The 4C's of a Chairman

The four Cs – a chairman’s thoughts on making it to the top:

  • Wherever you are, well honed communication skills are highly important.
  • Continued learning – lifelong learning is no longer a buzz word but a real necessity to be conscientiously practiced.
  • Confidence in yourself – never be afraid to seize sensible opportunities – be ambitious.
  • Care and attention to those you love and indeed to those you work with. A selfish narrow life soon becomes too difficult to correct.

Murray Stuart, CBE (Chairman, Scottish Power)

 

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100 Marketing Ideas for your Business

GENERAL IDEAS

  • Never let a day pass without engaging in at least one marketing activity.
  • Determine a percentage of gross income to spend annually on marketing.
  • Set specific marketing goals every year; review and adjust quarterly.
  • Maintain a tickler file of ideas for later use.
  • Carry business cards with you (all day, every day).
  • Create a personal nametag or pin with your company name and logo on it and wear it at high visibility meetings.

TARGET MARKET

  • Stay alert to trends that might impact your target market, product or promotion strategy.
  • Read market research studies about your profession, industry, product, target market groups, etc.
  • Collect competitors’ ads and literature; study them for information about strategy, product features and benefits, etc.
  • Ask clients why they hired you and solicit suggestions for improvement.
  • Ask former clients why they left you.
  • Identify a new market.
  • Join a list-serve (email list) related to your profession.
  • Subscribe to an Internet usenet newsgroup or a list-serve that serves your target market.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

  • Create a new service, technique or product.
  • Offer a simpler/cheaper/smaller version of your (or another existing) product or service.
  • Offer a fancier/more expensive/faster/bigger version of your (or another existing) product or service.
  • Update your services.

EDUCATION, RESOURCES AND INFORMATION

  • Establish a marketing and public relations advisory and referral team composed of your colleagues and/or neighboring business owners to share ideas and referrals and to discuss community issues. Meet quarterly for breakfast.
  • Create a suggestion box for employees.
  • Attend a marketing seminar.
  • Read a marketing book.
  • Subscribe to a marketing newsletter or other publication.
  • Subscribe to a marketing list-serve on the Internet.
  • Subscribe to a marketing usenet newsgroup on the Internet.
  • Train your staff, clients and colleagues to promote referrals.
  • Hold a monthly marketing meeting with employees or associates to discuss strategy, status and to solicit marketing ideas.
  • Join an association or organization related to your profession.
  • Get a marketing intern to take you on as a client; it will give the intern experience and you some free marketing help.
  • Maintain a consultant card file for finding designers, writers and other marketing professionals.
  • Hire a marketing consultant to brainstorm with.
  • Take a “creative journey” to another progressive city or country to observe and learn from marketing techniques used there.

PRICING AND PAYMENT

  • Analyze your fee structure; look for areas requiring modifications or adjustments.
  • Establish a credit card payment option for clients.
  • Give regular clients a discount.
  • Learn to barter; offer discounts to members of certain clubs/professional groups/organizations in exchange for promotions in their publications.
  • Give “quick pay” or cash discounts.
  • Offer financing or installment plans.

MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS

  • Publish a newsletter for customers and prospects. (It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.)
  • Develop a brochure of services.
  • Include a postage-paid survey card with your brochures and other company literature. Include check-off boxes or other items that will involve the reader and provide valuable feedback to you.
  • Remember, business cards aren’t working for you if they’re in the box. Pass them out! Give prospects two business cards and brochures — one to keep and one to pass along.
  • Produce separate business cards/sales literature for each of your target market segments (e.g. government and commercial, and/or business and consumer).
  • Create a poster or calendar to give away to customers and prospects.
  • Print a slogan and/or one-sentence description of your business on letterhead, fax cover sheets and invoices.
  • Develop a site on the World Wide Web.
  • Create a “signature file” to be used for all your e-mail messages. It should contain contact details including your Web site address and key information about your company that will make the reader want to contact you.
  • Include “testimonials” from customers in your literature.
  • Test a new mailing list. If it produces results, add it to your current direct mail lists or consider replacing a list that’s not performing up to expectations.
  • Use colored or oversized envelopes for your direct mailings. Or send direct mail in plain white envelopes to pique recipients’ curiosity.
  • Announce free or special offers in your direct response pieces. (Direct responses may be direct mail, broadcast fax, or e-mail messages.) Include the offer in the beginning of the message and also on the outside of the envelope for direct mail.

MEDIA RELATIONS

  • Update your media list often so that press releases are sent to the right media outlet and person.
  • Write a column for the local newspaper, local business journal or trade publication.
  • Publish an article and circulate reprints.
  • Send timely and newsworthy press releases as often as needed.
  • Publicize your 500th client of the year (or other notable milestone).
  • Create an annual award and publicize it– as an outstanding employee of the year.
  • Get public relations and media training or read up on it.
  • Appear on a radio or TV talk show.
  • Create your own TV program on your industry or your specialty. Market the show to your local cable station or public broadcasting station as a regular program. Or, see if you can air your show on an open access cable channel.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or to a trade magazine editor.
  • Take an editor to lunch.
  • Get a publicity photo taken and enclose with press releases.
  • Consistently review newspapers and magazines for possible PR opportunities.
  • Submit “tip” articles to newsletters and newspapers.
  • Conduct industry research and develop a press release or article to announce an important discovery in your field.
  • Create a press kit and keep its contents current.

CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CUSTOMER RELATIONS

  • Ask your clients to come back again.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
  • Set up a fax-on-demand or email system to easily respond to customer inquiries.
  • Use an answering machine or voice mail system to catch after-hours phone calls. Include basic information in your outgoing message such a business hours, location, etc.
  • Record a memorable message or “tip of the day” on your outgoing answering machine or voice mail message.
  • Ask clients what you can do the help them.
  • Take clients out to a ball game, a show or another special event– just send them two tickets with a note.
  • Hold a seminar at your office for clients and prospects.
  • Send hand-written thank-you notes.
  • Send birthday cards and appropriate seasonal greetings.
  • Photocopy interesting articles and send them to clients and prospects with a hand-written “FYI” note and your business card.
  • Send a book of interest or other appropriate business gift to a client with a handwritten note.
  • Create an area on your Web site specifically for your customers.
  • Redecorate your office or location where you meet with your clients.

NETWORKING AND WORD OF MOUTH

  • Join a Chamber of Commerce or other organization.
  • Join or organize a breakfast club with other professionals (not in your field) to discuss business and network referrals.
  • Mail a brochure to members of organizations to which you belong.
  • Serve on a city board or commission.
  • Host a holiday party.
  • Hold an open house.
  • Send letters to attendees after you attend a conference.
  • Join a community list-serve (email list) on the Internet.

ADVERTISING

  • Advertise during peak seasons for your business.
  • Get a memorable phone number, such as “1-800-WIDGETS.”
  • Obtain a memorable URL and email address and include them on all marketing materials.
  • Provide Rolodex® cards or phone stickers pre-printed with your business contact information.
  • Promote your business jointly with other professionals via cooperative direct mail.
  • Advertise in a specialty directory or in the Yellow Pages.
  • Write an ad in another language to reach a non-English-speaking market. Place the ad in a publication that market reads, such as a Hispanic newspaper.
  • Distribute advertising specialty products such as pens, mouse pads or mugs.
  • Mail “bumps,” photos, samples and other innovative items to your prospect list. (A bump is simply anything that makes the mailing envelope bulge and makes the recipient curious about what’s in the envelope!)
  • Create a direct mail list of “hot prospects.”
  • Consider non-traditional tactics such as bus backs, billboards and popular Web sites.
  • Project a message on the sidewalk in front of your place of business using a light directed through words etched in a glass window.
  • Consider placing ads in your newspaper’s classified section.
  • Consider a vanity automobile tag with your company name.
  • Create a friendly bumper sticker for your car.
  • Code your ads and keep records of results.
  • Improve your building signage and directional signs inside and out.
  • Invest in a neon sign to make your office or storefront window visible at night.
  • Create a new or improved company logo or “recolor” the traditional logo.
  • Sponsor and promote a contest or sweepstakes.

SPECIAL EVENTS AND OUTREACH

  • Get a booth at a fair/trade show attended by your target market.
  • Sponsor or host a special event or open house at your business location in cooperation with a local non-profit organization, such as a women’s business center. Describe how the organization helped you.
  • Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.
  • Teach a class or seminar at a local college or adult education center.
  • Sponsor an “Adopt-a-Road” area in your community to keep roads litter-free. People that pass by the area will see your name on the sign announcing your sponsorship.
  • Volunteer your time to a charity or non-profit organization.
  • Donate your product or service to a charity auction.
  • Appear on a panel at a professional seminar.
  • Write a “How To” pamphlet or article for publishing.
  • Produce and distribute an educational CD-ROM, audio or video tape.
  • Publish a book.

SALES IDEAS

  • Start every day with two cold calls.
  • Read newspapers, business journals and trade publications for new business openings and for personnel appointment and promotion announcements made by companies. Send your business literature to appropriate individuals and firms.
  • Give your sales literature to your lawyer, accountant, printer, banker, temp agency, office supply salesperson, advertising agency, etc. (Expand your sales force for free!)
  • Put your fax number on order forms for easy submission.
  • Set up a fax-on-demand or email system to easily distribute responses to company or product inquiries.
  • Follow up on your direct mailings, email messages and broadcast faxes with a friendly telephone call.
  • Try using the broadcast fax or email delivery methods instead of direct mail. (Broadcast fax and email allows you to send the same message to many locations at once.)
  • Using broadcast fax or email messages to notify your customers of product service updates.
  • Extend your hours of operation.
  • Reduce response/turnaround time. Make reordering easy– reminders. Provide pre-addressed envelopes.
  • Display product and service samples at your office.
  • Remind clients of the products and services you provide that they aren’t currently buying.
  • Call and/or send mail to former clients to try to reactivate them.
  • Take sales orders over the Internet.

Google Settlement

The search engine is reported quaking in its boots about the prospect of receiving a huge fine from the European Union for its anti-trust antics. The company has confirmed that it would settle antitrust charges following an ultimatum by the European regulators who investigated its business practices.

Joaquin Almunia, the Competition Commissioner of the European Union, set an early July deadline for the search giant to resolve the concerns of over a dozen competitors, one of which is Microsoft.

The representative of the search engine, Al Verney, told in the interview that Google had made a proposal to address the 4 areas the European Commission regarded as concerns. Those 4 areas seem to have come from the European watchdog that barked about the engine’s business practices after an 18-month long investigation.

Meanwhile, Antoine Colombani (a spokesperson for Almunia) confirmed that the watchdog of the European Union had got a letter from the search engine’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt. However, nothing was said about the watchdog being satisfied yet.

They argue that the search giant may have favored its own search services over its competitors, including Microsoft. Besides, it may have also copied travel and restaurant reviews from the rivals’ websites without their permission.

An allegation is that the engine’s advertising deals with various websites effectively stopped its competitors from operating. At the same time, its contractual restrictions managed to prevent advertisers from moving their Internet campaigns away from the company.

FairSearch, whose members are Internet travel agencies and Google complainants Expedia and TripAdvisor, is hoping that the search engine’s proposals would address these problems.

Looking for a new Employee? Beware

Being in the business of hiring and firing personnel, I ran across a few weird cases ranging from weirdly dressed to carrying the wrong attitude needed from an employee.

Below are a few images on the different types encountered so far:

The Apologizer - Interviewee Gone Bad
Every time you see him, he apologizes for something – either made up or factual. From running late to arriving to early. From not understanding you or for speaking uninvited. For not speaking enough.
The appeaser
Overly dedicated from the moment you see him – you can almost smell desperation on him. I feel sorry for these people as they are trying their best to impress, but sometimes they go overboard when saying what they are willing to do to get the job done.
The bullshitter
*cough cough* Sorry, I’m allergic to BS.
This is what I should have been saying when I heard an interviewee brag about his past performances which included running the 42Km Marathon, developing Windows with Bill Gates, telling Steve Jobs that the iPad sucked waaay back and also having met with all three US presidents in person.
The Mute
Either caused by emotions or unwillingness to communicate, the Mute Interviewee is easily recognizable by the lack of sounds he produces. You ask him a question and he either takes a very long time to respond or responds in a laconic fashion. “So, what did you study in college?”
Expected answer: “C#, VB.NET, a bit of ASP, loads of database programming with SQL”
Real answer: “Programming.”
Very keen to find out just what he did last summer.
The Nervous Twitcher
You are in a meeting room with your colleague. You are looking at the last person that came in for the job you advertised. He is sitting there tapping his hand on the arm rest looking at you. “Is he so impatient to get started? He’d only just come in.”
Then he takes a pen and starts twirling it in his hand. And then starts talking but the pen does not stop moving. It’s worse if they distract you with a noise they are not aware of even making.
The Underdresser
I know it’s summer time, but when going to an interview you do not need to show your new bathing suit or your jogging pants.
A friend of mine had one guy show up at a business class centre dressed in jeans and snickers. He was promptly kicked out and asked to return in proper attire if he wanted a shot at getting the job. I was kinder to the people that came to my interview room but I went wild once when a guy turned up in shorts, nodded past me and then sat on the office couch like he owned the place, legs sprawled and arms everywhere. When he asked me “Make me a coffee and send the interview person in” I promptly showed him the door and asked him to step out for good.
The overdresser
When going to an interview you need to be properly dressed. A smart suit, a gray dress, even a black one will be appropriate along with a plain blouse or shirt.
Coming with your grandmother’s pearls or with a tuxedo is a bit of an overkill, telling the employer that you do not know the job you are applying for well enough nor the common sense …
The Trash Talker
You know confidence can be attractive in an interview. Being a douche cannot be considered in any way attractive. Bad mouthing your past colleagues, your employers and even the company you are currently in will only get you black points and out the door as soon as you come in.
The Talker
Pertinent responses to questions are about a phrase or two long. I do not want to know your life story since birth. I do not want to know what you did yesterday or what you ate for lunch. Overtalking can get you into bother with the Mafia and it can certainly also keep you away from your dream job.
The Stench
Pretty self explanatory. BO kills.