Page 1

Volume 3 | Issue 3 | Third Quarter 2012

VISION

EXECUTION

MARKETING GOAL SETTING WINNING

YOUR PEOPLE

PLANNING TRIUMPH

GROWTH

SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES

WIN

SAVVY

ANALYSIS

ACHIEVEMENT

THE PLAN

ACTION PLAN

Volume 3 | Issue 2 | Second Quarter 2012


2

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012


WINNING

VISION

XECUTION

GOAL SETTING

PLANNING TRIUMPH

GROWTH

SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES

WIN

SAVVY

6

CC

6

ES

S

TE GY

Leadership

SU

RA

5

ANALYSIS

Letter from the Editor

ACHIEVEMENT

ST

ACTION PLAN 10

Cover Story

12

Industry News

14

Book Report

21

Customer Relationships

22

Social Media

24

Customer Loyalty

29

TIO EC U

Sales and Marketing

N

Volume 3 | Issue 2 | Second Quarter 2012

EX

sections

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” ~Winston Churchill

12

22 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

16 3


Need to improve sales? Improve lead quality?

effective

Lower the cost of lead generation?

Worried about being left behind in social media?

Do you know where to start? We are here to help. Blytheco Advanced Marketing will help you take your business to the next level. We will help you increase leads, measure the results

ADVANCED MARKETING

and improve revenue.

www.blytheco/bam


LETTERFROMTHEEDITOR

BELLWETHER

A Blytheco, LLC Magazine Volume 3 Third Quarter, 2012 www.blytheco.com www.bellwethermagazine.com

STAFF

EDITOR Apryl Hanson CREATIVE DIRECTOR Greg Went

OPEN FOR AD

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alicia Anderson Dave Barret Joanne Black Christopher Gorrill Apryl Hanson Ginger Kittinger Cortez NaPue Greg Went Genie Whitehouse Bill Wiersma ADVERTISING SALES Dori Fitch SUBSCRIPTIONS www.bellwethermagazine.com Or contact Dori Fitch (800) 425-9843, Extension 1168 dorif@blytheco.com Bellwether Magazine is published by Blytheco, LLC with principal offices at: 23161 Mill Creek Road Suite 200 Laguna Hills, CA 92653 If you wish to be removed from the mailing list or to add names to the mailing list, send your request, including name, business name, and mailing address to the above address or to dorif@blytheco.com This is a copyrighted publication and all articles herein are covered by this copyright. Any use of the content for commercial reasons or other form or reproduction of material herein is strictly prohibited without prior, written approval of Bellwether Magazine.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

5


SU

CE SS LEADERSHIP

EX EC U

TIO

N

ST RA TE GY

C

R

egardless of perceptions to the contrary, most companies’ competitive advantage does not stem from a pure strategy ‘play’. There are a few, but not many.

Take Vizio, for example. The company is the #1 LCD TV brand in the United States while having fewer than 200 employees and more than $2.5 billion in sales. These remarkable results have been enabled by their unique “deverticalized” business model in their industry. For Vizio, most of the ‘moving parts’ (e.g. R&D, manufacturing, etc) that would typically be found in a similar consumer electronics company aren’t there. Instead, they’re leveraged through third-parties. It’s a really smart way to approach the business. In effect, Vizio’s strategy is centered around their business model---something from which they derive their competitive advantage. Few companies have been as diligent as Vizio in developing their strategy. To that point, Associate Professor Freek Vermeulen at the London Business School wrote a provocative article in the February 2012 online edition of Frost and Sullivan Growth, Innovation, and Leadership in which he stated that many companies don’t have an honest-to-goodness strategy. His article, The Five Reasons a Firm’s Strategy is Nothing More Than a Pipe Dream, is based on his dealings with large multi-national corporations--- not homespun mom and pops.

6

by Bill Wiersma

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

How many companies can you think of that are like Vizio that have developed a strategy so unique that their competitive advantage stems almost exclusively from it. Probably very few! The point being, the Vizio’s of the world are the exception. Said another way, there are few ‘silver bullets’ when it comes to strategy. After all, trade secrets leak, clever business models are eventually copied, patents expire, innovative technology can be reverse engineered, or critical knowledge workers get hired away. For the vast majority of companies their strategy is straight-forward and largely in plain sight. Take, for example, Southwest Airlines. Southwest’s aim is to be ‘THE low cost airline’ in the industry---it’s at the core of their strategy. Notice that their aspiration isn’t merely to be ‘a low cost airline’---they’re shooting for preeminence. From its inception, Southwest believed that low fares would be the strategic foundation for their success. They also believed that having fun at work (a great culture) and a positive customer experience (having a great brand) were important too. Yet, you won’t see Southwest adding


LEADERSHIP popular three course meals to the customer experience any time soon—because that would be at odds with their low cost strategy. What has proved essential central to Southwest’s low cost strategy is its ability to negotiate enviable fuel contracts and forge flexible labor agreements—both of which represent the carrier’s two largest expenses. It also helps to explain why the company only utilizes Boeing 737’s (operating only one type of plane dramatically reduces maintenance costs) and why their new routes are chosen with the expectation that they’ll prove to be high-capacity. Within an industry defined by anemic financial performance, Southwest shines like a beacon--- consistently achieving profitability for over thirty years. Southwest has a strategy. They stick with it, it’s coherent, they defend it. It works. Southwest’s strategy has provided them a dramatic competitive advantage. If something felt amiss in that last sentence…give yourself a gold star. A strategy (which, after all, is simply a well-researched idea) doesn’t give rise to competitive advantage per se. It can’t; it is only with execution the idea’s potential can be realized. In Southwest’s case, the ‘low cost’ approach is embedded in the culture. If one were assigning credit for the organization’s success---it rightfully should be attributed to both strategy and culture. Absent great execution, a great idea’s potential will always remain unrealized. Typically, great execution is a by-product of a great culture. That principle applies to operating companies (e.g. Southwest) just as it does to researched-based companies (e.g. Genentech) or, for that matter, any other type of company. In other words, strategy and culture are interdependent. The degree of interdependence varies, but for most companies culture is the prime engine that delivers the organization’s results. Simply put, “culture is the most important sustainable, competitive advantage of any company.” That’s how Flextronics, the electronic manufacturing services giant, sees it---that belief being foundational to everything they do.

