Eric Jacobson

Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Marketing: Benefits And Realities

In Eric Jacobson On Leadership, Marketing on April 13, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Fact:  “If you don’t market your business, you won’t have one,” says Bill McBean in his book, The Facts of Business Life.

He goes on to explain the following benefits and realities of marketing.

Benefits of Marketing:

  • Marketing lets prospective customers know that your company exists and what you do.
  • Marketing allows you to shape customer perception of your company.
  • Marketing differentiates your business from your competitors.
  • Marketing allows a business to deliver your “why buy here” and “why buy now” message.
  • Marketing helps your company capture market share and maintain success.
  • Marketing enables you to develop brand recognition and expand your product lines.
  • Marketing can help reinforce, or shore up, your business’s reputation.
  • Marketing enables your company to protect itself from competitors by promoting a competitive edge or advantage they can’t duplicate.

Realities of Marketing:

  • Everyone in the company has to have marketing in his or her job description in one form or another and be able to delivery on the business’ marketing promise, one customer at a time, and every time.
  • All the various elements of marketing — advertising, public relations, community activities, and others — are useful tools, but they must be coordinated if your marketing is to be as effective as possible.
  • As an owner, you have to make sure your company’s marketing efforts, message, and — especially — money are clearly aimed at your target market.
  • It is essential for you to keep up with the market, if not be on its leading edge, as well as be able to “read the tea leaves” to predict which products will be “hot” and which will cool off in the future.
  • Everything you do in marketing must be designed to attract the customer, sell the customer, or keep the customer– that’s why your business exists.

Why You Market

In Marketing on February 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Fact:  “If you don’t market your business, you won’t have one,” says Bill McBean in his book, The Facts of Business Life

He goes on to explain the following benefits and realities of marketing.

Benefits of Marketing: 

  • Marketing lets prospective customers know that your company exists and what you do.
  • Marketing allows you to shape customer perception of your company.
  • Marketing differentiates your business from your competitors.
  • Marketing allows a business to deliver your “why buy here” and “why buy now” message.
  • Marketing helps your company capture market share and maintain success.
  • Marketing enables you to develop brand recognition and expand your product lines.
  • Marketing can help reinforce, or shore up, your business’s reputation.
  • Marketing enables your company to protect itself from competitors by promoting a competitive edge or advantage they can’t duplicate.

Realities of Marketing:

  • Everyone in the company has to have marketing in his or her job description in one form or another and be able to delivery on the business’ marketing promise, one customer at a time, and every time.
  • All the various elements of marketing — advertising, public relations, community activities, and others — are useful tools, but they must be coordinated if your marketing is to be as effective as possible.
  • As an owner, you have to make sure your company’s marketing efforts, message, and — especially — money are clearly aimed at your target market.
  • It is essential for you to keep up with the market, if not be on its leading edge, as well as be able to “read the tea leaves” to predict which products will be “hot” and which will cool off in the future.
  • Everything you do in marketing must be designed to attract the customer, sell the customer, or keep the customer– that’s why your business exists.

4 Ways To Make Your Executive Coaching Experience More Successful

In Executive Coaching, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Marketing on April 15, 2012 at 8:04 am

If you are a leader already engaging with an executive coach, or contemplating engaging one, here are four ways to make  your coaching experience a success, as reported in a relatively recent issue of Fortune magazine:

  1. Find the right match.  Find someone to push and challenge you.  To encourage you and to hold you accountable.  Be sure the person you engage with is a person you can trust and can talk to easily.
  2. Be aware of your company’s expectations.  If your boss hired the coach to work with you, make sure your boss, and your boss’s boss, share their expectations and hoped-for outcomes with you.  Then, make sure your coach knows that those things belong at the top of your goals list.
  3. Get your money’s worth.  Work with your coach on issues or questions that have a direct correlation to success in your job.
  4. Be sure your coach sees you in action.  Allow your coach to observe you interacting with your peers or direct reports.  This also gives your colleagues a sense that you’re seen as valuable and promotable.  And, it shows them that you’re working on improving yourself.

