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.

Establish your personal brand
Digital Branding

5 Steps To Building Your Personal Brand

Establish your personal brand

Developing your personal brand means establishing a good reputation, and influencing those around you. It takes years to build a reputation and it’s a lot of work to manage one, but it’s important if you want to build trust in your audience. This is why personal branding is crucial – your personal brand is your identity. A strong personal brand can provide you with greater credibility, higher perceived value and a way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Here are five steps to help you start building your personal brand:

Core values distinguish you

Establish Your Values

Your values are the cornerstone of your character. You might value loyalty, status or compassion – think about who you are and what’s important to you. Your values should always dictate your actions; this is how you build trust and grow your brand.

Connect with a mentor

Connect With A Mentor

Mentors can help you understand which direction it’s best to go in, especially if you haven’t had much experience. They can guide you and provide advice, but they can also show you what not to do. If you’re serious about building your personal brand, you need to get a mentor and establish a plan.

Provide value

Provide Value

Your personal brand is about your audience as much as it is about you. Think about what you can bring to the table, consider your values and how they can be used to shape people’s perceptions about you. Are you reliable? Friendly? Approachable? Make sure you communicate this through your writing and the way you speak. Think about the words you use and the image you portray.

Have a website

Have A Platform

Create a website and stay active on social media – but don’t use these to “sell” yourself or your services. Instead, use then to help people, to provide them with information they are looking for. Your website could be a blog, or you could create a YouTube channel where you speak on camera. Whatever you’re comfortable with is what’s going to work for you. If you enjoy public speaking, this is one of the best ways to promote yourself and build your brand. Start looking for opportunities to speak or be a guest speaker and get your name out there.

Differentiate your personal brand

Differentiate Yourself

The thing about brands is that they are unique – and it’s the same with your personal brand. You are an individual with your own strengths and weaknesses, and that’s what your brand should be. You can have idols and people to look up to, but it’s important to stay true to who you are, and align with the best version of yourself. With the skills you offer, you might want to figure out some ways that you are different from the competition, maybe you have more experience, or are the most efficient? Make sure you show people how you are different from the rest.

Building a personal brand takes time, so it’s always good to keep an eye out for opportunities where you can help people and put yourself out there. After a while, people will begin to associate you with the qualities you are striving for, and your personal brand will start to take form.

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 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.

Combine the best research techniques
Digital Branding

One Excel Sheet You’d Like To Put On Autopilot

What do all the entrepreneurs in the world, all the startup founders and each one of the big corporation CEOs have in common?

An excel sheet.

And what more?

An excel sheet they’d love to put on autopilot.

We’ve asked the business owners what’s their excel sheet they would love to have an autopilot.

Here’s what they’ve told us:

  1. “The one excel sheet we’d love to put on autopilot is a project tracker. We thrive on innovation at Wonolo, and are constantly brainstorming new and forward-thinking ideas to improve our work platform. Many of the unique functions on our platform spawned from so-called “throwaway” ideas that we nurtured to fruition.

    Once we decide to transform any idea into a real project, it’s important that we have a reliable means of tracking progress from start to finish. It would be great to test out an autopilot version of a project tracker excel sheet that organized all aspects of project tracking into relevant categories.

    Ideally, the project tracker would track each project’s: status, level of urgency, and rate of completion, as well as a comparison between when the project is envisioned to be completed and when it actually gets completed.

    This would no doubt help strengthen project management in a number of substantial ways. It would not only create greater accountability for all those involved, as the project’s progress would be consistently recorded and readily available for relevant parties to interpret. It would also lead to greater efficiency when the tracked data helps identify where resources would be better pooled, and which projects need more or less assigned time.”  Kristy Wen, Sr. Growth Marketing Manager at Wonolo

  2. “For me this would be prioritizing work for my team. It’s difficult keeping everyone working on top priority tasks. I wish there was an easier way to keep my team organized.
    An automated way of determining who should be assigned what task and how important it would be is what I need.” Patrick, TaskReports.com

    Have an idea of the excel sheet you’d like to put on autopilot? Shoot us an email or a comment and we’d be happy to get in touch with you and discuss that.

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.

Digital Branding

How to Build a Promotional Products Business From Scratch

T-shirts. Caps. Pens. USBs, Calendars.

Perhaps, you’ve received such items with company logos many times in your life and you remember the brand name imprinted on each of these items. For you, these are the free giveaways. But for companies, these promotional products are their ticket to score exponential sales.

That’s why businesses spend billions of dollars giving away promotional items to their potential and existing customers.

The businesses themselves don’t manufacture these items, of course.

So, who are the people behind it?

Here’s the answer: promotional product companies. While this is a unique business, what makes it more tempting is the level of lucrativeness if offers.

Interestingly, you can dive into building your own promotional products business. But before you begin, you should have ample knowledge of getting into it from scratch.

Wondering how to start off?

Let’s explore.

Gain Experience

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Why step into a business when you lack exposure to its overall industry?

To avoid risking your hard-earned money, it’s wise to gain some basic insights about this business. This requires you to work for someone else. This way, you’ll understand the promotional products business without incurring any cost. Plus, you’ll be getting paid while learning the intricacies of the business.

Once you’ve put in your time and efforts in the job, you’ll be able to explore if you have a passion to run your own business in the promotional products industry.

 

Explore Different Niches And Focus On One

Is it the entertainment promotions that interest you or do you want to begin with marketing materials or promotional items such as key chains, hand bands, and eco-friendly non-woven tote bags to display your clients’ logo?

Since this industry is vast, it’s impossible to focus on all subcategories as a first-timer. Therefore, it’s crucial to select a niche and go on with it. Before choosing a niche area, conduct ample research and finalize your decision accordingly.

Analyze Your Competitors

Perhaps, your competitors have already tapped into the market you’re planning to cater to. However, you can still come up with feasible ideas to outperform them.

To begin, conduct thorough research about your competition. Find out about the factors they’re best in (e.g. pricing, design, product selection, timely delivery, customer service) as well as the areas they’re not good at. Once you’ve found their weakest point (for instance, timely delivery), you can position your brand in the same area while ensuring you excel that area too.

Search For A Reliable Investor

You’ll need finances to setup a workplace, purchase equipment, pay the staff, and make payments for miscellaneous overheads. If you don’t have sufficient funds, you’ll need to look for an investor. Begin the quest by asking around in your social circle. The next option is to place an ad on Craigslist or similar platforms.

Create Your Brand Identity

Ever thought why clients should choose your brand when they can get the same thing from other promotional products companies?

If you have a generic brand, clients will not be attracted to your business. To grab their attention towards your brand, you should come up with a brand identity – a unique identity that helps your brand differ from your competitors.

To make this possible, create an attention-grabbing yet relevant brand name. Next, hire a professional to design an attractive logo. Once this is done, devise a catchy tag line that adds value to your brand name.

After getting through these tasks, it’s time to register your business name.

 

Devise An Online Marketing Strategy

In a highly competitive market, drawing in potential clients requires conducting both online and offline marketing activities.

To begin online, start off with these initiatives:

  • Create a website: This will be the first platform your target audience will use to know about your business. Plus, they might also place an order via your website. Add content to the website related to your promotional products business. Make sure the content is written in a way that it answers all your clients’ queries related to your promotional products business.

 

  • Start blogging: A website without valuable content is just like a retail outlet without any inventory. To attract website visitors, write blog posts that are relevant to your business. When you update your WordPress, integrate the same blog posts on social media.

 

  • Write an eBook and place it on your website: The eBook should work as a guide for businesses that aim to promote their brand by using your promotional products. In the eBook, write about the benefits of giving away promotional products to customers, how to choose the type of promotional products according to customers’ preferences, and how to align these products with specific brand names. Doing this will give your potential clients an idea that you’re an expert in the promotional products industry.

Plan Offline Marketing Activities

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To carry out offline marketing activities, follow these points:

  • Design a business card and a compelling brochure: You’ll be giving these to prospective clients within various networking events.

 

  • Make a presentation for clients: Once your clients have your business card, you never know when they might contact you to place the first order. Therefore, it’s wise to act proactively. Prepare a business presentation beforehand so you can present it to them in the business meeting.

Offer A Free Trial

If this is something your competitors aren’t doing, go for it. Besides creating a competitive edge, offering a free trial will help clients figure out if getting promotional products manufactured and delivered from your company is benefiting their business.

If the results are positive, there is a high probability they’ll contact you for their next order. Besides, you’ll be getting more clients through word-of-mouth marketing.

 

Digital Branding

Why Your Business Needs a Welcome Email

Whenever someone signs up for your business’s mailing list, you want them to feel as welcome as possible. Enticing users into joining mailing lists is harder than it once was. Those of us who remember the earliest days of email, and the internet more generally, will remember how there used to be a certain appeal in signing up to mailing lists simply because an email was still such a novelty.

Today’s more tech-savvy generation, however, is not so easily impressed. As for the rest of us, we have been so spoiled by the availability of information instantly, on demand, wherever we are, that the appeal of joining a mailing list has been diminished considerably. However, despite the drop in the number of people who regularly make use of mailing lists, many of those who do still use them is exactly the kind of people that you most want to reach.

The traditional mailing list has been largely superseded by social media, however, it is still worth offering a mailing list, and it is definitely worth taking the time to ensure that your mailing list does its job as well as possible.

One of the most crucial aspects of a mailing list is the welcome email. The welcome email will be the first time that many of these people receive communications from your business and you want to create the best impression possible. Here are some of the reasons why you should take the time to craft a welcome email that will demonstrate your professionalism to recipients.

Save Time

All business owners wish that they had more time in the day to complete all their work. Time is money, after all. Therefore, any savings in time also represent savings in money. A welcome email welcoming a customer to your mailing list or to another area of your business, such as a loyalty scheme, is the perfect opportunity to present them with all the necessary information that they could want, both now and in the future.

By including information in the welcome email, you are giving your customers a document that they can refer back to later, and which will answer any questions that they might have about your business, or about specific services that you offer.

Demonstrate Your Value

It doesn’t matter what field or industry you work in. Any business operating today is going to be competing against more rivals than ever before. The multitude of complex threats and competition that the modern business faces are most effectively fought with a good public image. The welcome email that a customer receives after they first interact with your business is the perfect chance to demonstrate to the customer that your business is of value to them.

The first way of demonstrating your value is in adopting a professional tone. Make sure that the email reads like it is coming from a business who respects their customers, and who deserves their customers’ respect in return. It is perfectly possible to put together a welcome email which also serves as an introduction to your business and its ethos. Businesses who use their welcome emails to reinforce their ethos to customers will appear more authentic and sincere.

Make a Good First Impression

You only get one shot at making a first impression, so it is important that you make it count. This is not an opportunity that you want to squander. Doing so would represent a terrible waste. When you are devising your welcome email, try and put yourself in the shoes of the customer who receives it. Ask yourself what kind of words and gestures would make a good first impression on you and adjust your approach accordingly.

If it helps, then imagine that the email you are composing consists of what you would say to someone you had just met for the first time and who was considering either investing in or patronizing, your business. Think about the kind of information that they would want to know, what reassurances they might want and, of course, what you can say to make them stick with your business in the long term.

The Personal Touch

When a customer first signs up to a mailing list, or to a service that your business offers, then anything you can do to make them feel valued and not like they are just another customer, will help to solidify their loyalty to your business. Compose a welcome email which makes it clear to customers that they matter to you, include a bit of information in your welcome email about what it is that you want to do for your customers, even if it is as simple as providing them with excellent service. This is a perfect example of how a welcome email can work but for more examples of how work emails work, you can head over too Sendinblue.

The humble welcome email is, in fact, a powerful marketing tool. It is an opportunity to talk directly to customers, and if used to its full effect, can be a means of cementing their support for your business.