When Disney bought Pixar in 2006 they did so primarily because of Pixar’s culture---not because of the unreleased blockbusters Pixar had queued-up in their production pipeline. Nucor and Amgen--both mentioned in my Bellwether First Quarter 2012 article-consider culture to be the key to their competitive advantage. This is surprising when one considers Nucor’s proprietary mini-mill technology and the abundance of Amgen’s world-class scientists. Let’s face it, strategy development is especially compelling. It’s the ultimate intellectual challenge for type ‘A’ business junkies. Create the ‘silver bullet’ strategy (i.e. Vizio) and the world will be your oyster—or so the thinking goes. Yet, in spite of strategy’s strong emotional appeal, culture typically outranks strategy in importance in contributing to a company’s competitive advantage. “Culture eats strategy for lunch” is a popular catch-phrase in the consulting world. This quote is often attributed inappropriately to Peter Drucker---the legendary management guru. Nevertheless it stands to remind us of how important culture really is. Lest you think I’m sharing these perspectives to de-emphasize strategy---I’m not. Absent a good strategy, you’ll ultimately fail. However, leaders often get obsessed with strategy---thinking that it’s the end-all, be-all. Usually, it isn’t. Strategies are often lessdifferentiated, less-sophisticated than we like to believe. The irony, of course, is that the much ballyhooed ‘strategy’ frequently gets one-upped by the more pedestrian ‘culture’ as the key driver of competitive advantage. It’s an important point, one that isn’t lost on savvy leaders that treat culture as an essential and indistinguishable aspect of their strategy.

About the Author Bill Wiersma is the principal of Wiersma and Associates, LLC, a consulting firm that helps leaders create cultures centered on professional ideals. His expertise has been featured in numerous media outlets--including the New York Times. Bill, the author of two critically acclaimed books, is a trusted advisor to executive leadership on senior team development and organizational culture. His latest book is “The Power of Professionalism”

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

7


LEADERSHIP

The Misconception and Missteps by Apryl Hanson of Virtual Teams What is the definition of a virtual team? Teams around the globe collaborate together towards a common goal, in real-time and in virtual time, with multiple ways of connecting together. Does this happen in small to medium size businesses? Should it happen more often? Virtual teams could become a successful strategy for your organization if done correctly. Most people would think that teams that aren’t located in the same office are what define a virtual team. While that may be true by simple definition, how that team manages work-load, establishes trust with each other, and achieves success long term will be dependent on the leaders that are present through the collaboration process and the tools that the team will use to stay virtualy connected to the end product. E-mail and video conferencing alone don’t make up a virtual team. Those are two elements or tools that can be used to make sure that collaboration happens. But most virtual teams are most successful if they have some actual face to face time, followed by project sprints to get things done. Video conferencing tools like GoToMeeting, Skype, Nefsis and Oovoo are bringing face to face meetings to your door instead of you having to get on a plane. I do still think that all teams need once to twice a year face time to keep momentum going and establish rapport - but if it is impossible you at least must have the option to see everyone on video conference. Something better than e-mail is required for true collaboration. Now there are options for online project management in a Saas (software as a service) model to give your team the ability to start discussions, assign tasks, collaborate ideas, and share documents. You can use something sophisticated and customizable like Microsoft Sharepoint or you can use something simple and inexpensive like BaseCamp or Workzone. We have tested out BaseCamp, a cloud-based project management system (Basecamp.com), and our team was working and collaborating together before I even formally announced that we were using it. It was simple and easy to use.

8

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

Think of virtual teams as more than just the employees that work for you. These days any implementation, new project or process may require you to work with others outside your organization. If you make those newbies feel like a part of your virtual team and you connect them with your tools and teams you are more likely to see success. The moral of the story is that you need to look at collaboration as a key strategy to make your virtual teams work and in this day and age you need to use virtual teams to your advantage by allowing work to happen in multiple places where high energy can be the driving force to your company’s success.


LEADERSHIP

Fostering

Creativity

in

the

Workplace by Apryl Hanson

C

reativity in the workplace is more important than you may think – it’s critical. When people get locked down into the details of their work, they often forget to pick their head up and regenerate their creativity. When anxiety sets in we move into fight or flight, and when that portion of our brain is active, we are not capable of creative thoughts and problem solving. Instead we get stuck in the weeds without a way to get out.

Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works breaks down what happens in your brain specifically to create thought. He started his journey by studying patients with left brain injuries and realized that although they seemed to function normally, they couldn’t tie two pieces of information randomly together to create unique new thinking or creativity. Lehrer writes “Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we’ve hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next. When we tell one another stories about creativity, we tend to leave out this phase of the creative process. We neglect to mention those days when we wanted to quit, when we believed that our problems were impossible to solve.” Creativity is fostered by placing oneself in a virtual box. Constraints and frustration are the breeding ground for creative thought. Usually it is after you

have stopped working so hard and stopped looking for that unique thought that creativity comes to you easily, as if no effort was needed to make it happen. Lehrer refers to poets as the perfect example of this concept – the constraints of the poetic form (the strict composition rules of the haiku, for example) mean they have to express themselves with the content – the words are where the magic happens.

‘find the box you need to foster your creativity.’

