company.

3. Develop a strategy

Make sure (you should already have this but….) and be clear about how you are going to measure success. It’s critical that you know where you stand and develop a strategy (or a set of strategies) for getting your company from Point A to Point B. Brainstorm with your team. Arrive at a solid strategy that your team is in agreement with.

4. Share it across your organization – and create an execution plan.

Think about how any strategy gets achieved. Is it you the business’s leader. Maybe a little. Is it your leadership team? Yes, they of course play a part. But who makes that day-to-day progress driving toward the goal? It’s the people on the ground. The front-line people. The transaction people. The workers. The delivery people. The receptionists. Just as our workers are the backbone of our economy, they are also the backbone of your individual business. So, let’s not keep them in the dark. Let’s be clear. Let’s get them on board. Let’s get them excited about the goal. Let’s get them focused on this strategy and their place in it. The coach doesn’t win on the field, the players do.

5. Celebrate your success

When you hit that goal, when your Q4 is successful be sure to step back and celebrate what you and your team have achieved. Whether it’s a party, whether it’s bonuses, whatever it is for your business, find a way to acknowledge that the team stayed focused, pulled together, and made a key strategic goal happen.

So, you think 2016 is whizzing by you and your business? Some goals have been nailed. Some are still unmet. Some are in progress. But Q4 is essentially here. You can make it a great quarter for your team. You can identify and knock down the most-impactful goal left to make positive change for your business in 2016. But you need to take some time to get focused on just what that goal is and how you and your team will go about achieving it. Come January you’ll look on Q4 with a big, fat smile on your face. How will that feel?🙂

______ . ______

Make sure you get your company focused on that biggest goal, so you can finish 2016 strongly. Sometimes it also takes some help to get it all done. Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed.  No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas. You can reach me at (713) 907-8429 or BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.com.

I hope you are enjoying these blog posts If so, please help spread the word. Tell others about IDiscover Consulting Group and IDiscover Journal. Share these posts. Comment on them. I’d really love to hear your ideas!

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This Week’s Must Reads

Hello again everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. ups was mostly filled with back-to-school Reading 08stuff. Fun, right? Anyway, as always let’s start the week with a roundup of the best articles for business leaders I came across recently.

Last week I was thinking quite a bit about how our businesses have personalities much like we do personally. And we need to cultivate those personalities proactively and broadly across our various communication channels. Here are a few tips I shared throughout the week:
  • When strategizing about your company’s personality don’t forget those everyday interactions like phone calls, emails.
  • Think about business “personality” as that layer that helps your target audience REALLY know you…if managed well.
  • Define your brand before you tackle social media. Your “voice” there must be consistent with your brand.
  • Some of the best ways to share your business’s personality is to showcase it in social media and content marketing.
  • Every business has some form of a “personality”. Develop a strategy for proactively cultivating yours.
And I extended my thinking a little further in my latest blog post. I hope you read it, tell me what you think, and share it. You can read it here: “Letting Your Business’s Personality Shine Through“.
______ . ______
Well guys that’s it for today. Enjoy your reading. Leave a comment on the blog. Be sure to share this post and the blog with your colleagues. Have an awesome Monday and a productive week!
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Letting Your Business’s Personality Shine Through

Sometimes it’s hard for us to ascribe human characteristics to nonhuman entities likeSun shining through a forest businesses. But, you know, often they do have these characteristics – and it makes sense to think about organizations in this way. One of these traits is “personality” – that set of characteristics that often influence the way we see people. A business also has a set of characteristics that make up it’s “personality” and help define how those outside the organization view it, react to its brand, and interact with it.

An organization’s personality is derived from its foundational core values and mission. The organization’s brand is derived from that foundation – and its personality can be thought of as the way the brand interacts with the world around it. Think about “personality” as that layer that sits between the internal and the external and which helps the outside understand the inside (if managed well). And manage it we should.

