Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Website influence

A website gives your business the opportunity for exposure 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no other medium that allows consumers to discover all of the benefits of your business, at their convenience, and provide a source for direct correspondence from the user to you in real time. The benefits of a website are limitless.

Building Process. When building a website, make certain that you design the site for your customer and not for you or the graphic artist or designer. Design for the individuals that will use the site. By building for your customers, it allows you to target who is actually going to be viewing, and hopefully purchasing, from the website. Don’t design for looks, but for a purpose. If customers don’t like the colors then, no matter what you or your designer may think, those colors need to be changed. When building a website, you need to focus on attracting your target audience and making the site user-friendly.

A properly built website requires an effective title and meta tags, incoming links, and a strong architectural design. In addition, you should implement social media strategies through the use of proper link baiting, keywords, and creating a pay-per click campaign that will increase customer conversions.

A strategy that I have found to work well in improving website conversions includes adding an online blog or newsgroup. This method has shown to be a positive step in influencing conversions as well as conversations. In addition, it helps to generate a higher domain authority when utilizing unique content which can benefit the site’s ranking within search engines. Furthermore, blogs and news updates elevate customer satisfaction and attract traffic to your website.

Another question that should be asked when building your website is, “Does my website compete with my competitors?” and “Does it target my desired customer group?” If you don’t have your website built by a designer who understands your industry, then the answers are likely to be, “No.” Your website needs to represent you and your business. If it looks cheap, so will your business. If you try to cut corners, your customers will know. It’s better to have no website at all than a badly designed, poorly built website that doesn’t represent your business in a positive light, doesn’t serve the needs of your customers, and doesn’t drive traffic.

Resources for Understanding Occupational/Organizational Stress

Stafyla, A., Kaltsidou, G., & Spyridis, N. (2013). Gender differences in work stress, related to organizational conflicts and organizational constrains: An empirical research. International Journal Of Economic Sciences & Applied Research, 6(1), 91-101.

The author of this study explains that stress is normal and routine within workplaces. The study was conducted of 231 Greek adults within different workplaces, using a poll research to collect data. The average age of the 231 volunteer Greek adults was 37.5 years. 94 respondents were men, and 137 were women. The study was done to examine ways in which different gender types witness stress. The test employees completed a questionnaire with two different scales of measurement that consisted of 15 questions. The results of the study found that men express stress differently than women. Men express work stress in an organization constraint scale and not just interpersonal. Men are involved in more disagreements and treated with rudeness more often than women. In addition, men have a more difficult time completing work task due to incorrect instructions, inadequate equipment, or lack of information. Based on this information, the author concludes that how organizations function may be the differentiator between genders and how they express stress.

Considering the study was conducted during an economic crisis, it may have been best if the study were not completed within the workplace as there may have been increased fear and stress of a layoff. Another limitation to this study was that there was a lack of questionnaire validation of the American translation into Greek. In addition, the study was not conducted by analyzing workplace satisfaction and workplace stress or by considering work ethic, reward, and whether or not employees were regarded for their efforts. Monitoring the work ethic would help in understanding individual responses to work demands and organization attachments, aspirations, dedications, and expectations. The study failed to include information for understanding the femininity and masculinity type of individuals outside of gender. The study should be examined again in the future considering these setbacks.
The authors’ findings could be beneficial in understanding and reacting to different gender types within organizations. Based on similar stress studies, this study is unique in identifying gender-specific stressors and concerns. The research can be useful in understanding welfare issues and stress prevention. Considering men and women are naturally different in nature, this study was successful in identifying whether or not their differences would affect their stress levels in the workplace. A future study could further analyze gender stress within an organization by including the relationship between workplace satisfaction and stress levels.

 

Mirela, B., & Madalina-Adriana, C. (2011). Organizational stress and its impact on work performance. Annals Of The University Of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 333-337.

This study examines how an economic crisis affects managers and entrepreneurs’ stress levels. The author explains that work related stress is a growing concern, and excessive stress can influence productivity. The study included Romanian managers and entrepreneurs from Bihor County. The research method used was an online questionnaire, which included 75 managers and entrepreneurs. 40% of the respondents were entrepreneurs, and 60% were managers at all levels. In addition, 40% of the respondents were women and 60% were men. Ages ranged between 18 – 64 years with 73% of the respondents being within the 18 – 24 age range. Each participant answered 35 structured questions about stress. The conclusion of the study was that organizational stress is produced by a multitude of outside influences including social status, family, relationships, and personal problems. 85% of the respondents considered work to be the main factor in their stress lives.

The study can be used to develop professional skills of managers and entrepreneurs. By promoting their skills, leaders can be prepared to adapt to new technologies in the organization. The study failed to examine the social status, education, and family matters of the respondents. The study also did not mention the work environment, whether or not the work was fast or slow paced, external stress factors, how the respondents interact with one another, or how the respondents perceived stress and their work task. Knowing this information would show how different situations influence respondent’s perception of stress in their organization.

The authors did consider many factors during their study, and the results were informative in highlighting how common stress is within organizations. Moreover, the results were impressive at presenting the number of respondents who came to the realization that they had no measure of combating their stress. By further demographically segmenting users, the study would show better results that could be filtered by the respondent’s social status and personal stress factors. The study was successful at examining stress from a different perspective of leadership type versus employee outlook. Considering leaders have different stressors than employees, this information can be useful in creating or improving leaders’ health and satisfaction within the workplace.

 

Yong, M., Nasterlack, M., Pluto, R., Lang, S., & Oberlinner, C. (2013). Occupational stress perception and its potential impact on work ability. Work, 46(3), 347-354. doi:10.3233/WOR-121556

The study was conducted to examine perceived employee stress levels with different occupations measured by the Work Ability Index (WAI). The study was done to investigate the impact of stress and workability. The study was completed through a survey questionnaire among 867 volunteer participants in Ludwigshafen, Germany. 653 of the participants completed the 38 close-ended questionnaires, which included questions directed at the individuals perception of safety in the workplace, health status, frequency of stress, job demands, time pressure, and work life balance. The study showed that occupational stress was perceived different within occupational groups. While some participants felt stress from health concerns, others felt stress tension from time pressure, and work life balance. Perceived occupational stress did show to have an impact on WAI.

A concern with the study is that the demographics of the users may have had an influence on the results. Among the 653 workers included in the analysis, 11% were managers, 39% skilled worked and 50% frontline operators. 80% of the managers and professionals were 40 and over in age, and only 20% were women in administration and 10% in management. Combined with additional studies, the results have been inconclusive, and this may be attributed to the employee’s occupational status. The study failed to mention the hours worked by respondents, the social status, lifestyle, or if they had health issues that may influence the results. Considering the study was given to only volunteers, rather than random selection, the results were likely not as effective or reliable.

The authors are experienced leaders and educators with previously published work on a similar organizational stress subject that focuses on occupational stress perception and its impact on employee’s health. The research and study done by the authors did present good material, particularly in examining the respondent’s perception of stress. However, without properly examining the lifestyle, and social status of the respondents, it would be difficult to validate the points within this study. Nonetheless, because of the vast number of respondents, the study was successful with comparing personal pressures, and perception of the respondents to organizational stress.

Sell what sells

Give them what they want

As a business, you need to focus your marketing campaigns on what generates sales. The best campaigns are those that influence product purchases. If consumers dislike the campaign, but it sells products better than favored campaigns, then the advertisement would be considered a success.

The goal of any campaign is to generate sales. The ideal campaign should build trust, influence sales, and generate brand awareness. Your business should target and adapt your marketing strategies to focus on what consumers want and will purchase. The consumer is the ultimate power broker within any organization.

Your business should structure its marketing efforts on identifying and meeting the consumers’ individual needs. Those needs must be met within all aspects of the business, including price, customer support, and overall value.

Defining a Transaction & Transformational Leader

Transformational and transactional leadership styles are models used by organizations to asses leadership styles. Transformational leadership style is based on social exchange and transactional style is based on economic exchange (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010). The style approach is an understanding of how leaders approach and manage their employees and subordinates. Assessing the style will help determine the leaders style of management (Northouse, 2013). The style approach is used as a method to determine how leaders combine the behaviors of task and relationship. Task behavior leaders use goals as a method of motivating group members. Relationship leaders use comfort as a tool to motivate (Northouse, 2013).

In building leadership trust, both transactional and transformational styles are important predictors (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010). Studies of leadership assessments have shown that using these leadership styles does have an impact on the leaders as well as the followers or employees. Leadership styles have been proven to be linked to employee performance, behavior, mood, attitude, and organization commitment. (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010; Strang, Kuhnert, 2009). If leaders have an understanding of the type of style they are, they will be mindful of their actions and behavior toward others. Assessments can be helpful for leaders to assess their actions and make improvements within their leadership style (Northouse, 2013). Knowing a leaders style can be useful for gaining insight into the challenges and complexities of leadership. Considering the results of the style assessment have been inconclusive across many different studies, the style approach has not produced a solid plan of action that can be used by leaders to produce a positive and thriving workforce (Northouse, 2013).

Both transactional and transformational leadership styles may lead employees to better trust their leaders. In a studied organization, Implementing assessments of leadership styles have been proven to be effective at increasing individual outcomes and trust in leadership. Leaders, trainers, and managers can use the style approach assessment as a way to instruct leaders and managers on how to be effective in the work area (Northouse, 2013). Leaders can use the assessment to create customized plans and development programs. Through the help of the style assessment, leaders can implement ways in which the employees can transfer over what they have learned into the workplace. If done properly, these techniques should foster positive growth within the organization by creating a quality bond between leaders and followers (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010)

I believe that the assessment can be just as helpful as a quarterly or weekly meeting with team members. In this sense, I don’t see this assessment any different than a normal question and answer meeting amongst team members and managers. If this assessment inspires and promotes conversation, then it can be deemed a good tool for building relationships within the workforce. However, I don’t believe the assessment is the key to building success of the leaders and followers. The successful relationship is likely due to the conversation, open communication, and self-awareness. If the leaders and followers do not have solid communication skills, then the assessment would not be effective. If they do have a relationship with good communication, then the assessment can produce positive results.

 

Credits

Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Ismail, A., Mohamad, M.H., Mohamed, H.A., Rafiuddin, N.M., & Zhen, K.W.P. (2010). Transformational and transactional leadership styles as a predictor of individual outcomes, Theoretical and Applied Economics, 17(6), 89-104. Retrieved from www.ectap.ro

Strang, S. E., & Kuhnert, K. W. (2009). Personality and leadership developmental levels as predictors of leader performance. Leadership Quarterly, 20(3), 421–433. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com

Customer Profiling

Customer profiling is a behavioral relationship marketing technique which involves a variety of marketing strategies ranging from simplistic to complex. Customer profiling begins with the identification of data associated with satisfied existing customers and then uses that data as a basis to target new prospects with similar profiles. The profiles of customers can be categorized in multiple ways according to influential variables present in their profile.

Profiling consists of determining the characteristics and demographics of customers. Identifying demographic profiles of current customers may help your business strategize ways to attract new customers and generate higher revenue through targeted marketing strategies. To gather demographic information from existing customers, your business should track sales data and other customer related information to help determine the ideal customer for your business.

Customers have unique preferences and needs and segmenting allows for managing customers based on their individual or grouped characteristics. Invalid segmenting could produce dissatisfied customers. Customer profiling should be the basis of your segmenting strategy and has proved to be the most useful strategy in customer acquisition.