#blydea #55

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

9


Get and Keep Good Customers by Defining Your Credit Policy by Dave Barrett

I

n today’s business environment, one important guideline to review and communicate to your team is your company’s credit policy. It will take time to think and formulate a credit policy that attempts to minimize risk, while not stifling opportunities. A successful credit policy should include input from other department heads of your company, and should not just be written by the credit department. If a defined credit policy does not exist, then there may be conflict between sales and credit over what can and cannot be done for each customer. Sales will occasionally want to push through orders that appear worthy of the business to them, and credit personnel need to be objective in their assessment of any risks that they perceive. The credit department needs to be able to discuss and communicate their concerns clearly. This is much easier if done while referring to the company’s previously disseminated credit policy. the announcement of a restructuring where you may be paid back, but very slowly, as in a Chapter 11 proceeding. How would that impact your business? One large customer with slow payments can be fatal to a business. Even a very small number of customers who take longer than expected to pay may impact your net profit as additional expenses for business lines of credit may have to be utilized. New Challenges in Credit and Collections There are many things to consider when drafting your credit policy, such as: • How much credit can be given to new and existing customers? • What are acceptable terms for each level of credit score? • Is there any flexibility available for some customers that may request more than net 30 or 60 days? (It is also very important to make sure customers are informed clearly of the expected terms of their credit, make sure they are always in writing.) • Will credit checks take place prior to all orders, or for just certain dollar amounts? • Is there a credit score that is low, but does warrant the risk of doing even a small order to test the water and build the account up slowly if they demonstrate timely payment? What credit score would that be? • Does a certain credit score secure certain credit amounts? If so, what are they?

Ultimately you need to protect your company’s exposure and these are some of the areas to think about. Another area to consider is whether a certain large amount of credit should never be given, even if the customer is high profile and has a good credit history. The implications are that an account may pay much slower than expected, because of financial troubles that no one suspects. Consider

10

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

In recent history, companies previously never considered to be a credit risk needed government support to stay solvent. Prior to these bailouts no one would have ever considered GM, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Enron, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff, etc. to be liabilities. At one point, many of these companies were considered the “darlings” of Wall Street. We are living in a different era where things can literally change overnight. Because of this, you must play your credit exposure like a stock portfolio. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” It is easier said than done, however, as the 80 /20 rule still prevails, and is often the 90/10 rule, i.e. 90% of your business can come from only 10% of your customers. Today, situations can come up with any of your major accounts receivable customers quickly. What if they are unable to pay you back without the help of a government assistance bailout? This may be drastic thinking, but not out of the realm of possibilities. “Too big to fail” only works when government has the ability to assist. However, consider today’s government budget short falls at state and federal levels. Business owners, CEOs, CFO’s and controllers need to rethink credit risk and exposure in all customer relationships. Risks must be mitigated as much as possible. Surprises and “black swans” have the capability to show up at any time. Being prepared and thinking through where you may be vulnerable as a company, before key customers are in trouble, is a valid consideration.


SALES&MARKETING Timely Knowledge is Critical Business leaders today need to know more than ever before about the health of the business of their key accounts. Leaders must keep the pulse on what and how their major accounts are doing. Set up Google Alerts on these key customer accounts so you can get up to the date info pushed to you daily. Anything in the press or web regarding what these key accounts are doing or are having to deal with can be reviewed daily. “Justice Department investigation, product recall, missed earnings, etc.” - all red flags to be noted. This information could help influence a quick decision to put an account on credit hold, or at least to reduce the amount of credit to give them going forward. The flipside would be positive press to influence your decision to increase the amount of credit you give them. Today, more than ever, companies need to know about their customers, and they need to be agile in their credit decisions. Strategically Give Credit Know your profit margin and try to get a good portion of your cost to fill the order as a down payment. It is better to make a good portion of the paper you carry your profit. It would make sense to loosen up your credit parameters in this situation.

Also, be sure that your staff knows the difference between a bad credit score, i.e. someone who has demonstrated their inability to pay back creditors timely, and those with “limited information” on them, that reflects in a lower score. I have seen it very effective in many situations for my customers to take a new customer with limited credit history and references and start a small account with them, with limited dollars at risk. Many of these customers prove that they are worthy of more credit with timely payments. This type of an account can be one that builds up over time to be very loyal, as they remember early on that you were the first to extend a hand and give them credit. And they may thank you with their repeat business for many years to come.

new changes, things being done differently that could only be the result of lower cash flows, closing locations, offices, etc. Make changes to reduce your credit exposure when needed and increase it when you see worthy customer opportunities. Be proactive as much as is possible. Communicate clearly to the entire organization your credit policy. Seek a “buy in” from other departments as to what the new credit policy or procedures mean to them, if anything. Remember it’s more important who you decide to give credit to, and less important which collection agency you work with. Finally, in over 20 years of meeting with CFOs, controllers, and credit personnel of various companies, I have heard enough stories to know one thing. If you have a new customer who is asking you to bend the rules, and they are strongly demanding quick shipment, be careful. I have heard many stories of regret start with a description of a person who wasn’t the kind that they would want to have as a customer anyway. I would suggest that your entire organization recognize the possibility that many delinquent accounts start as a very demanding new prospect that is a bit overbearing in asking for extra things. They may ask you to “FedEx” the product. Or they may ask you to get their order processed faster than normal, possibly without enough time to do a proper credit check. This may end up being a sale you wish you had not made. If they are pushy, rude, wanting you to jump through hoops to satisfy them before being your customer, expect them to possibly be the ones that don’t end up taking your terms seriously. Being of good character is a trait that is important in credit assessment. That implies to them also being friendly, cooperative, and nice people. Someone of bad character manifests themselves as being rude, pushy, in addition to being a slow or no payer. Rude people and their companies do often show up as delinquent accounts. And nice people do too. However nice people, who pay slowly, usually run into financial problems due to unforeseen situations or simple poor planning that prevent them from being able to pay. This is why you must monitor the financial health of your key accounts. Knowledge of their business can be critical for yours. I have been told by many of my customers that some delinquent accounts could be seen with 20/20 clarity in hindsight. Watch for them and stick to your credit policies.

