All posts by Wendy Dessler

Wendy is a super connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized marketing plans depending on the industry and competition.

Local Branding

How To Hire The Perfect Candidate

The U.S. unemployment rate has plummeted to right around 4 percent in recent weeks. And while that’s great news for the economy, it’s definitely not ideal if you’re trying to find the perfect candidate to fill a job at your company.

Whether you’re looking for someone to serve as a receptionist and greet visitors at the entrance to your office or you’re in search of a CEO with the right personality traits to be the face of your company, you’re likely finding it more difficult than ever to fill open jobs. Obtaining the right business skills is never an easy task, but when done properly they can really make a difference. There’s plenty of quality resources online like Businessstudynotes where you can get free exam material and see where you stand.

If you need a hand, here are some tips that will help you track down the perfect candidate for any position.

Create a Detailed Job Listing

The first thing you’ll need to do when trying to fill a position at your company is to create a job listing and post it on job sites. This job listing should serve two purposes:

  1. It should clearly outline the skills you want the perfect candidate to possess
  2. It should give all candidates a rundown on what your company is all about and what you have to offer to those seeking a job

This job listing should be as detailed as it can possibly be so that you only attract the right candidates for the position.

If you want candidates to have X amount of years working in your specific industry, you should include that. If you want them to have X amount of years of college education, you should include that, too. You should lay out exactly who you want your ideal candidate to be.

Additionally, you should provide interested candidates with what you’ll be looking for from the person who earns the job. You don’t want there to be any confusion in the future about what the job entails.

Avoid Setting Up Standard Job Interviews

Is there anything more boring than sitting down with a candidate and asking them a bunch of stock questions about their education and work experience? They’ll likely provide you with the same answers over and over again. It won’t give you a chance to find your perfect candidate if you take this approach.

Instead of going the standard route, how about taking a more creative approach to the interview process? You can:

  • Provide the best candidates for a job with a tour of your office or facility and ask them questions along the way
  • Invite the best candidates to lunch or dinner and pick their brains as you enjoy a meal together
  • Take a walk around the block and see how the best candidates interact with the outside world to give you a better idea of what kind of people they really are

While you will obviously need to get down to business at some point and ask the perfect candidates questions about themselves, that doesn’t mean it has to be done in your average interview setting. It also doesn’t mean you have to ask the same old interview questions.

Get as creative as you can with your questions and really get to know candidates before you narrow down your search. You will be doing yourself and your company a favor by going all out with your interview questions.

Place Candidates Into Real-World Scenarios

In addition to asking job candidates questions about themselves and their work experience, you should also try and put them into real-world scenarios and ask them how they would react to certain situations if they were hired by your company.

Role-playing is a great way to find out more about a person who has applied for a job. For example, if you’re trying to hire someone to be a magazine editor, you might ask them something like:

  • “You just got a big scoop from an anonymous source. The source told you that a famous celebrity is pregnant and ready to give birth any day. One of your coworkers tells you that you should write a story about it immediately and publish it on the magazine’s website. What do you do?”

The candidate won’t actually have to sit down at the computer and decide whether or not to write the story. But their answer will tell you a lot about what you can expect from them if and when they start working for you.

Give Candidates Optional Homework

There are more and more companies who are keeping the interview process open long after the actual interview ends.

If you really want to find out what a candidate is made of, send them home with a homework assignment and ask them to send it to you when they’re finished.

This will show how committed candidates are to a job, as many people will opt against doing additional work after an interview. These are the kinds of people you probably don’t want working at your company in the first place.

Ask Colleagues for Second Opinions

Once you have done all of your interviews and sifted through the choices you have, it will be time to narrow down your search.

Usually, there will be a handful of people who will stand out to you. Whether you liked the answers they gave during their interviews or they blew you away with the response they gave to your hypothetical workplace scenario, you’ll have a few favorites.

At that point, you should ask your colleagues to share their thoughts on specific candidates. You shouldn’t be trying to find the perfect candidate alone. Instead, you should trust those who work with you to lend a hand.

Sit down with a few colleagues and tell them about the best candidates. You might even want to bring those candidates in for second and third interviews with others in your company.

Your colleagues will be able to pick up on certain things you might have missed. It will be well worth your time to include them in the decision when searching for a perfect candidate.

Make Diversity a Priority in Your Hiring Practices

While you shouldn’t hire candidates based solely on gender or race, you do want to keep diversity in mind when trying to find the perfect candidate. You want to have people of all backgrounds working in your office or facility to make it the best it can be.

Diversity should be something you strive for, and it should also be something that is discussed at the highest levels of your company.

Always Check References Provided by Candidates

All employers ask candidates to include references when applying for a job. The majority of them then follow through and use those references during the hiring process.

But it’s kind of surprising to hear that not all employers check references. References can be an invaluable resource for companies hiring new employees.