 

Think about people you know (those you like and those you don’t). What words do we use when we talk about a person’s personality? They are fun, happy, irresponsible, morose, hardworking, trusting, trustworthy, loyal, humble, difficult, adventurous, boring, flaky, social, unsocial, funny, witty – and the list can go on and on.

Now consider companies and organizations you like (or don’t) – Apple, the IRS, McDonald’s, Shake Shack, BMW, Ford, Home Depot, a local restaurant, a small retailer in your neighborhood. Every one of them has some form of a personality. And I’ll bet within 60 seconds you can list at least ten adjectives to describe it.

Now let’s flip the exercise around. You are a business leader. What would be the ten adjectives you’d like your most important target customers and prospects to list? And (be honest) are they the ones you think they will list? Why or why not? Are you doing anything proactively to manage their perceptions? (Now this is getting a little deeper isn’t it?)

Managing your business’s personality can make a BIG difference in your success. It just makes sense, right? We strive to be around people we like, people we affiliate with, people we respect and whose values we understand, people we feel like we know. In a lot of ways businesses are no different. Consumers look for ways to interact with organizations that meet their needs and have an engaging personality. So, what steps can you take to create and cultivate your business’s personality?

  1. Develop an authentic voice – base it in your core values and your brand definition. This should include a carefully-designed target audience – and their­
  2. Consider all the ways you interact (or can interact) with your audience – marketing, content, website, social media, in-person, via telephone, etc.
  3. For each type of interaction think about how you can shape your personality in the minds of your audience. A well thought out editorial calendar helps. And assign individuals responsibility for each piece. And don’t forget those everyday interactions we seem to take for granted – calls on the phone, emails, the tone of our website, and others.
  4. Spread the word. Make sure your team understands what you are trying to create – and how. Put a set of guidelines in place.
  5. Periodically step back and reevaluate how this is going. Include measuring how your target audience perceives your organization. Make adjustments as needed.

Go though the process and see how those audience/prospect/customer adjectives change. Like most important, strategic shifts it won’t happen overnight. But keep at it. Stay focused on that personality and the “voice” you use to communicate. 

______ . ______

Being a business’s leader is never easy. Creating a vision takes creativity. Sharing that vision takes guts. Sometimes it also takes some help. Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed.  No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas. You can reach me at (713) 907-8429 or BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.com.

I hope you are enjoying these blog posts If so, please help spread the word. Tell others about IDiscover Consulting Group and IDiscover Journal. Share these posts. Comment on them. I’d really love to hear your ideas!

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This Week’s Must Reads

Good morning everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend. We sure did here. We celebrated my oldestReading 28 daughter’s confirmation at church and got to visit with family. Very nice!

Well, as I always like to do, let’s start this week with some of the best articles from the last week or so – and, yes, some tips and insights from me as well. Enjoy! 

  • Some of the more-common crises your company might face – and how to deal with them: bit.ly/2bmdUc5
  • Thinking about using Facebook ads? Here’s an awesome guide to tackling them:bit.ly/2bcXqkU
  • Here are some avoidable mistakes that might be hurting your email marketing:bit.ly/2bcWo8I
  • When your startup gets bought by a big co. get ready for some BIG changes:bit.ly/2aOTbuD
  • Wendy’s CEO: election weighing on consumer sentiment. His follow-up argument more likely: read.bi/2b8rjWE
  • Do companies lean toward CEO candidates with stronger interpersonal skills (vs. qualifications)? bit.ly/2b1MUhV
  • New leaders should have 30-60-and-90 day plans to create results: bit.ly/2b6s6aF
  • As a leader, you need to develop an “outward” mindset (seeing others goals, needs, etc. matter): bit.ly/2aVDlSD
  • The secret to customer relationships may be to “have them be “infatuated” – over and over again: bit.ly/2aGnP9S
  • Shake Shack sales results miss badly. A company brand extension strategy gone wrong? read.bi/2aNC27V
  • Motivating stories, values, codes of conduct are critical to a customer-centric culture: bit.ly/2aSta1l
  • Should YOUR company be using value-based #pricing? Are you leaving money on the table? bit.ly/2b6oNQI
  • Why the BEST employees quit (even when they like their jobs):on.inc.com/2b3H3qQ
  • The keys to building customer and sales prospect trust: entm.ag/2aIXCKw
  • When building your email list, here are some good ways to welcome your new subscribers: bit.ly/2aOQgWx
  • Here’s what the predictors of the future of user experience are getting wrong:bit.ly/2aCFzD6
  • My friend and respecte colleague at Resonance Content has written a new book on how to win at content marketing – and it’s ready for pre-order! Be sure to check it out! bit.ly/2b8DvH1’s
  • Some ways to look at the decision about whether your next hire should be an employee or a contractor: bit.ly/2b8Bsmk
  • Wal-Mart confirms $3 bilion purchase of Jet.com. Feels very dot-com-era-like to me:bit.ly/2aGqIgz

