Archive for September, 2013

Community Is Queen

September 30, 2013

Teamwork Six People

This month’s marketing blog is part of a three-post segment on the theme of ‘The Ying-Yang of Content and Community’, following the initial post ‘Why Content Is King and Community Is Queen’. This month and next month, we will drill down into the top-ten list from the August blog and cover ‘The Key to Quality Content,’ our September blog below, and ‘Reaching Your Niche Community’, the October blog topic.

The first step is to understand how content and community work together, which is what we covered a couple of months ago, in our blog on Why Content is King and Community is Queen. Last month, we covered some thoughts on how to create quality content. But this month, we delve into the importance of community, for nobody can create quality content without understanding the community they serve and what’s important to them.

Strategically Reach Out to Classes of Customers

1. Knowing who you serve and why you serve them is a first step. Understanding this from your company perspective, and also from your customers’ perspective will help ensure alignment.
2. Question whom you’ve reached out to before, and whom you should be reaching out to now. What has changed? What will be changing? How will that affect what you do for whom and why that’s important to them?
3. What major trends are forging changes in the relationship with your clients? How will these trends impact the relationship with your stakeholders and customers in the short term and in the long term?

Know What Motivates Them, What’s Relevant to Them

4. Build a relationship with the customers you serve. Know where they are coming from and support them, even if it transcends your current business needs.
5. Bring feedback about the motivations and needs of your community to the management team and help shape corporate strategy based on the needs of the community and customer.

Ensure that the Content Matters to Them

6. If there’s a mismatch between the content and the needs of the community, the product/service offering and what the community is looking for, something needs to be done. Either pivot the business or identify and recruit a new niche community, or a combination of both.
7. Addressing the issue head-on will likely unearth other problems better brought out into the open.

Invite Participation and Initiative

8. Inviting active participation and input, rewarding volunteer leadership and initiative can help you bring the company and its offerings to new levels – new functionality, larger market, more opportunities.
9. Rewarding community members with the initiative and leadership for proactive feedback will facilitate active participation and feedback from others within the community – for the benefit of all.
10. There’s a difference between saying that you’re customer-centric and actually being so, between inviting participation and initiative and being open to suggestions and feedback and change. Community members find out quickly what you really mean based on the way you’re acting.

The bottom line is that the engagement and participation of the right community and customer will truly dictate the success of a company. How the leadership team manages this internal-external collaboration will directly affect a company’s bottom line today, and its prospects for the future.

Enabling Sales

September 30, 2013

Teamwork and corporate profit

Sales is where the rubber hits the road – you have to get the product right, you have to message it to the right audience, you have to build relationships and get the business models right, but assuming that all is in order, the sales numbers are the most direct indicators of success, and driving those numbers up will benefit all.

In our January marketing post on ‘Ten Truths about the New Sales Professionals’, we noted that the new sales professionals are more customer-oriented, more tech-savvy, more community-oriented, more collaborative, and more proactive. Given the above, below are some tips for enabling sales for the organization.

Be Customer Oriented

1. The customer dictates whether a product or service will succeed, not the product, not the market, so work with your sales team to better understand the needs of your current and anticipated customers. Reward customer-oriented behavior, and making serving-the-customer job #1, regardless of level and role within an organization.
2. Understanding the ‘job’ of your customers and prospects, the ‘pain and obstacles’ to doing the job well and efficiently, and the potential ‘gain’ when it’s done well is key to the success of a company.

Be Collaborative

3. Build engagement and connections between engineering, marketing, sales, and management. Partnerships between sales, marketing, engineering, finance, management, etc will best lead to that understanding as we all have a piece of the puzzle, and it’s everyone’s job to build a customer-oriented culture.
4. Hire and retain only those who are collaborative, customer-focused and team-oriented. There’s no room for Marketing professionals who snub sales people, Sales professionals who focus only on their own numbers, or Engineering professionals who think that it’s all about the solution.

Be Tech-Savvy

5. Technology is key to understanding and even anticipating the needs of the customer and how your company and efficiently and collaboratively deliver to meet that need. Empower finance, technology and marketing professionals to support sales professionals in understanding why customers are buying, how to close deals, and what anticipated buying trends are.
6. Social media, mobile apps and tools, data analytics and cloud solutions will help connect and empower the stakeholders within and outside the organization to deliver quality products and services to customers. Across omni-channel communications become the norm, it’s essential to leverage the technologies and tools to empower, connect, serve, and leverage within and across stakeholders across the value chain.

Be Community-Oriented

7. Identify stakeholders throughout the ecosystem and their motivations for participating and engaging. Knowing the types of stakeholders involved with your organization as well as individual top-performers and partners will help you more strategically serve that niche market overall, build a tighter community, as well as a larger network.
8. Create layers of participation, from member to partner, from ambassador to SuperFan, and proactively engage with the community. Provide resources and education to empower and connect within, between and across these layers.

Be Proactive

9. Proactively creating and serving communities of stakeholders will engage them at a deeper level, empower them to proactively share their needs and successes, and invite them to become SuperFans – those who will promote you to their trusted friends. Proactively and strategically rewarding all internal players for their efforts in building sales will build relationships within the company while directly impacting the bottom line.
10. Proactively managing toward a customer-oriented, community-oriented, collaborative approach leveraging technology will strategically set your company apart.

In conclusion, remember that your plans for the company are just a dream without a paying customer, your technology may be nice, but it’s not a business without a customer. Collaborating to generate those sales is key to the success for any organization.

Women Who Make Their Own Rules

September 16, 2013

Sept13OwnRules (1)

FountainBlue’s September 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to be in the midst of brilliance – witnessing and absorbing the enriching, inspiring words of our incomparable panelists, and laughing, nodding and exclaiming as we strive to integrate their wisdom into our day-to-day activities.

Our panelists represented women of backgrounds from humble to privileged, from engineering to legal and marketing, yet they all had much in common:

  • They rose to a level of impact and prestige that directly and indirectly impacts the success of their organizations, their teams and their networks.
  • They started by first knowing themselves, and brought that self-awareness to bear in strategizing career and life decisions.
  • They proved themselves in ways large and small, quantatively and qualitatively, and influenced the success of all they touched in ways unimaginable, sometimes even by themselves.
  • They generously shared their strategies, wisdom, tools, and time with promising others.
  • They succeeded by building relationships and understanding the motivations of those they touch.
  • They constantly strive to improve themselves, leveraging the people and resources around them while also benefiting same.
  • They ARE that beam of light that makes you want to be a better you, and gives all a brighter hope for the future, seeing the best in ourselves, those around us, and the possibilities for all of us.

Below are their top ten kernels of wisdom shared by our panel about women who make their own rules.

Know Yourself

1. Know yourself, your values, and your needs. These are your non-negotiables, so make a stand behind them.
2. Everyone has their own story, their own challenges. Leverage yours to get to where you’d like to go.
3. Know why you’re making your own rule, as it would necessarily mean that you’re breaking an existing rule. Who is making the existing rule? How would your own rule better benefit all stakeholders? What’s the strategy to get the right people to buy into the new rule? How do you best execute, follow-through, correct, etc?

Prove Yourself

4. If you focus on yourself and your own needs first, you will then be in a better position to help others get there too. So, first prove yourself before you aspire to make your own rules. People won’t follow you and let you make your own rules unless they can believe in you, and in the way you would follow through and execute.
5. Mistakes happen – focusing on the learnings will help narrow in on what will work in the short term and the long term. Perseverance and grit and having a tough skin will help you rise above your mistakes and increase the likelihood that you will be able to forge change with your new rule, particularly lasting change. So follow through and make something happen, despite the challenges, the errors, and especially when it’s difficult to do so.
6. Communicate your best practices and your results so that others beyond you and those immediately around you can also benefit. Speak the language of the audience to which you’re communicating – ride that balance between appearing over-confident and arrogant and appearing

Stretch Yourself

7. Embrace the uncomfortable as the best learnings lie there. A good way to embrace the uncomfortable is to welcome and encourage others who-don’t-think-and-act-like-you-do to also make their own rules, provided that it’s also for the greater good.
8. When people see the promise in you, understand why they are giving you that next challenge, determine if it’s the right strategic next-step for you, and create your own rules to get from here to there, on your own terms, in your own way, especially if it makes you uncomfortable to even think about doing so!

Stand and Deliver

9. Humor is a brilliant way to share wisdom and learnings and create bonds between people.

Make It Bigger Than You Are

10. Think well beyond money, title, position, power, and more about making a difference, making your mark on the world on your terms. Doing things for the greater good and communicating why it benefits others and how they can participate will engage the right stakeholders to help change rules, for the betterment of all!

In the end, remember that it’s not a destination, it’s a journey, so strive to make it one full of happiness and learnings. Use our illustrious examples of how you too can share your successes and challenges and help you gain the strength, fortitude, resources and perspective to achieve results benefitting others.

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FountainBlue’s September 13 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Women Making Their Own Rules. Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at Cadence.

Facilitator Natascha Thomson, MarketingXLerator, Co-Author of 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing Book

Panelist Kamini Dandapani, Director, Software Development, eBay

Panelist Tina Jones, Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources, Cadence Design Systems

Panelist Duy-Loan Le, Senior Fellow, Texas Instruments

Panelist Mona Sabet, Founder, Viblio