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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.

7 simple steps to successful digital transformation

7 simple steps to successful digital transformation

If you want to get digital and aren’t sure how, or have made some effort, but it’s not paying results, then here are some simple steps to help on that journey.

  1. Find out where your people hang out. Get to know where your ideal clients spend their time online. Do they use social at all? If they do, where do they go, what do they participate in and how do they participate?
  2. Listen first. Listening is just as important online as it is in the real world. Listen to what they say and how they say it. Do they shout about themselves or do they participate in conversations? Do they respond to their clients? Work out how they engage with other brands.
  3. Once you’ve got to know their online personalities, think about how you and your business could join in the conversation with them.
  4. Don’t gob off! Social media isn’t the place to go shouting like you’re at a used car sales lot. It’s a place for conversations. Join in the debate. Speak as you / your brand would speak.
  5. Me or my brand? Some Social media gurus will tell you that social media is all about people, so you should engage as the person, not the business. I think there are times and types of business where this is an appropriate approach, but for many engaging as the business is the right option, because you are able to remind people of who you are and your fans will love you for being the business and all that you stand for.
  6. Remember your tone of voice. Don’t be overly formal if that’s not who you are as a business. Be yourself and even if your account is in your company name you can let yourself shine through and even sign off with your name.
  7. And finally for now: be helpful. The best way to engage with people is to be helpful. Remember that we started by working out where your customers hang out and we listened. Well now we need to respond to their issues – even if the thing you’re being helpful with isn’t going to directly sell your business. By being helpful you build trust and trust goes a long way in the online and offline world.

I hope you found these tips useful on your journey to digital transformation – if you’d like to add any of your own, do comment below.

Lead generation for professional services companies

Lead generation for professional services companies

Differentiation – that’s the challenge faced by all professional services companies. What makes you any different from the rest of them? Invariably it comes down to the same thing – your people. Which is fine if you’re in front of a potential client – they can see your people, talk to them, understand their depth and breadth of knowledge. If you’re failing repeatedly at this stage, then you need to take a serious look at the people you have doing the pitch. But what if you can’t get in front of enough clients? That’s where marketing that makes you stand out will play a part.

What does that marketing need to look like? Well, here’s a one sentence marketing strategy for professional services businesses:

“Publish timely, relevant content for your audience that provides a credible demonstration of your breadth and depth of expertise and make it easy for potential clients to find you and get in touch.”

The first thing to note is that this isn’t about interrupting people. It’s about getting noticed by them as they go about their business and providing sufficient relevancy to make them take real note and contact you at a time that suits them. Let’s break this down a little further:

  • Publish: whether that’s yourself or via another channel, get your content out there, make sure there’s plenty of it
  • Timely and relevant: Hook into what’s going on in the market that your client operates in, make sure you do it when they’ll be paying attention
  • Content: Blog, press release, news story, video, podcast – whatever your choice of medium, let the story shine through
  • Your audience: this is about them not you – talk about what matters to them, what problems you solve for them, not how great you are
  • Credible: Your clients give you credibility, not your subjective opinion of yourself
  • Easy to get in touch: This is the key piece: by providing relevant content, you’ll get found more; by making it easy to get in touch, your customers will find you, and you won’t have to hound them down.

None of this is rocket science, but so many people fail to see the importance of getting these basics right.

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