Last week I was thinking quite a bit about the things that hold our companies back; the things that limit the growth of our companies. I shared a few tips I shared on social media:

  • Take a step back and identify which factors are limiting the growth of your business.
  • Be honest.  Is your mindset about what’s POSSIBLE (or been done before) limiting the growth of your business?
  • A good way to kick-start business growth is to leverage existing customer relationships.
  • Consider what changes you would make to help your business grow if you had unlimited resources.
  • Identify ways YOU as the leader might be getting in the way of your business’s growth…and make changes.

And in my latest blog post, I dug a little deeper into one of the key behaviors that might be holding your company back – your mindset, your lack of a bold vision. I’d love for you to read “Is Your Lack of Vision Holding Your Company Back?” and let me know your thoughts.

______ . ______
Well guys that’s it for today. Enjoy your reading. Leave a comment on the blog. Be sure to share this post and the blog with your colleagues. Have an awesome Monday!
Posted in Business Growth/Strategy, Customer Experience/Relationships, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Branding, Small Business, Summaries | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your Lack of Vision Holding Your Company Back?

Your business’s growth may have stalled or just may not be growing as fast as you might Roger Bannisterlike. It’s natural to ask why? As the business’s leader you want to know what’s getting in the way. What’s limiting (or even blocking) your business’s growth? Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes not. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that one limiting factor is almost always at play – a lack of vision. It’s time to ask yourself is your mindset is holding your company back. 

So often I see companies with a limited vision about what’s possible. They are primarily held down by the past – how things have been done, the results obtained before, etc.

I’m sure you’ve heard this story before. In May 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in three minutes 59.4 seconds. Until that point it was thought that the 4-minute barrier was impossible for humans to break. It was commonly believed that the human body wasn’t capable of that speed. Until it was. And you know what? Forty-six days (yes, days) later Bannister’s record was broken. Within a few years many would break that mark that was previously thought impossible.

It turns out the culprit, the barrier, wasn’t the entire human body, only the brain. When people’s mindset changed, so did their goals. Is your business mired in that same mindset. We’ve never made X amount of money before, so how would we ever do it? We’ve never sold that new product before, so why would anyone buy it from us now? We’ve never entered a new market in under X days/weeks/months so how could we now? It can ALL be done with the right mindset.

It begins with a vision. Not a boring plan or a textbook-derived strategy… a vision. What can be done. And honestly some of the best visions are the boldest. These visions suggest doing things that others commonly believe can’t be done.

A few years back I was advising the CEO of a nonprofit about a variety of issues. One thing I suggested to her time and time again was the need for a broad vision for her organization. Her typical response was that she didn’t have enough money…or enough staff…or whatever. So what was the point of “dreaming”? Sigh. I firmly believe she had it backwards.

You usually don’t get the money and the resources and then dream up a vision to invest them in. No one hands you a million dollars and says “Go figure out something grand to do with it.”. Nope. This is the real world. You need to have a future vision, understand those things that are in the way of achieving your vision and knocking them down. But those barriers typically don’t come down unless you first have a clear vision for what you want to achieve.  You build a long-term vision and bring others into that vision. Then you kick down the barriers that are in your way. Develop a strategy for making the vision a reality. Find a way to get the money. Bring on resources in a creative, effective, and efficient way.