Business leaders today need to know more than ever before about the health of the business of their key accounts.

Get Your Credit Policy Clearly Defined In conclusion, think through your current credit processes and any large customers that could be dangerous liabilities, even those with sparkling corporate images. Get more familiar with your key account’s business, so that you can monitor the health of their business with online alerts. In some situations, try and talk to other key suppliers about them. You may pick up on any

About the Author For over 20 years, Dave Barrett has helped businesses optimize their accounts receivable management strategies and collections. Working with clients in the manufacturing and distribution industries as well as the banking, legal, accounting, and medical fields, he reduces exposure and internal expenses, while at the same time improving the billing and follow up process. Learn more about Dave by contacting him at (818) 458-4663, or dave.barrett@transworldsystems.com

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

11


COVERSTORY

A Successful Strategy is a Niche Strategy by Joanne Black

I

t used to be that you knew you were on your game if you targeted the holy grail of specific markets: the ultra-affluent, the latest and greatest tech companies, financial services, or professional services firms. When we read that a certain market was hiring, the Street was talking about them, and then everyone started targeting these markets. Suddenly they weren’t special anymore.

They really need us. But how much do we overrely on them?

The Multimarket Conundrum

It’s time to get out of the familiar and explore markets and pools less familiar (and less comfortable). I’m not suggesting that we leave our current clients—of course not. We need to pay attention to them, stay in touch, remember birthdays and anniversaries, send useful information, and—of course— ask them for referrals to people just like themselves. But we need to move on.

I’m not really sure how to draw the line between technology, professional services, and financial services companies. Too many choices exist within each of these segments. Technology can mean software, hardware, semi conductor, wireless, gaming, etc.—“technology” is too broad a category. And many times categories overlap. That really takes slices out of our client pie. This “blending” (or market crossover) dramatically diminishes our potential client pool. It’s time to consider changing pools. Familiarity Breeds Complacency Many of us don’t want to move beyond our familiar customer pool. It’s comfortable, easy, and accessible. It’s where we started, where we spend most of our time, and it’s what we know. But after time, it’s harder to pull success from overfamiliar territory. The familiar market becomes less valuable, less profitable, less… well, less of everything, except comfortable. (Where’s the value in that?) We love our long-standing, familiar customers: they spend money, are loyal, ask good questions. 12

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

Get Uncomfortable, Get Successful

There are two ways to get more business: 1. Do more business with existing customers 2. Find new customers

The Niche Is Nice: What’s Yours? Whether you run a solo business or lead a medium- or large-size company, the time is now to assess your market niche. What companies are thriving? Which ones are sinking? Where is your expertise? Which clients make you money?

To Niche or n


A stockbroker I know, George, focused exclusively on engineers. He loved engineers, because he understood their thought process. George studied engineering in school, and he had a great proclivity for numbers. He knew exactly how to communicate with engineers. (While this might drive some of us crazy, George was in his element.)

Think about your background and your interests and determine how you parlay those into new relationships, new niches, and new business for your company. When you establish a common interest, you connect immediately. The faster you dip into your connections and interests, the faster your niche client group accepts you.

In fact, the engineering community is tightly knit: the group that first worked with George referred him to other engineers. One engineer told his friends they had to talk to George, because “George understood” them. George quickly expanded his business because the engineers viewed George as someone they could talk to, someone who explained a complex solution in a concrete, systematic manner. George became known as the expert and the “go-to person” for engineers.

1. You earn the trust and respect of your niche client

not to Niche...

How to Develop Your Niche You don’t need or want just “any” business, you want the business that excites you and enables you to deliver solutions that actually deliver results. A welldefined niche is specific. Without the specific, you don’t have a niche, you have a pastime.

Three benefits of niche expertise:

2. You become the expert in your field, and clients recognize the power of your recommendations 3. You earn the right to ask for and receive referrals from your niche client Where’s Your Expertise? Find out and shout it out!

You get the picture: When you establish a common interest, your connection becomes immediate, and it’s significant. The faster you dip into your various connections and interests, the faster you become accepted and trusted by your niche client group.

About Joanne Black Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling. A captivating speaker and innovative seminar leader, Joanne is changing the business of sales. She is the author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust (Warner Business Books). Hit your numbers without hitting the phones, with less sweat and with results you can bank on. Visit Joanne at www.NoMoreColdCalling.com or email joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com or 415-461-8763.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

13


INDUSTRYNEWS

Gas prices and the impact on business

W

e all know that there are many impacts to not only businesses but direct to consumers as fuel prices continue to spike. According to Fox News last month, this is a trend that they feel will continue to spike this summer, especially after July when certain sanctions go into place pulling barrels off of the market which impacts the overall supply and demand of oil in the world. This will drive the prices to go up shortly thereafter. So what can companies do to keep the impact of gas prices at a minimum for their organization and customers? We have just a few tips you may or may not be using. 1. Some companies find that using tracking devices inside their trucks to monitor if drivers are using the most direct path is a successful way to keep on top of extra fuel costs that you may not need.

5. Monitoring the changing gas prices, or predicting when they go up, may allow you to modify pricing to your customers so that you can reduce the strain on your profit margins.

2. You may want to work with your customers to take on more inventory which will allow for fewer trips lowering the cost of fuel.

6. Utilize up and coming technology like Turbo Stak to reduce your fuel cost up to 3%. By working on economic fuel saving techniques 3% can add up to a lot of savings at the end of the year, and in a year in which fuel prices are predicted to be high, this year might be the time to implement this strategy. For more information see http://turbostak.com/about/.

3. Utilizing online apps like Internet Truckstop www. truckstop.com which has an app that shows you fuel prices along the route so you can plan to stop at places that have the least expensive fuels.

These are just a few of the tips we have picked up by reviewing experts information as well as our own customers. If you have a tip that you’d like to share please send it to us or tweet with a link and hashtag #blydea.

4. Pilot Flying J, http://www.pilotflyingj.com/fuelprices is another place in which you can check out fuel prices in a particular area on your routes so you can find the best deal along your trip.

14

by Apryl Hanson

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012


INDUSTRYNEWS by Ginger Kittinger

I

’m one of the lucky ones with an iPhone and on an AT&T Unlimited Data Plan before they changed the rules of the game. As long as I stay with them, they won’t change my plan – but is it really “unlimited”? There has been a lot of press lately about users being “throttled” or slowed down for using too much data during a billing period. One iPhone user beat AT&T in small claims court and was

New iPads are devouring data in a hurry, states Cecilia Kang

awarded $850 with his arguments against the throttling, but now

from The Washington Post. Watching videos on the new screen

AT&T wants to talk to settle the matter or they will shut down

can burn through monthly allotments with just a 2-hour movie –

his service (there are extenuating circumstances outside of data

users then have to pay for more data or hold back on using the

usage they are citing for this action) – he is not giving in to their

new iPad’s best features. Wireless providers are suggesting you

latest tactics.

use Wi-Fi networks whenever possible, but isn’t that what the

AT&T says that users still have an unlimited data plan, but if they use 3GB (gigabytes) of data or more in a billing cycle, they will

latest gadgets are for – to be able to use your device wherever you are?

see reduced speeds. Once they start their next billing cycle,

Now with 4G users added to the networks, analysts say it is like

speeds will return to normal. This affects only the top 5% of

jamming too many 18-wheelers on a highway with too few lanes.

network users for the most part AT&T states. So far I’ve been

Cisco recently predicted that the global use of data over mobile

lucky and have not had any issues, but I am not a high volume

devices will increase 18-fold in the next 5 years.

data user.

You need to be aware of how much data you are using – most

With more and more Americans gobbling up data at increasing

smartphones have an area that will show you how much data

rates and demanding faster networks – can the wireless providers

you are sending/receiving – my iPhone has it under the Settings

keep up? AT&T tried, but failed, to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion.

option. Also, most wireless users have an online account where

Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, has a $3.6 billion proposal to buy

they can review their current plan, see their bill and it also shows

airwaves from cable companies. The chairman of the FCC,

you how much data you’ve used, texts you’ve sent, etc. It is a

Julius Genachowski, supports putting more broadcast airwaves

good idea to review that quarterly. You can also stop into your

into the hands of commercial wireless carriers, but this may take

local store and they can show you history of your usage so you

years.

can get a good idea of how much data you use and if you need to upgrade your plan to avoid expensive overage charges.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

15


INDUSTRYNEWS

I

n this day in age there are by Christopher B. Gorrill so many new programs and gadgets, it can be hard to wade through them all. With I-this and Apple that and even Android Ice Cream Sandwich, it seems like the tech giants are even having difficulty with coming up with new names for everything that’s out there. Nevertheless, what’s out there is pretty neat and can be very helpful to any business or worker on the move. Here are our suggestions for the best gadgets and mobile apps of 2012.

Top Picks for 2012 Business Gadgets and Mobile Apps The Mobee Magic Feet Magic Feet is a wireless universal charging station for all your Apple devices. If you have an Apple desktop and use it often, this is a great tool to wirelessly charge your wireless keyboard, the Apple Magic Trackpad, and the Apple Magic Mouse. The device also provides four extra USB ports. A full charge from empty takes 10 hours and lasts about 10 days. An additional benefit of the Magic Feet is that you can use your devices while they charge.

16

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012


Cobra Tag G5

Analytics App

This is a great solution for someone who can’t find his or her keys or

Analytics App is an excellent solution to see the traffic on your website

phone. The Cobra Tag G5 is a sensor that attaches to your keys and is

directly from your iPhone. The app gives you access to a wide range

also a mobile app for your phone. The key sensor connects with your

of Google Analytics reports offering 55 types of report in an organized

smartphone and sets off an alert when they are separated by more

interface including custom reports for multiple accounts.

than 30 feet. If you are unable to find your phone, but have your keys, you press the sensor button attached to your keys and it will make your

Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite

phone ring. The same applies for lost keys – just simply use the mobile

The truth of the matter is that iPhone and Microsoft Office Documents

app. Pretty neat!

don’t generally work well together. Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite

BERG Cloud’s Little Printer

provides an excellent solution to fix that problem. It allows you to view,

This little printer gives you snippets from your online world in printed

also allows you to mount your iPhone as a wireless drive via Wi-Fi while

form. It is an inkless thermal printer that you can set up using your

providing you the benefit of instant file-sharing.

smartphone. Little Printer isn’t just a dumb pipe spooling out Twitter updates and RSS headlines. Powered by the BERG Cloud, each information source is a personalized ‘publication’ by selecting content via a remote-control smartphone app. You then get your mininewspaper delivered once or twice a day.

MyDitto Mobile Access Solution The myDitto flashdrive solution allows professionals to access their servers remotely. It is a simple cost-effective solution for a professional who frequently travels on business trips or for telecommuting employees. By inserting the myDitto flashdrive into a laptop, it safely accesses any critical file from the office network server through peerto-peer connection. It substantially reduces the cost of virtual private

edit, and exchange Microsoft Word and Excel documents on the go. It

The Roambi App It is often a challenge to make a presentation look great on a large screen. The Roambi App is a pretty neat App too that seamlessly transforms data into interactive charts and graphs. Additionally, it will send the transformed data directly to your mobile device. It is available on iPhone and iPad.

So, you might have noticed that there seems to be a trend in the development of mobile innovations. Doe this mean that the desktop and laptop are soon to be obsolete? Probably not. But it just might mean that people are working more and more on-the-go.

network (VPN) solutions. Additionally, it works on mobile handhelds running Windows® Mobile 6.1 and higher, Android, and iPhone using the my–Ditto remote access software app that’s free and secure.

Verizon Jetpack The Verizon Jetpack is an excellent solution if your team is traveling together for a day of meetings or is on an onsite project. It provides 4G wireless Internet for up to 10 devices. It works in over 200 countries too! The Jetpack also has an LED display to check settings and wireless signal.

About the Author

Christopher B. Gorrill is the Former Head of Bayer Business Services, Partner Service Purchase-toPay, Europe and N. America

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

17


INDUSTRYNEWS

Manufacturing Is it coming back to the USA?

A

s little as five years ago, American companies were convinced that competing for business in the new economy demanded offshoring – the practice of contracting with overseas laborers, particularly in China, to manufacture goods more cheaply using their plentiful labor and resources. When the economy boomed in the US, offshoring became a popular way for companies to meet the demand of cash-rich US consumers with the large supplies of inexpensive goods they demanded, particularly electronics and computers. Lately this trend seems to be diminishing as companies realize that, as the world gets flatter and Western economies struggle, they are able to serve their customers more quickly with better quality AND support the American worker by bringing manufacturing operations back to our shores. Labor rates in China are increasing – according to Harold L. Sirkin, a Boston Consulting Group Senior Partner in the August, 2011 issue of Inbound Logistics, wages in China are climbing 15 to 20 percent each year due to increasing demand for Chinese labor. He predicts that labor costs will “converge” with rates in the US by 2015. Concerns about exposing trade secrets and supply chain problems have also increased companies’ interest in making products here at home. Taphandles, a manufacturer of beer tap equipment, was featured in the October 16, 2011 Seattle Times as an example of a company who found it more profitable to manufacture at home. Paul Fichter, Taphandles CEO, says that “Chinese labor costs have increased 300 percent since 2006 when we opened our factory there.” He states that as the demand for Chinese labor increases, companies have had to not only increase wages to compete for the labor, but also provide expensive benefits to workers, such as dormitories and food. The company changed their offshoring strategy and opened a manufacturing plant in Woodinville, Washington last fall, as well as a plant near Chicago. 18

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

by Alicia Anderson A concern about quality of imports has also dimmed US enthusiasm for Chinese-made goods. China’s own government has admitted as far back as 2007 that some of its food products in particular did not meet safety standards, and the United States Food and Drug Administration has threatened to block certain foods from entering the county due to contamination and the addition of unsafe additives. Manipulating quality levels of products for export is part of Chinese business culture, and the lack of regulations or supervision over contracts leads to inevitable quality issues. Areas in the US where low-cost skilled labor is available compete strongly with China. States often sweeten the pot with abundant tax incentives, and right-to-work states like Alabama put a damper on union activity which can be a turnoff to companies. Alabama’s “Accelerate Alabama” program aggressively courts manufacturing businesses in 11 business sectors with free worker training and recruiting programs and tax advantages. So far they have won the business of German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp and a Chinese giant Golden Dragon Precise Copper of China, and gotten commitments on expansion from Hyundai, Honda, Boeing, Navistar, and others. If you would like to support reshoring efforts and American jobs, look for products that are made in the US when you make purchases. Websites like madeinusa. org and americansworking.com offer directories of American-made products.


INDUSTRYNEWS Businesses Going Mobile

by Alicia Anderson

“Mobile-first” is quickly becoming the strategy for companies of all kinds – tablet and smartphones will outnumber laptops and desktops combined by 2015 according to market intelligence firm IDC. Why mobile-first? Google leads the way, of course. In 2010, chief exec Eric Schmidt said: “We understand that the new rule is mobile first. Mobile first in everything. Mobile first in terms of applications. Mobile first in terms of the way people use things.” Is mobile first right for your small business? If you are selling to consumers, mobile needs to be part of your overall web strategy. Consumers have been taught to expect a positive buying experience from their phone or iPad – making it easy to buy your product anytime, anywhere, from any device, means you have fewer barriers to greater sales. A mobile presence may also drive more traffic to your brick-and-mortar store, since many phone internet searches are driven by intent to connect with a local business. Connecting your app to location-based services like FourSquare can help with brand exposure. The ROI of a mobile strategy is less clear for B2B shops. Consumer online activity is easier to manage, measure, and justify than B2B, but there are some ways in which B2B can make a connection with customers and partners. Think strategically about your buyer and what he or she might want from you via mobile. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Customizable event apps (such as those from DoubleDutch.com) for your trade show or conference help your audience navigate your meeting and feel more involved and connected. They also enable easy social sharing to promote your message. Networking apps similarly build community around your brand. ROI calculators are relatively simple to enable on mobile apps, and help your prospects build trust with your brand and get closer to your company. Content management apps – If you publish a lot of content on your blog our website, these apps will allow your customers or prospects to choose which categories of information they want, and set up alerts to let them know when this content is published. Get your own app! Do-it-yourself tools like AppMakr, Conduit, and MobiFlex allow small businesses to create functional mobile apps in minutes very inexpensively, though features or interface appeal may be limited. Having a professional create and maintain your app is considerably more expensive – it can range from $10,000 to $300,000-plus – but can reap rewards in user adoption.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

19


INDUSTRYNEWS

What’s in a Name?

Sage’s Name Changes in the U.S. by Apryl Hanson

I

f you are a Sage customer, by now you may have heard that there are name changes being put in place this year to some of the products you have grown to love and trust from Sage. We understand that this is disheartening for some customers, and Blytheco is here for you as you make this transition. In fact, our CEO Stephen Blythe has written his comments and notes to Sage on our blog (think.blytheco.com) in an effort to share with Sage and others the customer and partner perspective on the changes. What we are here to do for you is assist you with any confusion you may have as these name changes take place, with the next release of each software’s version update this year. Additionally, if you are planning on attending Sage Summit (the annual conference for Sage customers and partners) this year, the new names will be used at the conference as well. Below is a key to knowing which product name corresponds to your product.

20

Old Name

New Name

Sage MAS 90

Sage 100 Standard ERP

Sage MAS 200

Sage 100 Advanced ERP

Sage MAS 200 SQL

Sage 100 Premium ERP

Sage MIP/Fund Accounting

Sage 100 Fund Accounting

Sage Accpac 100

Sage 300 Standard ERP

Sage Accpac 200

Sage 300 Advanced ERP

Sage Accpac 500

Sage 300 Premium ERP

Sage MAS 500

Sage 500 ERP

Sage MIP/Fund Accounting

Sage 500 Fund Accounting

SageCRM

Sage CRM

Sage FAS Fixed Assets

Sage Fixed Assets

Sage FAS Gov. Fixed Assets

Sage Fixed Assets Government Edtion

Sage FAS Nonprofit Fixed Assets

Sage Fixed Assets Nonprofit Edition

Sage Abra SQL HRMS

Sage HRMS

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012


BOOKREPORT by Geni Whitehouse

I

f you have ever gotten in your car to go to the grocery store and have found yourself automatically heading in the opposite direction towards your office, you know the power of habits. Most of us don’t even have to think about our daily drive to work – our efficient

brains have created a neural pathway that stores the directions for us. Before we know it, our daily drive has become a habit. The books that follow look at habitual behaviors from three different perspectives as the authors show us how to overcome bad habits, create positive habits in an organization, and improve our brains by adding new experiences (instead of repeating old ones.)

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business | Charles Duhigg Duhigg has researched habits from a personal and business perspective. He examines habitual behaviors that make us prefer one song over another, choose to eat that cookie or not, and decide when to brush our teeth. He shares fascinating stories of companies who have applied their understanding of habits to successfully sell and market products. His story about Febreze® was particularly enlightening. The company created a product that could eliminate odors, but it wasn’t until they added fragrance that it started to become a best seller. It seems that adding a spritz of fresh scent at the end of each cleaning task became an addictive reward for many housewives. He shares the psychology of habits and explains why it takes more than willpower to overcome a bad one. Basically, if you want to change a behavior in your life or in your business, you need to understand three elements of the habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward.

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm | Verne Harnish Harnish pulls together research from successful companies to create an entire methodology. From managing cash flow to creating daily meetings, he covers every aspect of getting an organization aligned behind a central mission. He aims for simplicity and through a link to his website at gazelles.com offers a number of practical tools to help you implement his ideas. The key is repetition, especially when it comes to things like your core values – if people aren’t starting to make fun of you, he says you aren’t repeating them enough. While his approach can feel a bit rigid at times, his anecdotes from successful companies help make the ideas more palatable. Harnish suggests that business success depends on your ability to create and master key organizational habits.

Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind | Joe Dispenza Dispenza takes an altogether different approach to studying habits. His view is a personal one and begins with his own study of mind over matter as it relates to healing. From there he moves on to other aspects of brain function and illustrates how new experiences can help us overcome our genetic predispositions. He believes everyone has “the power to change or modify that habituated self.” By seeking out new experiences, focusing our attention, and observing our own behaviors, Dispenza shows us that we can improve our lives as we change our minds. About Geni Whitehouse A self-proclaimed nerd, former technology executive and CPA firm partner, Geni Whitehouse has made it her mission to eliminate boring from the world of presentations. The author of “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard,” Geni believes her mission as a presenter is to understand a subject well enough to approach it from an angle that will not only educate her audiences—but will resonate with them. Learn more at www.evenanerd.com.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

21


CUSTOMERRELATIONSHIPS

The Do’s and Don’ts of QR Codes by Greg Went

O

k, how many of you have taken the time to scan a QR (Quick Response) Code? How many of you felt rewarded for your effort? How many of you scanned the QR code at the top of this page? What compelled you to do that? Will the novelty wear off in a few years?

Enough questions. I think it is safe to say that most of us have all seen one by now, maybe not all of us have scanned one yet or have the technology available to do it (that is so 37 seconds ago!). I will dive into a brief history of the QR code, some of its uses and then some ‘do’s’ and some ‘dont’s’ of using QR codes in not just your marketing, but other areas of your business. So, you may think QR codes came about like, last year. Well funny thing is, they were actually invented way back in 1994. I find it amazing that something created almost twenty years ago is creating such a buzz today. Why is all that significant you might ask? Okay, then let’s pause here a moment on that. It becomes significant when you consider that same year YAHOO! was founded (I actually did not know that YAHOO is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” until doing research for this article… did you?). Also in 1994, Netscape Communications Corporation was founded (is that still around?), the JPEG standard was officially approved and a high quality, state-of-the-art digital camera would set you back about $10k. And to top it all off, you needed to lift weights in order to carry around your cell phone, which would only do one thing…call people. Back to the story. The QR code was invented by a subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Company called Denso Wave as a way for Toyota to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. It is a two-dimensional code as