Before you offer a job to someone who seems like the perfect candidate, you should call at least one of their professional references and ask questions like:

  • What was it like working with this person?
  • What did they bring to the job when you worked with them?
  • Did you have a pleasant experience working alongside them?
  • How did they improve your company’s culture?
  • Would you recommend them to another company looking to hire the perfect candidate for a job?

The answers you get when checking a person’s references will tell you just about everything you need to know about them. If the references hesitate to give a person a glowing review, you probably have a cause for concern.

Trust Your Gut Before Offering Someone a Job

There are going to be times when you interview someone and they look and sound like the perfect candidate.

They have the right education to do the job you need them to do. They have plenty of experience in your field. They might even have great references from their past employers.

Yet, for whatever reason, you still have this nagging suspicion that they just wouldn’t be the right person for the job.

While you obviously don’t want to overthink your decision and spend weeks and weeks trying to make it, you also don’t want to ignore any gut feelings you might have.

If you think someone might not be right for a position at the end of the interview process, try your best to confirm your suspicions. Go back and interview another reference or use social media to see what you can find about a candidate.

In 2018, there are so many ways that you can do extensive background checks on people to see if they’re definitely the best fit for a job. Use everything you have at your disposal to decide if you’ve found the perfect candidate.

And if you’re not convinced that’s the case, then keep looking until you find someone who is perfect for the position.

About the author:

Friddy Hoegener is the Co-Founder of SCOPE Recruiting a boutique Supply Chain, Operations, and Executive recruiting firm. Friddy holds a Master of Social Entrepreneurship from HULT international business school in London, UK. He started his career in Supply Chain Management with ABB Germany before moving to the United States where he worked for Thomas and Betts as well as Kohler where he left a successful career in the supply chain to join the recruiting world. Today, Friddy and his team utilize their networks and knowledge to match some of the best supply chain and operations talent with exciting opportunities from Start-ups to Fortune500 companies.

Legal Branding

Auto Insurance As A Part of Everyday Life

If you live in the United States of America, chances are that auto insurance is part of everyday life, at least for car owners. Driving a car is a privilege which comes with some sorts of responsibilities in the form of auto insurance policies.

Proof of insurance is basically an indicator that you are willing to take responsibility for your driving and you care about other drivers’ safety and welfare. Most states in the country make auto insurance compulsory; similar to a driver license; you must be an auto insurance policyholder to be considered the legal driver.

There are, however, several states where auto insurance is not state-mandated requirements including New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and California. 

New Hampshire

Since 2010, residents of New Hampshire are no longer required to purchase auto insurance. This regulation applies to any driver who has not been involved in a road accident, convicted of DWI (driving while intoxicated), or convicted of any serious traffic violation.

However, if you are involved in any road accident, you have to be responsible for covering damages both for bodily or property injuries. If you cannot fulfill this responsibility, the state will probably revoke your driver license. In other words, your responsibility is required only in the event of an accident; you do not have to pay a premium fee, but you need to cover all the damages for the injured party when required.

Viking insurance company of Wisconsin 

There is no compulsory law requiring drivers to purchase auto insurance in Wisconsin, but the state does require you to prove responsibility is some other ways.

You can do this by placing a cash deposit of $60,000 with the WisDOT (Wisconsin Department of Transportation) as liability insurance for vehicles or filing a bond with the department. If in any case, a police officer stops you while you are driving, the officer will check to determine if you have any of those. 

California

California has similar regulations to those of Wisconsin. Drivers can prove their responsibility not by purchasing insurance but simply covering for damages in which case they are at fault in road accidents. The compensation can reach up to $30,000 for injury or death in a single accident.

For property damage, the compensation can reach up to $5,000. Since you do not have to purchase insurance, you should place a deposit of $35,000 or file a bond of that amount with California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Although insurance is indeed not compulsory in some states, drivers are still required to be responsible and prove it by covering damages of the injured party in the event of accidents. Proof of financial responsibility can be done by placing deposit or filing bond with the state.

Digital Branding

Business Process Automation and It’s Importance

Today, when there is an ever growing and vast competition, businesses (especially the small ones) come and go. That’s why every business owner is reluctant to invest time and money in something that is not absolutely necessary or undoubtedly sure it will pay off. One of the biggest talks in a past few years was about business process automation and whether it’s worth trying.

Like in every automation process, the goal of BPA is to bring simplicity to the workflow. Even the most sophisticated process has a number of complex steps that seem pretty useless at the same time. Unfortunately, even the most unessential steps need to be done, and that is where BPA comes in. It is an innovative and hands-free approach that makes a systematization of the business processes that are critical, increasing your employee’s efficiency and thus reducing cost and saving money. That’s why professionals from Picnet IT Services with more than 15 years of experience have embraced it so quickly, aware that it will help them to continue providing real stability and strategic growth they’re known for. The benefits of BPA go far beyond the saving the time and the effort of your staff, but this is still the most valuable benefit that allows other to emerge. Let’s see how shall we?

Chinese whispers

There is nothing that can destroy a business so quickly as a lack of communication. And we’re not talking about employees holding grudges and not speaking to one another, but rather about very complex channels of communication that feel like a game of Chinese whispers. If the business is a kind of game, it certainly shouldn’t be a funny one where the laugh is on you. And this is precisely what happens. Let’s say you have a very simple task at hand – to make an add for some upcoming event. There are design and information – time, date, and location.  So, your marketing manager receives an email with information for his approval. But right after he begins to scroll down he begins to realize it’s actually an email chain where who knows how many people have made their suggestions, revisions, and edits. Naturally, he can’t make sense of it all and inevitably some of the information ends up completely wrong.  The worst thing is that no one knows where the error has occurred along the way, which makes it quite probable it will happen again. Although it seems absurd, it’s a reality in modern business – communication breakdown can prevent the execution of the simple tasks, without anyone who’ll take accountability.

An unforeseen typo

The example above clearly shows us that a large number of errors in document processing are actually user-generated. When you have to input your data manually you can make mistakes as easily as you can make a typo, but consequences can be much greater. But if you employ business process automation you can forget about manual data entry. The moment the document is in the system all the information is transferred to a digital database automatically, which provides 100 % accurate data management and indexing. So, besides saving countless hours, it is like having your personal business Grammarly which eliminates all typing mistakes that can otherwise bring some hefty fines.

On hold

Of course, avoiding user-generated error is not the only reason to employ BPA.  By letting machines do all the perpetual tasks you’re not only eliminating the chance of human error, but you’re also simplifying the lives of your employees in general. Let’s go back to our example to see what has been happening with the design aspect of the add.  After the designer has completed his work, he needs to send an image via email for approval (déjà vu, anyone?) and he needs to mark his task done on a spreadsheet that probably no one looks at. After our unfortunate marketing manager approves it he needs to pass it on to the web technician who will, in the end, upload it to the site. All these manual steps require a lot of pushing for each item, which makes it feel like you’ve put on hold only to wait for an information you’ve already known about.  The only process here that needs to be done by a human is the design itself, and the quality can suffer under the weight of numerous notifications and approvals. By routing digital files or sending out email updates, BPA will noticeably reduce the time it takes for an employee to complete his daily tasks, allowing him to concentrate on important decisions in his field and thus boost his productivity.

Your personal rulebook

As we’ve said it in the beginning, business is a kind of game, but a game with high stakes where the winner literally takes it all. That’s why you need to have operational stability, and that is precisely what BPA implements in your daily processes. It is like having the rigid rulebook of the game set by yourself, making sure not a single document is misplaced or a single step missed. You can look at it as a form of legal cheating which allows your employees to perform their tasks easily and making the game constant, dependable, and accurate.

Endgame – the conclusion

At the very end, there is always a customer. He’s the last link in your Chinese whispers and he’s not in for a laugh. BPA creates a consistency that ensures customers will receive the same level of care with every interaction. With all their specific account information ready to be pulled from the digital database any second the business of your company becomes far more user-friendly. Paper-based file management is removed, employee efficiency is increased, and top-notch service is guaranteed.

Author Bio:

Ian

Aside from primary area of interest and expertise in e-marketing, Ian could be tagged also as a passionate sports fan, nature, and photography enthusiast, always trying to keep up to date with tech innovations and development.

Digital Branding

Why Your Brand Needs SEO in 2018

SEO has got something of a bad rap in some corners in recent years. This is a wholly undeserved state of affairs. Search engine optimization is an essential aspect of contemporary web design. In a world where everyone is online all the time, and when we think of everything we need as being just a web search away, it is clearly important for any website that wants to generate significant traffic to be listed prominently in results.

But how can website owners control where they appear in Google search results? Well, it turns out that website owners actually have a lot of control over this. As you would expect, some of the metrics that Googles uses to determine results rankings are based upon organic measures. Organic measures are things like the number of other websites that link to yours; these links will happen naturally as your website grows.

How Can It Help my Brand?

SEO is an integral part of your business so keep a close eye on the online SEO tools you choose. It is also a vital resource for businesses who are looking to promote their brand. SEO is one of the most effective marketing methods out there, offering a fantastic ROI, and a guarantee of a dramatic increase in brand awareness. The more traffic that you are able to bring to your websites, the more people will become exposed to your brand and business.

If you want your brand to take over the marketplace, exposure is the key. The more consumers are exposed to your brand, the more they will think of you. It doesn’t matter what context they encounter your business in – all except the most catastrophically bad press will ultimately bounce off most businesses.

Traffic is the Lifeblood of Website

There are many different metrics that you can use to measure how healthy a website is, but the amount of traffic that it is generating is usually the best indicator. From the perspective of a business looking to maximize exposure to their brand, being able to maximize the flow of traffic to particular websites and web pages is important. This allows you to expose as many people as possible to the media and content of your choosing.

Traditionally, the way that businesses have exposed as many consumers as possible to their brand has been to aim for saturation with their advertising. Saturation involves simply putting adverts out as far and wide as possible so that as many people see it as possible. Even if the advert is only successful in enticing a small percentage of people into buying a product or using a particular service, the sheer number of people will translate into tangible profits.

Is It Difficult?

SEO is often thought of as “difficult”. This is because most SEO used to involve manipulating Google. Google now offers guidance on what it considers to be white-hat – or approved – SEO techniques. As a result, there are now professional businesses who will help you with your SEO marketing, such as this Search Engine Optimisation West Midlands business.

Search engine optimization is a very valuable tool for increasing awareness of your brand and spending time and money on SEO is all but guaranteed to provide excellent ROI.

Digital Branding

Please Stop Confusing Customers With Your Pricing

It is a criminal offence for traders to deliberately make misleading price claims about their goods or services and against the letter of the law to make prices confusing to the consumer.

For example, ‘was £120, now £99.99’ is deceiving if the goods or services have never been presented at the higher price. It is also misleading/confusing if a trader fails to show ‘hidden extras’, or to make it clear when a price is conditional on, say, another purchase.

The Competition Markets Authority have stated that some unit prices and particularly promotions have the worrying potential to mislead customers  – and could even be a breach of consumer law.  This came after a complaint from consumer group Which? who raised concerns ‘about confusing and misleading promotions and a lack of easily comparable prices’.

Some retailers are guilty of increasing the price of products prior to the start of a volume promotion and promotions such as ‘was/now’ offers, where a product is on sale at a discounted price for longer than the higher price was applied, is considered to be deliberately misleading consumers.

Supermarkets (the main culprits) could now face legal proceedings for confusing customers with non-transparent multi-buys, “deceptive” shrinking products and baffling discounts, the CMA has announced.  Supermarkets are now under surveillance to revise their current pricing practices or face being taken to court, with all the ensuing adverse publicity that will involve.

The CMA has called for new guidelines to be issued to supermarkets and has published its own ‘at a glance’ guide to help consumers.  However, the complaints still keep coming into the Retail Ombudsman  – and the current rules are only guidelines, not hard and fast legal obligations.

So, consumers are still likely to get angry about any attempt to pull the wool over their eyes.

Currently, around 40% of grocery spending is on items on promotion – and (good news) the vast majority of these are above board, says the CMA.  However, there is definitely a lack of regulation in this area and the CMA states that consumers should never be misled or confused about how much (or how little) they are getting for their money.

It stated that ‘unit pricing’ allowing comparisons between products needed to be made more clear-cut.  As an example, some similar products in supermarkets were priced per 100ml and others per 100g, making it impossible to make a price comparison.  Is this artful deception on behalf of the supermarkets?  Surely they should make it less complicated for the shopper to compare like for like?

Generally, retailers do take compliance seriously but the CMA has called for supermarkets to end the practice of running “was/now” promotions, where the discounted price is advertised as a promotion for longer than the higher price, was employed.

The CMA also wants the Government to introduce new standards about “unit prices”, which indicate to shoppers what the price of a single item is in a multi-pack so they can compare prices more easily and decide whether it really is cheaper to buy the multi-pack.

According to new research from Which? almost 3/4 of consumers believe supermarkets are trying to confuse them by using misleading pricing practices – and shoppers are very unhappy about the following:

  • Poorly labeled products
  • Prices small and hard to read
  • Inconsistent pricing.

The greatest confusion occurs with fruit and vegetables sold loose or in packs but it extends to other products sold in cans, jars and bottles.

Which? has called for a change in the law requiring retailers to clearly display the price of items per unit, so that shoppers can easily compare the value of similar products. The unit price is the price by weight or volume that allows shoppers to compare the true cost of products, even if they come in different sized packaging.

As an example, if a 500ml jar of mayonnaise costs £1.05 and a 750ml jar is £1.47, a clear unit price would show you straight away which jar gives you the most mayonnaise for your money. In this case, the 500ml jar is 21p per 100ml and the 750ml jar is 19.6p per 100 ml. The current confusion caused by inconsistent pricing means shoppers don’t always get the best deal

Most shoppers usually assume that items sold loose would be cheaper but this is not necessarily the case – for example a Sainsbury’s pack of four baking potatoes is currently being sold at 70p, while the supermarket also sells them loose at £1.00 per kg.

It is also confusing for shoppers when the prices for different brands of comparable products are measured differently – one price may be displayed in ml and the other in grams.  The regulators have called for consistency in weights and measures for comparable products.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd has said:

“With household budgets squeezed and rising food costs among the top worries for consumers, it’s all the more important that stores make it as easy as possible for people to spot the best value products. All food and drink should be clearly and consistently priced by weight or volume across all stores, including products which are on special offer.”

 

Morrisons has subsequently announced a promise to make unit prices consistent among similar products and to make the print on shelf labels larger and more visible.

Sainsbury’s has also announced that it will be trialling a new label format, which will include clearer unit pricing, to assist customers to identify the best deals.

Non-Food Pricing

When selling to the general public, all pricing information must be clearly legible, unambiguous, easily identifiable, in sterling, and inclusive of VAT and any additional taxes.

Pricing information must be shown close to the product, or in the case of, for example, online or mail order sales and advertisements, close to a picture or written description of the product.

Prices can be shown:

  • On goods themselves
  • On a ticket or notice adjacent to the goods
  • Grouped together with other prices on a list or in a catalogue in close proximity to the goods. If counter catalogues are used there should be enough copies for customers to refer to

Pricing information should be clearly available to consumers without them having to ask for assistance in order to see it.

Legibility refers to a consumer with normal sight. Traders must also comply with the Equality Act 2010 and take account of the special needs of the elderly and disabled groups.

Promotions

Promotional offers should be unit-priced to reflect the single standard product.

Retailers may give additional information if they wish (for example, the ‘reduced unit price if purchasing a multi-buy’ offer may be shown) as long as it is clear to which products it relates.

Limited period promotions (such as 10% extra free) that relate to individual products may retain the unit price of the standard product for the period of the offer. Retailers may give additional information if they wish – for example, they may show the unit prices of both the standard and promotional products but they must be crystal clear to which products they relate.

Make sure your prices are also ethical

The Institute of Business Ethics has suggested that companies issue statements of ethical practice in regard to their dealings with customers – and this will cover pricing too.

The statement should incorporate a declaration about what circumstances will make your company increase their prices and by how much, how prices should be conveyed to the consumer and the company’s allegiance to all applicable pricing laws. The ethical pricing statement will need to be kept up to date to ensure all fresh guidelines are adhered to.

It really doesn’t make any sense to confuse your customers with your pricing. Eventually, they will get wise to what you are (deliberately or otherwise) trying to do and will vote with their feet by taking their business elsewhere.

Indeed, Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, said the complaint from Which? about confusing pricing had come too late as many shoppers have already abandoned the big 4 supermarkets in favour of discounters Aldi and Lidl.

It will always be sensible to price transparently because consumers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to comparing prices – and it might just be that what you are doing, at best, is at variance with the letter of the law – or could even be downright illegal.  Do not take that risk.

 

This article has originally appeared on Black Curve’s Blog.

Legal Branding

Benefits Of Business Commissioning

Commissioning for business has a number of benefits in many areas of work. 

As per the definition, it is the process by which an equipment, facility, or plant (which is installed or is complete or near completion) is tested to verify if it functions according to its design objectives or specifications.

This post aims to show you how it can benefit you.

Tenant/Owner

1. Performance criteria are established and benchmark goals are verified.

2. The working environment is improved including lighting levels and indoor air quality.

3. Lifecycle building costs are reduced.

4. Documents clearly project process.

5. Minimizes disputes among all parties in both the design and construction processes.

6. Establishes operation and maintenance policies.

7. Baseline expectations for the Owner’s Program Requirements are identified.

8. Represents the interests of the Owner independent of the contracting teams and design.

Facility Managers

1. Equipment post-warranted is verified

2. Improves installed systems documentation

3. Documented testing procedures verify building controls and operations of systems

4. Verifies that staff training goals have been achieved

5. Maintenance schedules are established

Design Team

1. Verifies benchmark goals and establishes performance criteria

2. Lifecycle building costs are reduced

3. Project processes are clearly documented

4. Disputes between all parts involved in the construction and design processes are minimized

5. Establishes operation and maintenance policies

6. Baseline expectations for the Owner’s Program Requirements are identified

7. Represents the interest of the Owner independent of the contracting teams and design

Contractors

1. Warranty calls backs from field issues are reduced

2. Punchlist items are minimized when the project ends

3. Contract documents are reviewed for bidding that is more competitive

If you want more tips on commissioning then read this post from Quanta.

Local Branding

The Best Of Corporate Twitter & Why You Should Follow Them

Clicking on Facebook, your email, Buzzfeed and then back to Facebook gets old. It’s a modernized version of Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. Refreshing the same pages on a continuous loop expecting an update is an act of workplace futility that few can survive. Eventually boredom sets in. Before you start to go loco with ennui, it’s time to add Twitter to your list of websites. The only problem is that there are 100 million daily active users and most of them aren’t worth a follow. Lucky for you, this list can direct you to an unusual but great source of entertainment during your work day: corporate twitter.

Corporate isn’t always a sad and desolate place. These seven corporate accounts find a time to be funny in between slinging their wares and keeping their hashtag game strong.

1. Old Spice

It’s not just your grandpa’s cologne anymore. In an explosive social media campaign that included TV commercials, online videos, and its Twitter page, Old Space has catapulted itself into the 21st century as a brand to follow. Best known for its surreal viral commercials featuring former NFL athlete Isaiah Mustafa, Old Spice managed to capture the fun and fantastical branding in all its social media accounts. To use its own words taken from its bio, @OldSpice delivers on MUSCLES. SMELLS. LAZERS. COUPONS. GIFS.

Most notable tweet?

Not content to stay in its lane, @OldSpice took a break from its regularly scheduled content to chirp at Taco Bell. It took umbrage that Taco Bell’s fire sauce didn’t contain the actual fire, claiming it was false advertisement. What followed incited a Twitter “war” between the two brands. The exchange was worthy of a chuckle for those scrolling through Twitter in the hopes of wasting some time at work.

2. Denny’s

Whoever runs Denny’s social media has tapped into the uncanny atmosphere its restaurants have around 4 am on a Saturday night. Usually bizarre and always funny, the Denny’s Twitter is an irreverent page devoted to pancakes, syrup, and the dankest memes this side of the web. Half digital marketing, half shit post generator, @DennysDinerrevolutionized the chain’s online presence. With 448,000 followers (one of whom, most recently, is the always meme-able band, Smash Mouth), the brand established its cultural relevance within the youngest Millennials and Generation Z.

Most notable tweet?

@DennysDiner created its own version of the Zoom in on the Nose meme with a picture of what looks like a stack of pancakes. Completely normal for a diner that serves up breakfast foods 24/7, but the punchline isn’t what you would expect from the diner chain. Or maybe it is if you spend any time on their Twitter. Click here to see what secret Denny’s hid in its pic.

3. dbrand

Graduating from the class of under 500k followers, we move to the big leagues with a company that’s broken its first million followers. With 1.36 million followers and counting, @dbrand is the next corporate handle you have to check out. Run by @robot, dbrand’s social media page is the only bot you’ll want to follow you. Too bad that will never happen, considering @dbrand doesn’t care about us, foolish humans. When it’s not making made-to-measure decals for the hottest devices (what the company calls skins), it’s carving out a presence online with its punchy, glib, and tongue-in-cheek posts that serve The Truth™ with a side of humor.

Most notable tweet?

Last March, Nintendo released its Switch console, and dbrand was quick to create a set of Switch skins for the system that its loyal followers could pre-order. Unfortunately, within a few days of its release, the skin provider realized its adhesive didn’t play nice with the console. As a result, they posted a series of tweets to explain the situation and notify its customers all pre-orders were canceled and refunded. Despite what @robot has to say about the human race, this good guy move proves dbrand’s worth a follow.

4. Wendy’s

Don’t let Wendy’s profile pic fool you. That sweet grin and pigtails hide a sharp tongue that’s ready to lash anyone it finds lacking. After a long time spent answering complaints with sincere apologies towing the customer service line, @Wendy’s lost all its chill. Patience snapped, the social media team revealed a quick and biting wit they were willing to unleash at a moment’s notice, dragging Twitter’s worst. Its 2.46 million followers await the next roast, usually at the cost of @MacDonalds as @Wendys insults, incites, and antagonizes its rival hamburger chain almost daily.

Most notable tweet?

Though Wendy’s serves up roasts with a side of fries, perhaps the most savage one was when a Twitter user accused the fast-food chain of delivering its burgers raw on a hot truck. @Wendy’s took no time at all to respond, dragging its accuser by implying they forgot refrigerators existed.

So the next time the post-lunch boredom hits your workday, open a new tab and follow these accounts. It might not solve the fact you’re working doing something you hate, but the best of corporate Twitter might make your corporate time go by faster.

Legal Branding

Don’t Miss Out On Business In Countries With Bad Reputations

Say you’re a value-added reseller (VAR) who wants to broaden your reach and grow your profits by expanding into foreign markets. You’ve heard horror stories about the seizure of every item in Brazil. You’ve caught word that India is highly protective of their local production and has begun raising duty on certain imports. But is throwing up your hands and giving up on huge markets the wisest choice for you?

Below are a few examples of tricky nations in which it can be a challenge to do business, as well as some important tips on what you can do to expand your presence in any country – including how to reduce costs when importing items and making smart partnerships to maximize efficiency.

Brazil

South America is appealing to IT manufacturers and VARs because of its large population and growing consumer middle class. Brazil is the eighth largest economy in the world, but shoppers often complain about their goods getting seized and stuck at customs. Brazil requires multiple tax ID numbers to be registered there. Firms spend many man hours filing the tax forms required. Rumors of corruption and items ‘disappearing’ certainly aren’t encouraging, either. Hearsay? If true, is it worth the hassle?