So, today I encourage you to step back and look at your vision for your business’s future. Do you even have one? It’s so easy to be caught up in the day-to-day that we just forget. Or sometimes we feel that without unlimited resources we can’t achieve a old long-term vision. Wrong. Build a vision. Get others on board. Kick in some doors. See what you and your team can achieve together!

______ . ______

Being a business’s leader is never easy. Creating a vision takes creativity. Sharing that vision takes guts. Sometimes it also takes some help. Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed.  No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas. You can reach me at (713) 907-8429 or BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.com.

I hope you are enjoying these blog posts If so, please help spread the word. Tell others about IDiscover Consulting Group and IDiscover Journal. Share these posts. Comment on them. I’d really love to hear your ideas!

Posted in Business Growth/Strategy, Leadership/Management, NonProfit, Small Business | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Week’s Must Reads

Hello all! I hope you had a great weekend. As always I like to begin the week by sharing some of theReading 12 best articles I have come across over the last few days (along with some of my own stuff). Happy reading!

  • Valuations for later-stage software companies may be down 30-40% since 2015: bit.ly/2aB6KDJ
  • Thinking about using Instagram Stories for your small biz? Here’s how you might go about it. bit.ly/2aNMpYP
  • Economic mixed signals lately, but solid jobs report on Friday. Non-farm payroll +255K, expected +179K: on.wsj.com/2ar4Boy
  • Beware these branding mistakes that could KO your startup: entm.ag/2b6s3cm
  • Are you a freelancer/solopreneur who’s squandering your inherent advantages? bit.ly/2b5LUbB
  • Management and employees serving the community together can be a great way to build your company culture: bit.ly/2aVL5pK
  • Look for ways to use fun, engaging customer experiences to build brand awareness and loyalty: bit.ly/2axOwAO
  • Want to grow as a leader? Tackle these tasks outside your comfort zone: entm.ag/2asXbCK
  • Ever have trouble presenting a great new idea? Here are some tips to make that more effective: bit.ly/2aTlOcs
  • This article shared some great ways to lead and inspire your team: entm.ag/2axJhhK
  • What was the best career advice Tony Robbins ever got? read.bi/2axhj5P
  • Some great ideas for improving your leadership, communication skills: bit.ly/2aseBxv
  • How content marketing can drive your e-commerce biz: mklnd.com/2aKnTdP
  • So many of us can improve our negotiation skills. Here are a few exercise that can help: on.inc.com/2apbvKv
  • Interesting article about how subject matter experts can get caught in a “technical comfort zone”: bit.ly/2afTqPy
  • Is it possible you are addicted to marketing? Could THAT be what’s making your biz struggle? entm.ag/2aK4E3E
  • Being resourceful and making the most of your current situation is what leads to success: bit.ly/2aJEEWA
  • Science says not to be so quick to trust your gut about people: on.inc.com/2aLy6Dz
Also, last week I was very focused on the issue of clarity, being a leader who hears the “real” story about what’s going on in your business – good or bad. I shared a few tips along those lines:
  • Let employees know that you’d rather know the truth than to ignore significant issues that can drag your biz down.
  • Be sure your financial processes are designed to provide an honest and accurate picture of your financial condition.
  • It’s critical to have a plan for keeping your finger on the pulse of your customer relationships and loyalty.
  • Make sure you are running your business w/ a dose of realism about your brand, financials, customer relationships, etc.

And my last blog post went into some detail about why this is so important, what to look for, and how to get and deal with that information: No Surprises: Face Issues Head-on. I’d love to hear your experience with this. Please share any thoughts you have.

______ . ______
Well guys that’s it for today. Enjoy your reading. Leave a comment on the blog. Be sure to share this post and the blog with your colleagues. Have an awesome Monday!
Posted in Business Growth/Strategy, Communication, Leadership/Management, Market Research, Small Business, Summaries | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment