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Creating an employee value proposition

Creating an employee value proposition

A good employee value proposition (EVP) helps an organisation articulate with clarity the benefits that an employee gets in exchange for the skills they bring to the organisation.  It’s concise and must be based on real evidence and discussions with employees and what they actually think about what they get out of working for you. Every business and organisation has an EVP, whether they have defined it or not. And it’s just because of that fact that it’s worth taking the time to look at your psychological contract with your employees. Here are some simple steps to defining your own EVP:

Step 1. – Talk to your employees

Get to know what your employees really think about what you offer. Do some research, a simple online survey, a full staff engagement research programme, if they’re away from the office lots then talk by phone, use a third party, hopefully you can just talk to them, however you choose, just make sure you’re really listening to them. You want the unvarnished truth, the details, the experience and you have to do your best to forget your own views of how wonderful your benefits package is and not let your views get in the way of what your employees are actually saying.

Step 2. – Develop your proposition

Develop your proposition, by reviewing the feedback you have and building a series of statements that answer these simple questions:

  • What do my employees see as the benefits they get?
  • What are my employees’ views of the leadership of the organisation?
  • How does our vision and mission for the company influence how they see the business?
  • Do our HR processes support fully our purpose as a business and align with our culture?
  • Why is my offer any better than what my competition offer?

Step 3. – Test your proposition

Test your proposition. With your team, with friends, with business acquaintances, with employees. Make sure it fits, it helps people to understand what you do and why you’re right for them. Listen to the feedback and modify as necessary until you have it right.

 

Using your EVP

In a larger organisation there may be many more phases, but in essence these three are the key.

Now, armed with your new employee value proposition you can tell your staff all about it; use it as a tool to guide how you go about attracting new staff; use it to make sure all your processes are aligned and meet the needs of your people; this is your culture, find ways of ingraining it into all your employee interactions!

Your employee value proposition is your organisation’s DNA, it should run through everything you do.

 

Creating a vision in a complex world

Creating a vision in a complex world

From time to time, we realise that life has moved on and the things we said 5 years ago don’t apply anymore. We’ve changed, our market has changed, our community has changed.

At times like these it can be worth taking an objective look at where we’re headed and placing some structure around it. The first step is often to lay out the vision of your organisation.

A good vision statement works by helping everyone (staff, customers, other stakeholders) understand and align with the goals of the business for the future. It articulates the future environment in which you will be operating, the nature of the community you will be serving and the services you will be delivering, and how that compares and stands out as different.

Articulating your vision can be a challenging process. It requires investigation, reflection and discussion. It helps to follow a process:

  • Discovery – unearthing the detail: where your market is headed, what your product or service delivers for people
  • Development of the vision – laying out the impact you want to have on the world
  • Testing and review – once you’ve worked out what you think you’re doing, who you’re helping and the reasons they’ll buy into your business, you need to test it – with staff, with customers, with other stakeholders  – and then refine it
  • Communication – the final stage is to let the world know where you’re headed and their part in it.

Now you have your vision you can go ahead and make sure your mission as a business (how you’ll get there) is aligned and, if you like, you can also define the values of your business, to help your team understand what behaviours are expected of them.

3 simple steps to developing a customer value proposition

3 simple steps to developing a customer value proposition

A clear value proposition helps a business articulate with clarity what it does, who it does it for and what’s different about the way it does it. It’s concise and most importantly based on what your customers actually think about your product or service, not what you, the business owner, think they should think.

 

Step 1. – Listen to your customers

Get to know what your customers really think. Do some research, online, by phone, use a third party, maybe just talk to them, however you choose, just make sure you’re really listening to them. You want the unvarnished truth, the details, the experience and you have to do your best to forget your own views of how wonderful your product is and not let your views get in the way of what your customers are actually saying.

Step 2. – Develop your proposition

Develop your proposition, by reviewing the feedback you have and building a series of statements that answer these simple questions:

  • What is the service I offer?
  • Who do I serve with it?
  • What are the benefits my customers get from my product?
  • Why is it better than what my competition offer?