Russia

They have some of the lowest electricity bills in Europe – appealing for a VAR pushing a variety of hardware – but it also takes businesses several months to get an electricity connection.The country has a bad reputation for the time it takes to export goods, but if you’re the seller, this isn’t a problem. American companies face troubles trying to export to the nation because of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers making it difficult to ship some goods, e.g., alcohol. In 2014, U.S. food and agricultural exports were banned after Crimea’s annexation.

Indonesia

It’s incredibly hard to start a new business here because of the 1.5 month minimum launching time for a new business. Infrastructure issues cause many new companies’ hopes to crumble. They’re begging for investors to drop billions in their bucket. They do have some appealing natural resources like coal that has caught China’s eye. Some of these issues are potential problems for new businesses to set-up shop, but are they necessarily a problem for your company’s specific expertise and products?

So what?

If a country has a bad reputation for doing business, you’re automatically going to have decreased competition because of the number of lazy companies who will check out. The nation’s problems might not have much to do with your goods, either. Often people won’t take their time to look into rules and regulations before they spread bad word-of-mouth. There’s a simple way to handle much of this –get an expert to do it for you.

Hands down, the best choice you can make if you want to expand globally into any country is partnering with an importer of record (IOR). TecEx, for example, has a long record and presence in any country where you might want to conduct business. How can an IOR help? Well, to start, you might be legally required to use one. They’ll look after all required import permits and arrange brokerage, clearance, and local delivery to your destination. There’s no need to worry about import compliance and your shipment will clear smoothly through customs. It’s also important to find an importer of record who can provide full tax recovery services for all of the indirect taxes incurred. TecEx specializes in shipping electronics and IT equipment abroad, and these items usually suffer import VAT, customs taxes, co-location taxes, and taxes on purchasing local goods.

Some nations might be tricky to conduct business in; however, if you make smart partnerships with companies who can streamline the process, and if you do some research into whether these nations are actually troublesome for your specific type of business and product, you’ll find the barriers were just a smokescreen, providing your partner with the right IOR services.

Digital Branding

Low Budget Marketing Ideas to Make Your Small Business Big

Here are some tips on low budget marketing ideas – Marketing is crucial to the success of any business, but many smaller startups neglect this important aspect due to the high expenses involved, and for any business operating on a shoestring budget; marketing is often the first expense to be slashed. You know the old saying, “You have to spend money to make money,” and despite its cliché nature, it is still absolutely true. That said, there are ways to grow your small business without breaking the bank, and marketing doesn’t necessarily need to cost a fortune, although it does require a certain amount of creativity. Check out these low budget marketing ideas to make your small business big, in no time at all.

Start being social

There is no excuse for not using social media to promote your business. These days, social media is one of the best ways to engage your customers and get the word out about your products and services, and best of all, it’s free! If you are avoiding it because you aren’t sure how to use it, learn the ropes by joining social media marketing classes in your city or online. Once you get started, you’ll wonder why you didn’t jump on the bandwagon sooner.

Offer freebies

It’s no secret that people love free things, and most businesses have some services or products they can offer for free without putting too much of a dent in the company bank account. Promotions, like giving customers a free consultation, rewarding loyal customers with a free item after a certain number of visits or handing out sample products, will put your business in the spotlight and get new customers hooked. Just make sure the free products are a good representation of the quality you offer on a regular basis, or it may not have the desired effect of drawing in new customers.

Encourage satisfied customers to spread the word

Whether your company is a new start-up or a well-established business looking to expand, word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most powerful advertising tools there is. If you can consistently provide your current customers with excellent customer service and high-quality products, they will want their friends and family to try it as well. New businesses can easily get away with asking satisfied customers to spread the word, and well-established companies can ask their most loyal customers to put in a good word for them. Another way to encourage word of word-of-mouth advertising is to reward customers for every friend or family member they bring to your store or place of business. This can be in the way of a discount, gift card or freebie.

Don’t try to compete with the big companies

Even if you are hoping to one day compete with the big boys, there is no point trying to match their advertising strategies until you are on the same level. Major companies like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s are already well-known and don’t have to prove themselves. Their advertisements and company logos are largely meant to increase name recognition and larger companies use national and even international TV adverts, which is something smaller businesses can’t afford and don’t really need. Target your advertisements to the local market and focus on producing sales rather than just making your company name big. The best time to advertise is when you have a promotion on because it gives customers the opportunity to respond to the advertisement. Spread the word through whatever means are available to you, be it social media, flyers, posters or billboards, but never spend more money than your promotion can hope to bring in.

Get creative with business cards

Business cards are still commonplace in the world of small business, and you shouldn’t discount their usefulness just yet. Providing customers with a quick way to contact you is an excellent way to ensure that you will be first on their list when they need one of your products or services. The main downside to business cards is that most people toss them out before long because let’s face it, no one likes clutter. If you don’t want your business cards to end up in the rubbish bin, you have to make them useful. Business cards don’t always have to be cards, you can have refrigerator magnets or nice looking notepads made up that show off your company name and information while serving a purpose as well. Little post-it notes with your info on each page are sure to get some use, and the customer will see your name every time they use them to stick up a reminder. Other great “business card” ideas can include things like bottle openers, lighters or pens. Use your imagination and come up with your own functional items that can be used to spread the word.

