Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Blogging Strategy

A blog or weblog covers a mixture of what is happening in the daily life of your business as well as new and upcoming events. A blogging strategy can be used to help determine how to engage with online users and generate website traffic. When designing your blog, be sure to create it so that it increases brand awareness and attracts readers.

Other benefits of blogging include:

  • Googleloves it! Blogs are great for increasing website indexed pages, and Google places value on websites with a high volume of indexed pages.
  • Customers can remain current with the status of your business events and updates. Additionally, a blog can define your brandas authoritative and help your business be seen as professional and knowledgeable.

Keys to Effective Team Leadership

Nearly 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies use some form of team-based structures within their daily operations to help in organizing work (Magni, & Maruping, 2013). A majority of employees are involved in teamwork as a part of their daily job duties and responsibilities (Magni, & Maruping, 2013). Leaders are responsible for broadening and elevating team members’ goals as well as creating team confidence (Ishikawa, 2012). The leader is also responsible for managing team conflicts, building relationships, engaging members, and taking responsibility for projects (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). Leaders have a considerable impact on team members’ attitudes toward their jobs, team climate, and performance (Ishikawa, 2012). Team members must learn to self-direct and execute multiple tasks concurrently (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). A team leader should begin management by setting a meeting with team members and have them introduce themselves to one another. This will allow members to build relationships and get to know one another on a personal level and in a comfortable setting (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). As a leader, my role would be to establish a team that can work efficiently to satisfy stakeholders, customers, and team members (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). I would build my team based on their strengths, and past performances. Conflict in time management and task priorities can affect the task schedule (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014; Ishikawa, 2012). Without proper leadership, there could be concern of power struggle within the group as new stronger members would likely take the lead role and potentially ignore the lower status individuals’ suggestions and ideas (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014; Hoch, & Morgeson, 2014). I would need to not only manage the needs of the team, but also of the individual members.

Within a team setting, team members should be able to react effectively to unanticipated, non-routine, and unstructured situations in order to achieve team objectives (Ishikawa, 2012). To manage an effective team, the leader should create a structure that allows for good and efficient communication, shared responsibilities, and proper goal and time management. Sharing leadership task can help build trust and cooperation among team members. By sharing task, members gain strength, motivation, and encouragement (Hoch, & Morgeson, 2014; Ishikawa, 2012). Time is paramount within a team setting. Being able to overcome barriers by reacting to task, unexpected issues, and delivering positive results are essential to achieving efficient outcomes (Ishikawa, 2012).

Project teams are composed of individual team members who have varying viewpoints. This is heightened in virtual teams where members are from different locations and with different cultures, beliefs, interest, time separation, distance, and standards (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014; Ishikawa, 2012). To keep up morale for virtual team members, I would have to remain in touch on a regular basis and build rapport with team members. It would be my responsibility to motivate members via telephone calls, and video conferencing, which could help decrease member isolation (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). When working in a virtual team, culture and diversity can affect how the team functions (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). Leaders interacting in diverse teams will be more susceptible to volatile relationships because of potential cultural misunderstandings. This is because diverse virtual team members can hold very different assumptions about mental modes and social interaction (Ayman, & Korabik, 2010; Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). In a virtual setting, the leader should create and manage clear goals, considering virtual team members are better led when goals and direction are clear (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014; Hoch, & Morgeson, 2014).

Virtual teams may have an issue of technology in addition to communication barriers (Balthazard, Waldman, & Warren, 2009; Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014; Ishikawa, 2012). Having strong technical skills allows the member to minimize the need of outside technical assistance. Virtual team members should have high self-esteem so that they can support themselves through motivation and limit disrupting the other team members (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). Reaching individual goals can be daunting, so being goal oriented will allow members to motivate themselves to go above and beyond when necessary to achieve their objectives (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014). Virtual teams and projects create increased response time for demands, greater productivity, and the option to work around the clock (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014; Ishikawa, 2012). However, team members who are located more than 50 feet away from one another, have a significantly decreased frequency of communication (Ishikawa, 2012). Being near one another, creates better circumstances for team members to communicate about issues that affect projects (Balthazard, Waldman, & Warren, 2009). Communication is a significant factor in team environments considering it is essential in helping gather information (Balthazard, Waldman, & Warren, 2009; Ishikawa, 2012). To overcome barriers, the team leader should influence members to have good technical skills, high self-esteem, be goal oriented, and not be afraid of friendly debate and admitting to mistakes (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014).
Credits

Ayman, R., & Korabik, K. (2010). Leadership. American Psychologist, 65(3), 157-170. doi:10.1037/a0018806

Balthazard, P. A., Waldman, D. A., & Warren, J. E. (2009). Predictors of the emergence of transformational leadership in virtual decision teams. Leadership Quarterly, 20(5), 651–663. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.06.008

Barnwell, D., Nedrick, S., Rudolph, E., Sesay, M., & Wellen, W. (2014). Leadership of International and Virtual Project Teams. International Journal Of Global Business, 7(2), 1-8.

Hoch, J. E., & Morgeson, F. P. (2014). Vertical and shared leadership processes: Exploring team leadership dynamics. Academy Of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, 1607-1612. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.2014.96

Ishikawa, J. (2012). Transformational leadership and gatekeeping leadership: The roles of norm for maintaining consensus and shared leadership in team performance. Asia Pacific Journal Of Management, 29(2), 265-283. doi:10.1007/s10490-012-9282-z

Magni, M., & Maruping, L. M. (2013). Sink or Swim: Empowering Leadership and Overload in Teams’ Ability to Deal with the Unexpected. Human Resource Management, 52(5), 715-739. doi:10.1002/hrm.21561

Brand Strategy

To say that you need a brand to be successful is inaccurate. The laundry mat or embroidery shop up the street do not have a brand and they are doing very well. Whether you need a brand is dependent on the goal of your business. For example, if you are a service based business, or simply have a business that is in demand, then having a strong brand is not needed considering customers will seek you out and already know what they want, how they want it, and at what speed and price they want it. Think, where does the local school purchase its school buses? Have you ever seen a school bus manufacturer advertise their brand on television or at local events?

You do, however, need to have a brand if you have significant competition and if you have a niche product which requires educating customers. The goal of a brand is to provide customers with reasons to purchase your product or service over the competition. Without a solid brand, it makes marketing and customer acquisition expensive and time consuming.

A brand gives your business its unique character – its look and feel, voice, and identity. Without its image, Nike is just one more shoemaker, and Macy’s is simply another retailer. A good brand should have a foundation based on value and customer engagement. The brand should represent the mission of your business and hold relevancy to your customers.

— For more lessons like this, purchase your copy of Act Like a Business: Think Like a Customer by Dr. Elijah Clark from all major bookstores. —

Security Breach and Ethics

As a healthcare patient, I feel that the privacy of my personal information is a major concern. Organizations should focus on making ethical decisions when handling patient information in regards to implementing effective security and privacy measures (Haag & Cummings, 2008). Many organizations including healthcare spend thousands or millions of dollars on securing patient privacy and protecting data against breaches and hackers (Farahmand, Navathe, Sharp, & Enslow, 2005). It is the responsibility of leaders and management to understand and influence ethical practices which relate to privacy and security threats (Haag & Cummings, 2008). Security breaches have the ability to disable the functions of a business and pilfer confidential consumer information such as healthcare information, social security numbers, and passwords (Tran & Atkinson, 2002). In addition to potential loss in revenue, breaches also create consumer distrust, and negatively affect brand reputation (Farahmand et al., 2005).  The risks associated with breaches such as loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability, should cause organizations to be aware and active with threats that generate concerns (Halliday, Badenhorst, & Solms, 1996).

 

Suggested Readings

Farahmand, F., Navathe, S. B., Sharp, G. P., & Enslow, P. H. (2005). A management perspective on risk of security threats to information systems. Information Technology and Management, 6(2–3). doi:10.1007/s10799-005-5880-5

Haag, S., & Cummings, M. (2008). Management information systems for the information age (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin

Halliday, S., Badenhorst, K., & Solms, R. (1996). A business approach to effective information technology risk analysis and management. Information Management & Computer Security, 4(1). doi:10.1108/09685229610114178

Tran, E., & Atkinson, M. (2002). Security of personal data across national borders. Information Management & Computer Security, 10(5). doi:10.1108/09685220210446588

E-Commerce

E-commerce and online transactions account for billions of dollars in sales activity. While e-commerce is a good opportunity for your business to expand online, it could be overwhelming if your business is not prepared for online growth. Initiating your online store is like opening a second location, so you will need to hire new employees and a new technology team to help manage the new location. Additionally, your online store will require top-notch security measures, privacy resolutions, and excellent customer support. You will need to define and understand your new online customer group which will be very different from those ordering by phone or shopping in-store. If your customers are within an older demographic group, you could find yourself having to create and market your new business service to a new user group from scratch considering disruptive technology is often influenced and adopted by younger demographics.

The benefits of e-commerce are based on the efficiency of the automated system. Benefits include a decrease in overall production and transaction costs if implemented properly which can help resolve business concerns regarding the budget. Ample stock inventories, proper notifications, timely delivery dates, and excellent customer support is key to achieving e-commerce success.

A drawback of e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar businesses is that with e-commerce sites it is difficult to generate a sale through user interaction with the business. To partially resolve this issue, you can implement a chat system and monitor the effects of your e-commerce strategies by using activity and traffic tools that monitor users visiting the website.

Customer Marketing

Purpose of Marketing

Without marketing, your business is taking the risk of losing customers and revenue. Think of your brand, website, or artwork as a resume. You spend hours or days writing, designing, and editing it to perfection, not to mention the years of enhancing and refining your background with experience and education. After you’ve culminated and perfected your resume, what next? What’s the next step to ensuring that you land that dream job? The appropriate response is to send your resume to employers. In the context of business, that’s called marketing. You must market yourself to win the job. A terribly unattractive resume sent to potential employers has a higher probability of landing a job over a superb resume sitting in a drawer. Without marketing, you will waste time and money creating a great brand that never gets noticed.

Customer Marketing

If your marketing strategy is not structured on the purchasing needs and wants of your desired customer, you are missing the mark in marketing. An effective campaign is one that influences customers to make a purchase. The secret is to build trust and positive brand awareness through attractive and targeted marketing. Additionally, the campaign should aim at solving the customer’s hesitation to purchase. As customers make purchases, a trend will develop, outlining likes and dislikes based on what sells and what doesn’t.

A Hesitant Customer. All customers experience some hesitancy before making purchases. They don’t simply walk into a store or view a website and make a purchase without thinking about it. How long they hesitate is where you should focus your marketing. For example, a product discounted with a “One day only” stamp will make the customer spend less time debating the purchase because of the urgency of the deadline. If you want a today purchase, you should try marketing your product or service so that it positively influences the customer to decide and act quickly.

As a business owner, you have the responsibility to provide customers with the information they need to make a purchase. If presented effectively, the information you provide customers can persuade them to believe they need what your business is selling, even if the product is outside of their immediate desires or needs. In this sense, information used within your marketing efforts are responsible for shaping the needs and wants of your customers. The implication is that, through marketing, you can capitalize on your customers’ internal weakness and persuade them to make a purchase.

A customer purchase is often based on one of three factors; (1) whether the product or service will help the customer be more productive; (2) whether the product or service can satisfy the things or people the customer cares most about; or (3) whether it fulfills a desire or need.

When marketing, you should understand how your product can solve your customers’ problem or situation. If you know your customers’ habits, likes, or dislikes you can market based on how your product will fit into their lifestyles. From there, the customer will be less hesitant to make the purchase and will have a solid answer as to why they need your product.

Outlining your personnel expenses

The Right Personnel

Businesses generally have multiple employees completing various task. If this is your business, then you need to evaluate the expenses needed when hiring new personnel.

Personnel expenses may include expenses of current and future employees, which are needed to successfully implement the marketing strategy.

Expenses to consider include:

  • Number of employees
  • Type of labor (skilled, unskilled, professional)
  • Where to find new employees
  • Quality of existing staff
  • Pay structure
  • Responsibility

Reviews and Reputation Management

Monitoring social networks for customer reviews enables your business to develop customer relationships, which can enhance your business’s reputation and value. Customer reviews require an immediate need to respond, particularly when working toward preventing negative reviews from influencing potential customers.

To monitor and identify customer reviews, the use of a review monitoring tool that enables you to acknowledge positive reviewers and perform conflict resolution for negative reviews is a worthwhile expenditure. When a customer posts a review, that review has the potential to spread to a larger audience. There are services including Bazaar Voice and Yelp that help with monitoring customer reviews. You should use these review monitoring tools for proactive crisis management and conflict resolution for negative reviews, and to acknowledge and share positive reviews.

Reputation Management

Reputation management is an essential aspect of marketing, and the posted opinions of your customers on social media, and how your business connects with those customers, aids in generating brand awareness and marketing success. You cannot control customer reviews. Consequently, it is imperative that you continually monitor and manage social networks. To help maintain the reputation of your business, an automated system can be used to e-mail noted positive reviewers and request that they post reviews on multiple social media networks to increase the exposure of these positive reviews. You should also consider offering special status, VIP sales, unique merchandising promos, or other perks to these select individuals to retain their interest in championing your business within their social sphere.

In response to determining the management of customer reviews, you should not ignore the opinions of customers. Reviews are free pathways for gaining insights into customers’ perspectives compared to incentives, surveys, and focus groups. Unlike positive reviews, negative reviews have a greater likelihood of generating negative emotions and business perceptions. Reputation managers should have crisis management training for comprehending the proper steps for knowing how to de-escalate emotional situations that drive to the heart of the customer’s issues without the manager being emotionally invested. No matter the ranking or quality of the review, you should listen to the concerns of the reviewer, address the issues, and prevent customer dissatisfaction from happening in the future. When customers write reviews, particularly negative reviews, they expect a response from your business. Acknowledging customer reviews could benefit your marketing strategy by gaining insights into unforeseen problems within your business.

Building Trust

Trust takes time. When you are sending marketing material to a potential customer, there just isn’t always time to create a trusting relationship. But there are things you can do to prove you are credible, which is a step in the right direction. Credibility starts with a good reputation and a good design which inspires confidence in the viewer.

When designing, follow modern design standards and practices to create a clean, easy-to- read campaign. In addition, marketing content full of misspellings and poor grammar can be a red flag for customers. It says little for your business’s ability to pay attention to detail and reduces your credibility as a professional organization.

Finally, you need compelling testimonials or case studies that showcase the results you can deliver, the type of working relationships you have, and how you solved problems for previous customers.

— For more lessons like this, purchase your copy of Act Like a Business: Think Like a Customer by Dr. Elijah Clark from all major bookstores. —

Pricing and Expectations

Framing Your Price. You need confidence to make a sale – and you need that same confidence in the product or service that you are selling. Most business strategies are designed so that customers are given the bare-bones option first, and then the business reveals what it can do for its Super Special, Super-Charged Retainer or its “Everything you ever dreamed of” package. By giving your lowest price first and then the higher price, you are cautiously approaching the customer with the idea that they should spend more for a complete service, but not convincing them which package is right for them or their business.

Consider this: which of the following statements is most impactful? You’ll save $1,000 if you buy marketing automation software. Or; You’ll lose 100 customers if you don’t buy marketing automation software. People feel much stronger about the thought of losing something. When you set up your business strategy, emphasize the possible loses if the customer does not take action now. In addition, set up your marketing so that the right package is presented first. Then, if necessary, outline what a stripped-down version of this would cost. Also, emphasize how much more difficult, time consuming, or unattainable achieving the customer’s goals will be if they choose the cheaper version. You’re not really changing anything about what you do. You’re just reframing the conversation.

Outline The Process. Every customer’s goals and challenges are unique, but that doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch when building a sales strategy. If you have a keen understanding of what you do, how to sell it, and how to package it, you should be able to create or customize an existing sales strategy to fit the needs of, and attract, any type of customer. However, this relies on your business having a repeatable and defined selling process. When questioning your customers, you should know:

  • The goals, plans, and challenges of the customer
  • Current customer metrics and key company information
  • The cost to the customer of not doing anything to meet their goals

When building a sales strategy to target your desired customer, the strategy should include:

  • Campaign goals
  • Scope of services and benefits
  • Reporting
  • Success Metrics
  • Timeline
  • Budget

With this framework in place and a defined process for gathering information, it will be much easier to put together a winning sales and marketing strategy.

Set Expectations. Once you have confirmed that the customer is a good fit for your business and the customer has requested more information and an estimate, you need to detail what the purchasing or contract phase looks like. The price estimate or sales collateral is the next step in the commitment process on the part of the customer. It should confirm everything you have already spoken about and solidify the deal.

There is no magic trick to selling. There shouldn’t be some big reveal. There is no tool for convincing and impressing. The price estimate or contract proposal is a confirmation, in writing, of what your business can do, how it will do it, when it will be completed, and why the customer specifically needs your product or services. It should be the final step prior to a contract being signed, and your business and the customer should both be confident that the deal will close – and soon.

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