Step 3. – Test your proposition

Test your proposition. With your team, with friends, with business acquaintances, with customers. Make sure it fits, it helps people to understand what you do and why you’re right for them. Listen to the feedback and modify as necessary until you have it right.

 

In a larger organisation there may be many more phases, but in essence these three are the key.

Now, armed with your new proposition you can look at how you express your business to your market and see whether your sales pitch, website etc. need updating. Remember your proposition probably isn’t something that you quote word for word, or paste all over your web site. It’s the foundation from which you build your marketing and sales materials.

Now you have a value proposition, you have a story that helps your sales team sell, helps your marketers market and makes choosing you the right choice for your customers.

Why marketing to your existing customers really pays

Why marketing to your existing customers really pays

Business has slowed. You’re looking at ways to give your business a boost. So, what should you do? More promotions to get more customers through the door? Or work on those customers who are already there?

Often when we’re looking at supplementing a shortfall in our revenues, we’ll start by looking for new clients. It feels productive and a new client could be the next goldmine for us. We often overlook the potential of the existing clients we have. Sometimes we’re even afraid to go back and ask for more work from those we’ve got on so well with as clients in the past.

Nevertheless, spending a little time on those existing clients really can pay dividends. Why is customer marketing important?

  • You have a relationship with them already. You don’t need to shout from the rooftops and hope someone will hear. You can be very targeted. And you’re less likely to be pitching against other competitors.
  • It’s cheaper – the effort required is often considerably less than winning a new account.
  • You could convert a client into a true ambassador for your business – get them to do the door-knocking for you by telling the world how great you are.
  • You might even choose to do something for an existing client that goes above and beyond what you’d normally do. Increasing trust, increasing loyalty, increasing your brand equity. This kind of activity can pay back considerably in the longer-term.
  • And even if you find there isn’t anything that you can do for your client right now, it is unlikely to do you harm when you make a courtesy call to someone who has bought from you previously.

That’s not to say you don’t need to go after the new clients. Just make sure the balance is right and you’re not missing opportunities that are sitting on the table.

Developing a digital marketing strategy that delivers leads for technology companies

Developing a digital marketing strategy that delivers leads for technology companies

You’re a technology company. You have a great product. The clients that have your product love it. But you’re not getting the growth that you want. It’s time to look at 2 things: 1) the number of leads you’re getting in; 2) how you’re closing the business.

In reality, you should look at no. 2 first – what’s your win rate? why are you losing? what are the competition doing better? These are the first questions to answer. Only once you’re good at closing the business leads you have is it really worth looking at generating loads more. And, let’s be clear, you have to be honest about why you’re not closing – “the client was an idiot”, or “they don’t understand what they’re buying”, or “our product is clearly better, they just didn’t get it” simply aren’t good enough reasons. If you truly believe that to be the case, then it’s time to look at the way you’re pitching your product. If you’re losing because they want a different feature set, then start qualifying your leads a little better. If you’re losing because of price, then take a closer look at the market. Either way, make sure you know what’s going wrong. And in the cases where you’re getting it right find out why you got it right (the real reason, not the one you made up in your head). All of this is done by talking to your customers and potential buyers throughout the sales cycle and after.

Now, if you’re clear on the best way to close business for your product, it’s time to start filling the hopper with leads. Your digital marketing strategy should help you fill the hopper. We’ll focus on digital marketing, but other marketing needs to be addressed too – we’ll just focus on digital for now, because it’s generally core to the tech sales cycle.

Our strategy can be boiled down to: “Deliver relevant helpful information to your prospects that leads them to think about your product as a solution to their problem. Use digital channels.”. Let’s break that down:

  • get to know your audience
  • get to know what they’re interested in
  • get to know how they consume information
  • get to know the emotional triggers that will spark their interest in the thing that you do
  • create stories that demonstrate how your product solves their problem
  • get the story in front of them
  • make it easy for them to contact you

Clearly there’s a lot that lies behind each of these points especially when it comes to “getting the story in front of them”, but actually if you’re doing the first 5 steps right then getting the story in front of them becomes much more straightforward than you may believe.