Brad Hams’ Ownership Thinking Books Strives To Eradicate Entitlement In The Workplace

In Company Culture, Employee Retention, Engaging Employees, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Marketing, Motivating Employees, Setting Goals on March 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

Entitlement is “killing your business,” says author Brad Hams.  

And after more than 15 years working with hundreds of companies, Hams says he knows “that the vast majority of employees addicted to entitlement actually want to engage, want to contribute, and feel much better about themselves when they are in an environment that requires them to do so.”

Hams takes a no holds barred approach in his new book, Ownership Thinking — How to End Entitlement and Create a Culture of Accountability, Purpose and Profit.

He believes that:

  • Roughly 8 percent of potential profit may be falling through the cracks in your company if you suffer from a culture of entitlement

Ownership Thinking is a provocative read for leaders within an organization and for every level generation of employees who are guided by those leaders.

“Entitlement has become an enormous problem in our culture, and I’m afraid it’s getting worse with every generation,” says Hams.

In an exclusive interview, Hams answered these questions:

QuestionWhat makes you say that employees actually want to take ownership of their work?

Hams: Perhaps the most tangible answer is the fact that we have implemented Ownership Thinking in over 1,600 companies over the past 16 years, and in nearly every case, employees have become far more engaged in the business, the businesses have become more profitable (and those profits are shared with employees), and employee retention has increased on average by roughly 200 percent.

People are drawn to unearned compensation and security for obvious reasons, but we have learned that they are not happy there.  In part, because dependence on these unearned benefits creates feelings of purposelessness, and ultimately crushes potential.  Employees want to participate, they want to contribute, and they want to benefit from their contributions.

We have also seen that contributors become less tolerant of non-contributors in this environment, creating something of a self-selecting environment.

Question:  Do you think your book will be deemed controversial?

Hams: Perhaps to some.  I believe those people who may be offended are those who have a misguided sense of altruism.  They believe that people are essentially helpless, and must be supported.  I know this is not true.

People are in fact tough, and the vast majority of them can lift themselves up and take care of themselves, and in fact many can do extraordinary things when put in a position where they must take responsibility for themselves.

Providing things for people who in fact could, in fact, obtain these things themselves through work and perseverance, simply exacerbates this unhealthy (and I would say tragic) cycle of purposelessness and dependence.

Question:  For the generation that was protected by their parents, is it fair to say that those children are not at fault that they have an entitlement attitude?

Hams: I don’t care who is at fault.  What I care about is breaking people of this tragic addiction that is preventing them from leading fulfilled and beautiful lives.  Ownership Thinking can do that.

Question: For that entitlement generation now in their adulthood, how do they break out of the mold and clearly demonstrate to employers their buy-in of Ownership Thinking?  What is the best thing they can do?

Hams: Leadership must create the environment for them to do this, I believe.  They can do it by utilizing the core principals of Ownership Thinking:

  • The Right Education: Teaching employees the fundamentals of business and finance, how their company makes money, and how they add (or take away) value.
  • The Right Measures: Identifying the organization’s Key Performance Indicators (with an emphasis on leading, activity-based measures), creating scoreboards, and forecasting results in an environment of high visibility and accountability.
  • The Right Incentives: Creating broad-based incentive plans that are self-funding (by virtue of the first two components), and that clearly align employees’ behavior to the organization’s business and financial objectives.

How To Hire A Marketing Leader

In Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Hiring, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Management, Marketing on January 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Welcome Debbie Laskey to my blog! 

With 15 years of marketing experience and an MBA Degree, Debbie developed her marketing expertise while working in the high-tech industry, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, the non-profit arena, and the insurance industry. 

Currently, Debbie is a brand marketing and social media consultant to small businesses and nonprofits in California. 

I met Debbie a few years ago while we worked together on a training committee for MicroMentor, a nonprofit that connects small business owners with business mentors. 

  • Debbie and I recently discussed what business owners should look for when hiring marketing leaders, and highlights are provided below. 

Eric:  What personality traits are ideal for a marketing leader?

Debbie Laskey: First, marketing is not sales. I say this because, while the two areas must work in tandem if both departments exist in a company, sales people have very different personalities than those in marketing.

People who sell cars or real estate focus completely on the sale. Most people who work in marketing focus on the entire customer lifecycle from prospecting to building relationships to creating a sale to building repeat business. Therefore, marketing professionals need to be patient, flexible, high-energy, and dedicated. 

From a business perspective, the best marketing professionals are innovative, open-minded, adaptable, and enjoy working with all types of people. From a management perspective, the best marketing leaders are those who have managed both small and large teams, possess excellent communication skills, served as leaders in the past, and worked in a variety of industries.

Eric:  What’s the best professional background for a marketing leader?

Debbie Laskey: Talented marketing leaders can go from one industry to another with fast ramp-up time. Since experience and education are critical, a person who has worked as a marketing leader in one industry can apply what he/she has learned – both initiatives that worked and those that didn’t – and can easily market anything ranging from widgets to professional services. Naturally, there will be differences in the B2C, B2B, and nonprofit arenas, but marketing leaders can quickly study the competitive landscape, target market, value proposition, and then recommend viable marketing campaigns.

Eric:  What should be discussed during the interview process when searching for a marketing leader?

Debbie Laskey: Since a marketing leader should be an important member of a company’s leadership team, the hiring process should allow sufficient time for both parties to get to know each other. 

Several members of the company should interview the top candidates, and questions should focus on realistic situations to determine how the candidates will approach the development of marketing campaigns and how to increase business opportunities for the company. 

It is an insult to ask questions such as, “If you were a bug, which one would you be?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” These questions range from the ridiculous to those that demand canned responses. The reality is that no one will hire a candidate who can list three weaknesses. Besides, if someone is a good interviewer, he/she can easily determine strengths and weaknesses without having to ask. 

Since the best interviews are conversations, rather than interrogations, focus on realistic marketing scenarios such as, “If we were going to implement a social media campaign, which social media channels would you emphasize and why?” or “If we were going to implement a mobile marketing initiative for the spring quarter, how would you create your plan?” 

Also, ask for details about previous marketing successes – and watch how the candidate explains the successes. Is he/she enthusiastic or bored? Does he/she take ownership of the campaign? Also, ask about marketing campaigns that might not have yielded the expected results. Ask the candidate to explain why and watch body language. Does he/she take ownership for the lack of results? 

If the candidate said he/she managed others, one way to confirm the accuracy of that fact is by asking how he/she rewarded or thanked a subordinate for performing excellent work. Again, watch how the candidate answers and be on the look-out for enthusiasm or discomfort.

Eric:  How should you measure the performance of a newly-hired marketing leader after 30 days, 90 days, and one year?

Debbie Laskey: When a new person joins the team as the marketing leader, there is often a lot to learn about the company, its competitive advantage, its target market, and its competitors. Therefore, a good marketing professional will spend time creating a marketing audit, which reflects on the external marketing environment (customers and competition), the internal marketing environment (company resources including staff, budgets, product portfolio, new products, pricing, distribution, and market share), and evaluates all previous marketing initiatives. 

It is critical to understand previous marketing activities, what worked, and what did not work in order to create a new marketing plan that will yield more successful results. 

If a company does not want the new marketing leader to analyze previous initiatives, that is a clue that the company does not want to undertake any serious marketing initiatives. Walk to the door and leave – no, run – the job is not a fit and will just cause frustration. But if the company’s leaders genuinely want to improve their business and implement new marketing initiatives, they will welcome a detailed marketing audit. 

Based on timing and priorities, an audit may take one-to-three months. 

In addition, a new marketing leader should speak with all department leaders to gain detailed understandings of their departments and how they will work in tandem with the marketing department

There may also be a need to hire additional marketing staff – that may take place during a marketing leader’s first six-to-twelve months. 

But the bottom line is that the new marketing leader and the business owner must agree on the marketing leader’s overall objectives for all timeframes – they must be on the same page for success to result.

Eric:  Where can a business owner learn more about marketing?

Debbie Laskey: Here are some excellent online marketing resources:

You may follow Debbie on Twitter (www.twitter.com/DebbieLaskeyMBA), Google+ (http://www.gplus.to/dlmba), or on her Blog (http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com).

9 Times When You Should Thank Customers

In Customer Service, Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Marketing, Sales Management on November 12, 2011 at 10:17 am

In your leadership role, it’s vital that your team members know how to deliver excellent customer service.  “Knock Your Socks Off” type service as book editor Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate would say.

Part of delivering excellent customer service is saying Thank You to your customers and knowing when to say Thank You.

Thomas and Applegate recommend telling your customers Thank You during at least these nine situations:

  1. When they do business with you…every time.
  2. When they compliment you (or your company)
  3. When they offer you comments or suggestions
  4. When they try one of your new products or services
  5. When they recommend you to a friend
  6. When they are patient…and even when they are not so patient
  7. When they help you to serve them better
  8. When they complain to you
  9. When they make you smile

You and your team members can say thank you:

  • Verbally
  • In writing (and don’t underestimate the power of personal notes via snail mail)
  • With a small, tasteful, appropriate gift

What To Ask Yourself Before You Start A New Business

In General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Skills, Management, Marketing on March 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

Are you a leader contemplating starting a new business?  Or, has a budding entrepreneur turned to you because of your leadership skills to ask for your help? 

Here are 11 questions you or that entrepreneur should ask before starting a business.

  1. Is there a true need for my product/service? 
  2. What is the competitive environment and how will my product/service be unique, different or better?
  3. Will my location (or accessibility online) be convenient and easy to get to for my customers? 
  4. Do I have adequate funding to support my business, particularly during the ramp-up period that could be a year or more?
  5. Do I have the stamina to start a new business and work hard even if it means months of extended work hours and perhaps even seven days a week?
  6. Will my family and social life withstand my commitment to my new business?
  7. Will the name of my business be easy to spell, suitable for print on online, and memorable?
  8. Am I a risk taker?
  9. Am I humble enough to ask for help, especially if I am not an expert in marketing or accounting?
  10. Do I hire well? Do I have the skills, ability and resources to hire people who will share my same vision, work ethic and commitment to the business?
  11. Do I have an exit plan? Do I know how to handle exiting from the business should it fail or, ideally, should it become so successful I’ll be able to sell it?

And, before you start your business, write a business plan even if you don’t have to present one to a bank, funders or lenders.  And, ask a handful of your peers to review your plan.  Be sure to select a few people who are your best critics.

Writing the plan, which could take two to six weeks of working on it nearly every day, will force you to think of all aspects of your business and will require you to address tough questions you will likely not ask without the discipline of writing a plan.

Perhaps most critical in your plan will be the sections on:

  • Competition
  • Marketing
  • Financial Projections

5 Ways To Connect With Your Customers Online

In Blogging, Customer Service, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Skills, Management, Marketing, Social Media on March 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm

If you are struggling with how best to connect with your customers online whether it’s via a company Blog or your website, consider these five approaches from the best-selling book, The Network Is Your Customer, by David L. Rogers:

  • Try Branding, Not Selling — Offer a story, entertainment, or a compelling idea that you can link convincingly to your brand, rather than trying to sell products or services directly.
  • Offer Utility — Provide content and interaction that helps solve a problem or answers a critical information need for your audience.
  • Show A Personal Face — Engage customers by showing a personal side and an authentic voice in digital content rather than the objective and authoritative voice of an institution.
  • Focus On The Particular — Focus on niche audiences and their specific needs and interests, rather than trying to engage every possible customer with the same content.
  • Make It A Game — Use the interactive, goal-based play of online games to engage customers for fun, education, and relationship-building.

