Author Archives: jeffpad

Where Do You Leave Your Fingerprints?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Our fingerprints are a sure-fire way to identify us. We leave them everywhere, and we never give a second thought to it when we touch something. The same holds true with our businesses. We are leaving our finger prints on so many things that to trying to figure out all the places they could be is an impossible task.

Now, of course this may not worry you in the least, but it is beginning to worry me. As a strategist who works with businesses every day, and tries to find the most optimum way to gain market reach and exposure, or consolidate branding messages, I am responsible for leaving those fingerprints as well. If you haven’t yet figured it out, the fingerprint I am talking about is digital, the amount of data that is left on the internet, where today, any smart phone or tablet can access it. Like the “footprints” that were the buzzword only a few years ago, we are leaving these digital fingerprints any time we put any type of information anywhere on the web.

My fear is not that my fingerprint is using up valuable resources that will someday in the future affect the next generations, but that we are getting to a point of what I refer to as “Communication Smudge”. Just touch the screen on your device and the amount of information that we are bombarded with becomes a blur. Getting a message out becomes increasingly difficult. How do you market your product or service electronically and actually get seen? It often reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who. Our message is like the tiny world that sits atop a dust speck on the top of a clover that Horton the Elephant finds in a field.iStock_000005044123Small

Each minute the amount of “stuff” added to the web is simply astounding, and causes the “smudge”, one message just melts into the next. A recent article posted by Neil Spencer illustrates in dramatic style what gets pumped online every minute of every day, and the finger print remains eternally. Here are some highlights:

  1. Over 204,000,000 emails
  2. 48 hours of YouTube uploads
  3. 571 new websites go online
  4. 684,000 Facebook entries
  5. 100,000 tweets.

I didn’t even mention the number of blogs, “likes” and apps that are committed to internet pipelines each minute.

Where and how it will it end? I don’t know. Your digital fingerprints are helping to clog up the system. Perhaps we will reach a point where face to face interaction will once again be the norm and business intelligence won’t come from a touch screen. Pass the Windex!

 

 

 

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Filed under advertising, blogging, Communications, Facebook, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, social media

Do You Measure Training ROI?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

For more than 25 years now I have watched various corporations take the training that has been provided for their employees and try to measure the return they received from the investment. Not as easy as it sounds.  Measuring ROI is a process, and it includes collecting and analyzing performance data both prior to and in a fixed time period after training, then trying to quantify that into some measurement of real financial benefit. There are conditions attached to getting true measurements that are rarely taken into account.

  • Was there an accurate benchmark set before training occurred?
  • Was there a control group to measure against for improvement??
  • Was there any environmental difference that would affect performance results?
  • Are there clear improvement expectations?
  • Is the performance improvement measurable or anecdotal in scope?
  • Was there follow-up coaching for improvement and reinforcement?

For those that want a predictive outcome of the value of training prior to the actual training taking place, we can only rely on analyzed data from a multitude of studies in North America over the last few years.  As Trainers we can make no guarantees because we can’t control the variables after we leave the building.  We can, however, leave you with some proven statistics;iStock_000028228004Medium

  1.    A Lou Harris and Associates Poll says “employees who say their company offers poor or no training, 41% plan to leave within a year”, compared to 12% where the respondents receive excellent training.
  2.    On average $1.00 invested equals an $8.00 net benefit
  3.     Companies investing $1,500 per employee experience 24% higher profit margins
  4.     Investment in Personal development results in a 21% increase in productivity.

The ROI on training and development can have a huge impact on your business, not just in revenue, but in employee morale, creativity and leadership retention!

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Filed under Human Resources, Jeff Bowman, Training and Development

Does Your Business Respond With RAGE?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Nothing says more about a company than how they respond to customer complaints. As hard as we might try to be perfect in our business, there will always be something that someone either doesn’t like or appreciate about what we do. As we all know, most people will never complain directly to you, however they will talk to everyone they know behind our corporate backs, and that is far more damaging than expressing their concerns directly in the first place.

The thing is, that business owners often don’t want to hear complaints, they don’t encourage customer interaction and often won’t acknowledge there is even an issue. Educated consumers and social media have been changing all that!  Now the “talk to their friends behind your corporate back” means involving the masses through “internet interaction”.  There have been tons of high-profile cases where social unrest bred through internet or twitter posts have led to serious issues for large corporations.  Kevin Smith vs, Southwest Airlines , Lulu Lemon’s “exposure” grew tremendously due to the web. Maritz Research recently studied Twitter complaints and found that almost 70% went unresponded to by the company being tweeted about! That is simply unacceptable in today’s business world

Conversely, the study found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded.Liked or loved, those are some pretty strong words! I’ll bet that those companies who responded did it with RAGE.  RAGE is my acronym for Recognize, Acknowledge, Gauge and Evaluate.

To be able to recognize that there is an issue, you need to invite conversation through social media, so that consumers can hopefully talk to you first. If they like the response, chances are they will not only like it, but respond socially in a more positive light about you.

When you acknowledge, you do it with empathy and understanding.  Put yourself in the consumer’s boots and respond in a way that shows real concern and a desire to rectify the situation.

Continue to gauge social media to determine if there is more to the issue than a few scattered complaints, as well as seeing if your goodwill is gaining you points by those who you have responded to.  Is your name popping up elsewhere or are you trending?

Finally, evaluate what happened, how quickly you responded, the importance of your actions, the outcome and if there is anything else that is warranted to be done. Try to measure the increase in goodwill that occurs after the initial interaction.

Utilizing RAGE to your benefit will help you turn dissatisfaction into trust, respect and business growth.  Turn those with complaints into your company’s evangelists and turn the social media tide in your favour.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, social capital, social media, Social Networking, twitter

Business Advice for Party Goers

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

T ‘is the season for the holiday office party! Yes, those parties that many employees look forward to attending, looking for opportunities to climb the org charts, charm their co-workers or simply enjoy the festivities and the holiday spirit. Then, there are those who dread the mere mention of an external social gathering with co-workers.  They fear the unwanted conversations about anything but work, the mingling with others they may dislike and the drinking and carousing that seem to be associated with these types of gatherings. 

There have been countless cases of those who sought to climb the ladder of success stumbling on the rungs and falling flat on their face at such parties. I have put together a few quick tips that will allow you to get the most out of your office party this year without having to worry about going back into the office on the next business day.

  1. Drink responsibly or not at all.  We have all seen those individuals who have a little too much of the spiked eggnog and say things or do things that they would never have normally without the liquid courage in them. And by all means if the party is in the office, unplug the photocopier!
  2. Proper attire – Most holiday party invitations will advise of the dress code, however if it simply says business attire or festive outfits, then dress respectably. Holiday colours are good, dressed down jeans, t-shirts etc are bad. Try to find that balance between festive and professional if you can.
  3. Drunk man on christmasTime is of the essence – Arrive in a timely manner.  It is just as noticeable by those you work with whether it is at a staff party or a regular office day, how punctual you are.  If the party is a “drop in” that isn’t an issue however if it is at a specified time, be there. If you are going to be a little late, advise the organizers beforehand so they are not left wondering if you will show up at all. I also make it a point never to be the last one to leave.
  4. Mix – Holiday parties are all about mixing and mingling, meet people you don’t know, go out of your way to speak to those you rarely get a chance to speak to a the office, be congenial and always polite. Avoid the regular office water cooler cliques. Try to avoid bringing the office to the party and separate those office/work issues with outside socialization. Use your finest networking skills.
  5. Frame of mind – Please keep in mind the party is for everyone. It is a sign of thanks for the great work you do during the year. Even if you don’t like these types of parties, try to have the best time you can, and don’t spoil it for others.  Your attitude will have a huge impact on the entire event. Recognize those who have put so much planning into the event on your behalf, and toast to their efforts.

A few small tips that will allow everyone to enjoy your holiday office gathering.  My grandmother used to say “Don’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of me!”

Have a safe and happy holiday.

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Filed under Jeff Bowman, Networking, Uncategorized

Do You Measure Once, Cut Twice?

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

Business owners often have a couple of objective measurements that they make to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. As admirable as that is, the problem remains that these measurements are normally conducted quarterly, bi-annually or at year-end, and often measure the relative financial success of the organization, while leaving unanswered critical questions about the how’s, the whys and the when’s.

George Bernard Shaw once said; “The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them”. This applies to the majority of business people today. We carry on with our business activities for months, sometimes years without checking back to those who are directly responsible for the success or failure of our business, our clients. Maintaining the status quo, assuming that our product or services are still desired, well received and recommended by clients can be a fatal error in judgment.iStock_000013870483Small

Here are 5 questions you need to have answers to at regular frequencies in order to strategically develop your business activities.

  1. How do your new customers hear about you? Was it through referrals, your marketing, networking or some other way? How will you capitalize on this information once you have the answers?
  2. Did your product or service offer them a solution to a problem or issue they were encountering?  Was the solution sensational, very good or adequate? Can you get a testimonial?
  3. What features of your product or service are providing the greatest benefit to the clients? Is there a way to build on those? Are there other potential markets? Does the feature provide a future opportunity to solve other issues?
  4. What do your customers tell others about you, your company, your product or service and the experience of dealing with you? How often do you survey your clients?  Do you provide a mechanism for them to feed this information to you? Do you want to hear the good and the bad?
  5. Are there misconceptions about your product or service floating around in the marketplace?  Are you aware of anything negative on social media about you or your business?  Do you respond and if so how? Have you ever heard a potential client express any concern about dealing with you from something they might have heard?

We can spend countless hours testing and measuring every area of our business, and still emerge with a basic misunderstanding of why we are successful or where our failures are being hidden.  Keeping in touch with our clients provides us the truest measure of our efforts, and the clearest direction on how to grow, yet it is an area we often ignore until it may be too late. Continuous feedback allows us to make adjustments as we need them which gives a small business a huge advantage over larger organizations where change may be more cumbersome. By measuring once and cutting often, you are creating greater opportunity for errors in your business.

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Small Business