Make your business a destination

If you run a physical store, it can be a good idea to offer some extras that make your shop more than just a quick stopover. Some stores offer free child-care or play facilities where parents can bring their kids while they shop, others offer cafeterias or coffee bars, where customers can relax before continuing their shopping. This is a great way of ensuring that people will stop at your store, even if they weren’t initially planning on buying anything.

Author Bio:

Sohail is a content marketer and a blogger, currently, he is associated with Smiletutor.sg a private tuition agency in Singapore. His hobbies include writing, reading books, traveling and gardening.

Digital Branding

Close the Gap Between Strategy & Execution

When conducting strategic planning with clients I have a saying that I share with them, “Successful Business Execution is 20% getting clear about what needs to be done, and 80% following up to make sure it actually gets done”

I’ve written previously about the cadence of strategy execution, using the analogy of a great rowing crew in action. The boat glides through the water, propelled by oars moving in perfect rhythm. It may be the most graceful example of teamwork in the world. In rowing, the cadence drives the crew, keeping them in sync and urging them on when they may be tired and sore.

Cadence does the same thing for great companies, except that, instead of a coxswain calling cadence, leaders like you use meetings to establish the rhythm of work. The best meetings:

  • Create and update your winning strategy
  • Execute your strategy faster
  • Drive accountability
  • Identify opportunities and remove bottlenecks faster
  • Keep staff aligned and focused

On a related note, a research article in HBR explored how high performing teams spend their time, and the critical behaviors in which they engaged. Here’s my take on the research data, with some additional commentary added:

Focus On Strategy

High performing teams:

  • Spend 20% more time defining and clarifying their long-term strategic moves
  • Spend 12% more time texting or collaborating with their staff on an ongoing basis to make sure the strategic direction is understood and adhered to

That means high performing teams spend more time understanding their industry and getting their strategy right first, and they talk about their strategy more often with staff to keep everyone aligned and engaged.

one-page strategic plan is probably the best way to clearly communicate the strategy to staff and get everyone on the same page. This is especially true if your strategic goals cascade down to the goals of each team and staff member, so they can see exactly how their job contributes to the company’s strategy.

Break Strategy Into Actionable Goals

High performing teams:

  • Spend 14% more time discussing progress and making necessary corrections

In essence, once you figure out the right strategic goals to track, you would ideally make aligned performance visible on your management dashboard.

But that’s just the first step. You must follow up to make sure it actually gets done. Managers still need to coach and support their people to ensure they are achieving their required results and are meeting their deadlines consistently. Effective managers don’t procrastinate when it comes to giving people corrective feedback on their performance.

Align Culture with Strategy

The most effective managers I see in client firms are those who apply consistent pressure. They are firm but fair. That’s essential to modern management, and today’s A-players need clarity and accountability to feel satisfied at work.

High performing teams:

  • Spend 28% more time discussing behaviors that help or hinder strategy execution
  • Spend 33% more time optimizing talent capabilities

They align their Core Values with their strategy. They take talent management seriously. They provide forums for staff to share candid feedback about what does and doesn’t work, and put employee development and succession plans in place to develop a team with the right skills and behaviors.

Focus on Strategic Priorities

High performing teams:

  • Are 36% more effective and prioritizing and sequencing these initiatives, and they put a disciplined meeting structurein place to ensure the team has what it needs to succeed

Low performing teams:

  • Spend an astounding 83% more time fighting fires and dealing with issues at a tactical rather than a strategic level

High performing companies communicate in an organized way and focus their efforts on strategic objectives. That’s because strategy is about making choices. It‘s about going through a disciplined process to identify the limited set of projects that will have the biggest impact on future success. Then they focus on those projects.

Strategic Agility

High performing teams:

  • Are 20% more effective at responding to change in order to position the company for future success

In essence, changing fast to chase after opportunities is not a recipe for success. It’s a recipe for strategic incoherence and volatile performance. A winning strategy is not just about being agile, it’s about being “smart agile”. High performing companies win because they make wise strategic choices first, then they move fast to implement and build upon on those decisions.

My summary

High performing teams:

  • Spend more time strategizing and translating strategic decisions into actionable goals
  • Spend more time engaging with team members, communicating strategy, discussing progress, and making sure behaviors are aligned with strategic execution
  • Focus their resources (people, time, money) on strategic priorities and spend less time fighting fires

What steps can you take to close the gap between strategy and execution in your organization?

This post was written by Stephen Lynch from Results and it originally appeared on their blog on Dec 5th. Stephen is the author of the award-winning business book Business Execution for RESULTS & President of RESULTS.com, Lynch is widely recognized as one of the best strategic consultants in the world.