Are You Connecting With Your Customers?

In Blogging, Company Culture, Customer Service, General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Management, Marketing, Sales Management on February 24, 2011 at 4:08 am

Here are some key questions to ask yourself about how to connect with your customers in today’s digital age:

  • Are we making it easy for customers to find us in their digital lives?
  • Do we offer services and content to customers on their schedule, not ours?
  • Do our Web services run well on any browser, smartphone, or digital interface?
  • Can our customers use their phones and mobile devices to find us, learn about us and pay us?
  • Are we responding to customers online in a timely manner?
  • Are we giving our biggest supporters the opportunity to connect with us and champion our business online?
  • Has the conversation among our customers become a vital part of our business?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you may need to also ask yourself these questions as well:

  • What assumptions about our business do we need to reconsider?
  • How does our culture need to change?
  • What new skills and capacities do we need to foster?
According to author David L. Rogers, “to thrive in our digital age, businesses need to reimagine our customers: not as a mass of isolated individual actors but as networks–with each customer as a node linking and dynamically interacting with each other and with us.”
In Roger’s latest book, The Network Is Your Customer, he offers delves deeply into five strategies for how to thrive in a digital age:
  • Access
  • Engage
  • Customize
  • Connect
  • Collaborate

Today’s customers, explains Rogers, seek to:

  • Freely access digital data, content and interaction as quickly, easily and flexibly as possible.
  • Engage with digital content that is sensory, interactive, and relevant to their needs.
  • Customize their experiences by choosing and modifying a wide assortment of information, products and services.
  • Connect with one another by sharing their ideas and opinions in text, videos, and social links.
  • Collaborate on collective projects and goals through open platforms.

Because of these new customer behaviors, Rogers suggests businesses may need to form new units within their companies to have dedicated teams for:

  • Interacting with customers using Facebook, Twitter or discussion forums.
  • Capturing, assessing and directing ideas from customers in order to feed them into product innovation and business process improvement.
  • Generating regular content for customer networks that is neither traditional advertising nor traditional public relations.

Rogers’ book is ideal for all businesses and nonprofits and includes more than 100 case studies that I found interesting and thought-provoking in the advance copy he sent me.

Watch Super Bowl XLV For The Advertisers’ Social Media Plays

In General Leadership Skills, Leadership, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Management, Marketing, Social Media on February 6, 2011 at 8:44 am

As you watch Super Bowl XLV today, watch particularly for how advertisers integrate their social media with their TV commercials, and then voice your opinion about which advertiser did the most strategic and effective job of making that integration.

Mixing traditional media with new media will be unprecedented this year. 

  • One reason is that nearly two-thirds of 18- to 34-year-olds planning to watch the Super Bowl have smartphones and intend to use them while watching the game, according to Lightspeed Research.
  • Of those, 59% will be sending emails or text messages about the game while 18% will be checking out the ads online from their phones.

Some advertisers have already started their pre-game, social media play to build brand buzz and attract viewers to watch their Super Bowl commercials.

Watch for advertisers that will:

  • ask viewers to post pictures on special advertiser websites and then share them via Facebook and Twitter
  • post outtakes and/or exclusive content after the game on their websites and social media pages
  • invite (or already have invited) people to submit consumer-made-ads about the advertisers’ products
  • offer Facebook “fan only” content
  • encourage viewers to tweet about their ads
  • tie together a story that can only be pieced together by viewers by watching the TV commercial and by engaging with the advertiser’s social media

So, which advertiser scored best integrating the old with the new?

Finally, as a business leader, let today’s display of integration be food for thought about how your business can effectively integrate your social media with your more traditional marketing and promotion.

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