Cultural Uniformity. Although it is rarely discussed in smaller businesses, analyzing the cultural differences between your customers can help in developing targeted marketing strategies. Cultural differences naturally exist and can greatly influence your marketing. Cultural differences may include customer locations, beliefs and cultural norms, lifestyle, income, and many other psychographic and demographic parameters. Additionally, it is important to consider online customers and the environment and culture of your website visitors as they often have a wider reach than brick-and-mortar locations. No matter the location, you may have to acknowledge cultural differences if you decide to change the way you do business, or if you plan to expand online, or to another region.

The targeted customer for your business was likely determined by who your business would like to attract. You should target your marketing efforts toward those individuals and businesses who would most likely utilize your products or services. If you want all customers and ethnicities to purchase services from your company, you may need to analyze your marketing strategy and determine how to make it attractive for all groups and cultures. The best method to understanding your customers is to conduct marketing research, which is discussed later within this book.

Website Traffic, Is It Alien Or Human?

There are two ways to gain customers for your website or business. The first way is to pay for it. You could easily pay a marketer, advertiser, or branding company and gain customers that way. The other way is to earn your customers. This is the way that I believe works best and the one that I practice. To earn customers, you must get to know them. You should know where they go, which websites they visit, and local events they attend. This doesn’t just consist of putting your name and business card in these locations, but it involves you interacting with them and finding a true understanding of their lifestyle and preferences, and what it is that they desire from a business such as yours.

Alien Traffic. A study by Incapsula, one of the leading web security services and optimizers, unearthed that more than half of your website traffic could be alien. Not exactly the ones portrayed in War of the Worlds, but maybe. The findings released suggested that around 31% of website traffic was harmful and includes spammers, spies, scrappers, and hackers.[1]

Then there are the 20% of friendly visitors such as Google Bot as well as other search engine indexers. What this means is that analytics do not provide the whole picture and human visitors are not alone prowling the internet. To mitigate this, you should make security a part of your online marketing undertaking and tighten your website content with relevant keywords for the friendly indexers so your website is pulled by more human traffic based on the intent of website visitors.

 

[1] http://www.bizepic.com/2014/12/19/shocking-half-website-traffic-2014-bot-traffic/

Bottom of the Pyramid Markets

The goal of developing and growing bottom of the pyramid (BOP) markets is to create mutual value between businesses and the community. To market within the BOP market, radical innovation is necessary in order to modify products and make them affordable for people of all income levels. The problem with this strategy, however, is that companies often fail to consider the perspective of the poor themselves. Businesses that mainly focus on top of the pyramid (TOP) markets are more likely to fail within the BOP market, as products created for the rich are not suitable to the poor. Consequently, the BOP market requires company’s to create unique business strategies for the BOP market in order to produce effective results.
 
Within the BOP market, companies have to determine new solutions on attracting the consumer and then provide an affordable solution. To get products to the BOP markets, company’s can consider the sachet revolution; a marketing approach used to package items within sachets that make them affordable to the poor. Additionally, companies should partner with local leaders within BOP markets to help with implementing a strategy. Microsoft is a company that generates activities targeted at emerging markets including the BOP market. The company partners with local governments, organizations, educators, and community business leaders to implement software and hardware into employment areas and the education system to help improve lives. Nonetheless, there is no single solution for creating a successful BOP market strategy and achieving success. Technology, global standards, and global scales must all be utilized to help solve the poverty problem. Firms operating in the BOP market have to utilize unique strategies to reach the market and learn how to do more with less.    
 
Income, prices, savings, debt, and credit availability determine economic purchasing power. The economy has strong impacts on consumers and businesses that are geared at particular income-based segments of users. The goal of the marketing firm or marketing consultant is to develop strategies that influence consumer purchases. Consequently, the marketer is responsible for creating strategies that can reach the desired consumer no matter the income level or location. Although the BOP market does create risk and obstacles that may be outside of a marketer’s comfort level, it does not mean that the market should be avoided for an easier, more convenient market. Within a BOP market, firms and marketers need to innovate and create unique strategies and products that reach the market and consumers. Within innovation, markets get ignored and business, and individuals are left at a disadvantage.       
 
Information and communication technology (ICT) can assist with developing bottom of the pyramid (BOP) marketing goals. Company’s can achieve their BOP market goals by creating strong relationships and open communication between local partners within the BOP communities. ICT can contribute to economic development and poverty reduction. ITC assists individuals and companies grow their economy, build opportunity, and increase process efficiency. If people within BOP markets do not have the opportunity to take advantage of new ICT applications, they will be disadvantaged or excluded from participating within global communication. In many parts of the world, ICT contributes to revolutionary changes in businesses and everyday lives of the poor. Providing BOP markets with the opportunity to use technology to communicate with one another and across the globe creates strong social and economical impacts. However, corporations deal with many risks as they attempt to restructure their business strategies, processes, and implementation into BOP markets.   

Qualitative research methods

Qualitative research methods work to understand and discover experiences, perspectives, and insight of participants (Hiatt, 1986). An advantage of a qualitative approach is that study participants are not constrained to a predetermined set of responses (Harwell, 2011). A downfall of the study in regards to collecting data is that it is expensive considering the amount of time needed to collect the data. Qualitative research consists of using lived experiences and interpreting the phenomena (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).

Quantitative research methods focus on increasing objectivity and typically interested in future prediction (Harwell, 2011). Features of quantitative research include instruments used for collecting data, which often include test, reliance, probability theory, and surveys for analyzing statistical hypothesis that relate to research questions. Quantitative methods are considered deductive in nature considering collected data create general inferences about the characteristics of a population (Harwell, 2011). A quantitative method often makes assumptions that there is only a single truth that exist, which does not include human perception (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). A quantitative approach is beneficial for gathering information. The problem with this approach is that it does not cover the reason for why certain data concluded in a certain manner.

Mixed methods combine qualitative and quantitative methods by linking their differences while addresses a research question (Harwell, 2011). The key principle of mixed methods is that various forms of data should be collected by using multiple strategies and methods. The methods should assist with reflecting complementary strengths and weaknesses that do not overlap. The mixed methods study should create insight that is not possible with only a qualitative or quantitative approach. Mixed methods produce opportunities for approaches with weaknesses and presents opportunities by correcting method biases (Harwell, 2011). Mixed methods approach uses balance for efficiently collecting data. The concern with using a mixed methods approach is that the method struggles to complement, and not duplicate each approach (Harwell, 2011).

Research study methodologies are characterized as either qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of both, which is referred to as mixed methods. Of the methods, neither can be considered the best method without factoring the goals and objectives of the research. Research that desires to focus on interviewing lived experiences of participants should use a qualitative approach (Harwell, 2011). In contrast, a mixed methods approach should be used for research that needs a combination of qualitative and quantitate approaches to justify the goals and objectives.

 

Additional Resources

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Introduction. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 1–29). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. doi:10.1108/09504120610655394

Hiatt, J. F. (1986). Spirituality, medicine, and healing. Southern Medical Journal, 79, 736–743. doi:10.1097/00007611-198606000-00022

Harwell, M. R. (2011). Research design in qualitative/quantitative/mixed methods. The Sage handbook for research in education. 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 147. doi:10.4135/9781483351377.n11

Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. doi:10.1177/144078338702300329

Work Productivity

Performance is dependent upon satisfaction toward the party most benefitted. Additionally, the ethics of the organization and its leadership have a tremendous affect on the morale of the employee. If morale is down, then work productivity may also slack. According to a research by Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, and Chukwuanu (2014), 75% of employees have no desire to work for a company with poor organizational ethics. Additionally, research has discovered that leaders are responsible for creating healthy environments by supporting  employees (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009). Leadership is crucial when developing productive employees and influencing employee morale and satisfaction. To implement and maintain morale, leaders should place importance on stress prevention programs and develop effective communication methods with employees to discover and address issues regarding dissatisfaction and ethical dilemmas (Chekwa et al., 2014). Additionally, research has discovered that leaders are responsible for creating healthy environments by supporting  employees (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009).

 

Additional Readings

Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: current theories, research, and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 421–449. doi:10.1177/0149206310393520

Chekwa, C., Ouhirra, L., Thomas, E., & Chukwuanu, M. (2014). An examination of the effects of leadership on business ethics: Empirical study. International Journal Of Business & Public Administration, 11(1), 48-65.

Mentzer, J. T., Myers, M. B., & Stank, T. P. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of global supply chain management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Disruptive Technology in Business

Disruptive Technology (DT) is a powerful means of broadening and developing new markets and providing new functionality, which, in turn, may disrupt existing market linkages (Christensen, 1997). DT is when a new technology upsets the way that things have been done. The radio replacing the newspaper, or the television replacing the radio as a source of news is DT. DT is not when a single event occurs that disrupts things. It is when a process plays out over time that causes new technology to either replace or reduce the use of an older method.

I believe that DT is beneficial to businesses and individuals because it offers more opportunity to me as a consumer and it causes product innovation at a better value. By not adopting DT, individuals and businesses could be potentially missing opportunities for a financial gain and powerful tools that could make their life or business more productive. The concern I have with DT is that it oftentimes takes me away from having to think for myself. An example would be a calculator replacing the deep analysis of problem solving, digital navigation systems causing its users to not have to remember directions, or a cell phone contact list that makes it so that I don’t have to remember a phone number. With so much dependent upon these technologies that we rely on to help us in our day-to-day, we can become lost without the benefits that DT has created. The benefit for me and why I appreciate DT is because I enjoy looking for new technologies to make my life easier so that I can spend more time on the things that matter to me most.

DT is not always created to remove or replace an older method; it creates an alternative to the way things are done. It creates typically simpler, more convenient, and less expensive ways of doing things (Christensen, Baumann, Ruggles, and Sadtler, 2006). DT is usually a result of the desire to make things easier, faster and convenient. Hence, landline telephones and traditional mail services now have email and cell phones. Not everyone has or will adapt to DT. Just as cell phones have not fully replaced the landline, DT ultimately could have a major impact on an existing market without totally displacing it (Schmidt and Druehl 2008). Not everyone uses the Internet or mobile device in place of reading a book, looking through a map, or earning a degree. Many people still select to drive a car, take a train, or travel by boat to get to their destination. There are however ways in which DT have caused those unwilling to adopt it, to have to have to make sacrifices. Video streaming services Redbox and Netflix have caused brick and mortar businesses such as Blockbuster to close shop because of Blockbusters inability to create or adapt to DT. Digital photography caused film to practically become obsolete. DT introduces threats to existing ways, but also opportunities for new sources of competitive advantage (Markides, 2006). The benefits of DT go to the risk takers. Without being willing to take risk, the individual or business would never accept DT.  Risk taking however, can have negative impacts if it is not executed properly and with a plan. For small businesses, the possible financial loss could be detrimental to the business. In order for DT to be successful, small businesses and individuals must weigh the benefits. Without proper knowledge and training on why DT is needed or how to use it for success, the transition will likely fail and DT will disrupt business.

Credits

Schmidt, G.M. and Druehl, C.T. (2008). When is a disruptive innovation disruptive? Journal of Product Innovation Management, 25, pp. 347–369.

Christensen, C.M. (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston, MA Harvard Business School Press.

Christensen, C. M., Baumann, H., Ruggles, R., & Sadtler, T. M. (2006). Disruptive innovation for social change. Harvard Business Review, 84(12), 94–101.

Markides, C. (2006). Disruptive innovation: In need of a better theory. Product Innovation Management, 23, 19–25.

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