Want to know more? Give us a shout.

Re-invigorating lapsed customers

Re-invigorating lapsed customers

Sometimes people just stop buying from us. Maybe the project ends. Maybe they run out of money for a while. Maybe they think they’ll get something better elsewhere. When a customer stops buying from you what do you do? How do you prioritise which ones to go after? And, how do you go about winning them back? After all they’re often a very warm prospect and it should be relatively easy, right?

If you only have a few customers who you know well it’s relatively straightforward to choose who to go after and all it may take is a quick phone call to re-establish a relationship. However, when the number is greater, the relationship less close, it can be a tall order. Here are some simple tips on how to begin…

1. Take your time

This doesn’t meant be lazy, this means recognise that in order to win customers back, it takes time. You will need to re-build awareness and trust. You will need to re-establish connections. You will need to earn their interest in what you do

2. Remind yourself what interests them and make sure it aligns with what you want to sell them

Some of your previous customers may have chosen not to work with you any more, because what you do isn’t what they want. I know this can be hard to face up to, but face up to it. Pushing water up hill isn’t easy, go for the customers who have a stronger alignment with you.

3. Now go back and look again at what your lapsed customers want

Make sure you pay attention to the detail of what your customers want and how they describe it. Then think about your proposition and make sure your descriptions will resonate with them.

4. Get started

Chances are if you have a large number of customers you want to re-engage with, you’ll now be thinking about the kind of content that may interest them. You are now figuring out your content marketing strategy. It’s all about creating interesting (to your customer, not you!) content (video, blog, stories for the media, social, etc.) that they can respond to and be reminded of your existence.

5. Don’t hit with a hard sell from the off

If you want to re-engage, do that. Engage, don’t sell. Selling comes later, once you’ve warmed your prospects up. For now, you want them to see you as knowledgeable, helpful, and worth picking up the phone to, so leave the hard sell for a while. Build a relationship. Smile. It’ll pay off.

6. Be patient

And so we’re back to point 1. This all takes time. If you’re in a hurry, sure, pick up the phone, let them say “no” and destroy your chance to re-engage in a way that adds value – that’s fine by me. But if you want customers who are excited about picking up the phone to you, then consider some of the above and let me know how it goes.

 

Crisis Management – 5 quick communications tips

Crisis Management – 5 quick communications tips

 

No-one likes to talk about the times when things go wrong. But, it happens to us all, whether it’s a marketing or communications issue, or a wider operations or general business process failure. Whether for reasons beyond our control, or not, the trick to crisis management lies in the preparation you’ve done before and plans you have laid in place to handle the unexpected.

Now, there are many forms your preparation may take and it is of course entirely dependent on the nature of your business as to the amount of time and effort you may wish to put into such preparation. One thing’s for sure – at some point you’re going to have to deal with questions about the issue – whether from staff, customers, or other stakeholders, or increasingly due to the nature of social media these days, maybe a query from a journalist or two, so planning how you will stay on top of the issue and communicate about it is a worthwhile exercise. Here are some simple tips:

1. Know what’s going on – get your team together regularly throughout the incident and keep a good record of what’s happening and decisions made
2. Appoint a spokesperson and make sure they’re briefed
3. Be prepared to apologise if it’s your fault
4. Think about what you can do to make reparations for those affected by what has occurred
5. Once you’ve had a chance to examine the cause, be clear on what you are doing to prevent a repeat.

It’s obvious that when you’re in the middle of a situation keeping your head can be difficult, but remaining objective and calm will help those around you and together you will get through to better times ahead.

Lessons from FIFA comms

Lessons from FIFA comms

The latest uproar about FIFA is another opportunity to learn from their media management.

It was interesting to see the Director of Comms giving a press briefing yesterday. It’s not often you see such a figure doing the  press briefing at a time like this.  However, with so much going on with individuals in the organisation it’s not altogether surprising and suggests that several may well have chosen to duck that particular opportunity for a profile piece to the world’s media!

The content of his interview was telling. It certainly seems that there were some interesting shenanigans going on in the run up to bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. When faced with such a challenge as a comms person it can be hard to find a way through and an appropriate way to position what is happening especially with investigations going on. Say too much and you can open up more questions which you aren’t in a position to answer; say nothing and you’re accused of closing ranks and covering up. It’s a thankless position to be in if you’re the messenger.

However, to come out and claim it’s a good day for FIFA is slightly over-egging it in anyone’s book. Clearly there is an opportunity to root out any wrong-doers that there may be, but this should of course have happened a long time ago – it really shouldn’t need an FBI investigation to do it. Of course, he can’t sit there and say it’s a disaster, but a little more contrition would help everyone to see that they really do want to get to the bottom of everything.

He also has to deal with the fact that his boss clearly wants to ignore what’s happening and continue with the election of the President, which at a time like this does seem somewhat arrogant. I do suspect that a request from him to hold off on that activity at this time would simply fall on deaf ears.

I, like many, will be intrigued to see the outcome of the investigation and in the meantime the outcome of the Presidential election at FIFA becomes a little more interesting than it otherwise might have been!

Strategy needs context not another strategy!

Strategy needs context not another strategy!

This week I’ve seen a few references to a new piece of work by the Boston Consulting Group’s all about how your strategy needs a strategy – they’ve even given it their own hashtag.

Now, I generally have a lot of respect for BCG. They understand certain industry sectors very well and have some top class consultants, however, with this new position paper they seem to have taken their lead from the school of rather ridiculous headlines.

What they say underneath the fluff is fair enough, but it’s not rocket science, not new and is pretty much a case of the emperor’s new clothes.

So what does their #strategyneedsstrategy mean?

In essence what they’re saying is that when you develop the strategy for your business, you need to consider the environment / marketplace in which you operate, your available resources and the proposition you offer to the marketplace. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do loads of research, you probably know your market pretty well if you’ve been operating in it for a while. What it does mean though, is that you have to consider the things that are happening or may happen and listen to your customers. It is possible to predict what your customers will want – Steve Jobs was famed for this approach, but he didn’t do his thinking in total isolation – he understood the psyche of the consumers of his products and put that to work with his ideas and the capability of the technology he could develop.  Frankly, in my opinion, if you attempted to develop a business strategy without looking at the market and your resources you’d be nuts anyway!

A strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. The tactics you employ may be, but if a strategy can’t be articulated in less than a few minutes, the chances are it’s not a strategy, it’s a plan.

So does a strategy need a strategy? Not really  – it needs to consider the external market and internal business factors that will influence it. I’d say it’s more a case of #strategyneedscontext

The importance of Emily Davison and Emmeline Pankhurst

The importance of Emily Davison and Emmeline Pankhurst

As a father of three daughters I have a new found and growing interest in women’s rights and the issues that may affect my girls as they grow. So, it was with interest that I listened to a friend of mine recently tell me that her great aunt was Emmeline Pankhurst. This friend was interested to know whether I knew who Pankhurst was, as she was surprised by how few people she had met who actually didn’t, including a number of teachers.

Now, I believed I did know who she was, but as it happens I turned out to be incorrect, though I was at least in the right ballpark. I had thought that Pankhurst was the suffragette who had thrown herself under the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913 but my friend explained that she was actually the leader of the British suffragette movement and it was another suffragette, Emily Davison, who was the person who had thrown herself under the King’s horse.

Having been reminded of this snippet of information I’ve decided to share it and this blog piece is my own small way of attempting to remind and inform some of my readers of these important women and the role they played in making life more equal for women.

It has been much debated whether the actions of Emily Davison that day did much for moving women’s rights forwards, but it is fair to say that it was the kind of action that got noticed. It raised the profile of an issue, with the kind of audience who this individual wanted paying attention and it created a memorable story (even if the names aren’t accurately remembered) for those who heard about it later.

I know that issues of women’s rights can still engender fierce debate these days, not least in the online communities many of us spend time with, and it is my hope that the issue remains on the agenda, for as we can see all around us, there are still many times and places where women have to fight hard for some of the most basic of rights.

Image source: wikimedia commons