22

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

compared to its brother, the barcode (actually, more like distant cousins as those were invented in 1967) which is one-dimensional. The cool thing is that Denso Wave did not choose to hog this technology that is now an ISO standard. Although it holds the patent on it, they have chosen not to exercise the patent, lucky for us marketers. Since the proliferation of ‘smartphones’ in everyone’s pocket, the QR code opens up a whole new channel for us to interact with our prospects, clients and customers. What are some of the uses of QR codes other than just making your marketing pieces look ‘oh so much better’ (eye-roll inserted here)? The uses are really as limitless as your imagination. Here are just some of the things that you can do with a QR code: browse to a website, bookmark a website, make a phone call (in other words you can have the person’s phone automatically dial your phone number), send a SMS, send a email, create a VCard in Outlook, automatically bring up your business location on Google Maps or Bing Maps, a Foursquare Venue URL, or just show free formatted text on their screen. We recently started using a code that will show you the almost exact location of where the person scanned your marketing piece on a map. This is nice so that you can get a feel for where a particular marketing piece had the most impact. So now that you have figured out what you want your QR code to do, what do you put it on? Again, the possibilities are endless here. Postcards, envelopes,


T-shirts (may want to consider using on the back only…think about it), bumper stickers, business cards (we recently started doing this using it to enter a Vcard entry into the scanners contact app), magazine advertisements, and the list goes on. Use your imagination. As with all good things, they come with the need for discretion. There are some do’s and don’ts to QR codes that should be considered. I have compiled a list here from other resources and from our own unique experiences.

QR Code Do’s: • Do place your QR codes on all of your marketing pieces IF and only IF they take the user online to something useful or of value to them. • Do offer discounts or other promotional incentives. • Do tell them up front what you are promoting, i.e., what is in it for them for taking the time to scan your masterpiece. • Do use lots of video (one of my favorite uses for QR codes). • If you are capturing information make sure it is just basic info. • Do know your audience. Some of us may have never seen one. Let them know how to use it, where to get the app to scan it. • Do give the URL that the code is going to just in case someone does not have a fancy phone to scan it with (they may have that vintage 1994 model). • Do test all of your QR codes thoroughly. Have others test them for you too on different phones and devices. • Do be creative and try new things!

QR Code Don’ts • Don’t put your QR Code on a billboard (Why? Think about it for a moment…) • Don’t link your code to a non-mobile friendly website, i.e., tiny type! Most of your scans will come from a mobile phone, some from a tablet. • Don’t ask for a ton of information if you have a fill-in form after they scan your code. How much do you like typing on your mobile phone? • Do not use more than one code on your marketing pieces or use multiple calls-to-action with the code. The CTA should be ‘scan for X’ and that is all.

• Don’t just link to your Facebook page or Twitter account no matter how much you are tempted, unless you have a unique offer for them.

In conclusion, QR codes are like the wild, wild west. It is a vast new (old) frontier that is beckoning marketers and business owners to it. Embrace it, don’t be afraid of it. Try new things and be creative. It is a great way to measure results with your marketing pieces, but only to a certain extent since not everyone has smartphones yet. Don’t let that hold you back though; everyone will catch up sooner or later. Now go out there and create a code! Here are some resources to get you started:

Here are my 2 favorite QR Code Generator Sites: (both free!) http://qrd.by/ (this one is becoming my all-time favorite right now. Has tracking) www.keremerkan.net (I started with this one and I still use) I have included these links (sorry for the length!) These are worth typing the link in. Very cool videos of QR Codes in action! http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/koreas-tesco-reinvents-grocery-shoppingwith-qr-code-stores-20110628 http://www.ubergizmo. com/2012/05/3d-qr-code-sculpturesdepend-on-the-sun-for-discounts-atcertain-times/ http://www.ubergizmo.com/2012/05/ guinness-glass-qr-code/

• Don’t assume that all of your audience knows what a QR code is! Explain it in small type; don’t let them feel left out. Give them another way to participate in the offer.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

23


SOCIALMEDIA

Why Not? P

interest is an online space where users can post images, “pinning” pictures to their virtual bulletin boards. Others can view the boards and repin images to their own boards. If a business has anything it can put into visual form, Pinterest can act as a marketing agent to expand the brand. For businesses, and especially consumer-based businesses, Pinterest offers an opportunity for promotion by Cortez Napue in a visually stimulating environment. If your business or products can be creatively displayed and can convey the personality of your brand, then Pinterest could be a good outlet for you. Here are eight ways to attract attention to your business using Pinterest:

5. Use other social nets to feed Pinterest

1. Invest the time

Connect your account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Not only will it help you gain followers, but making this connection adds social media icons under your profile picture that link to your Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Pinterest.com requires an investment in time. The key is to build relationships with those who are known for quality “pins” at the site. When these popular sites get to know you and your business, they will be more likely to post about your product. Focus on the users who get the most likes and repins.

2. Keep it simple The main appeal of Pinterest is that the site is exceptionally easy to use. Everyone has a “board” where they pin images that are all the same size. It is best to use Pinterest’s uncluttered aesthetic. Each pinned photo should include one link back your businesses site. Pinterest can dramatically boost page views on your site.

6. Launch a daily pin theme Create a daily pin to promote your brand. The idea is to come up with a catchy slogan that is tied to your business and is memorable enough so that the images get re-pinned. The daily themed pins usually lead to repeat visitors.

7. Promote more than products The temptation for any business is to post pins only for products you sell. One key is to post interesting news tidbits, tips, and products from other companies. Pinterest users are savvy in spotting a board that is too self-serving and only posts product photos.

3. Connect your physical presence with your online presence 8. Follow the big hitters It’s important to connect the dots between a physical location and your Pinterest page. Your physical store can feature online ads and Pinterest promotions. This will increase page views directly from Pinterest and direct sales.

4. Make sure your business is a match Pinterest caters to those looking for recipes, room décor, and do-it-yourself crafts although many small businesses have found great value in the product.

24

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

One of the best ways to raise awareness about your company is to start following the big names on Pinterest. This is the proven method on Twitter: When you follow popular figures, and they follow you back, other Twitter users get the message and follow the leader. It’s important to find out who is “pinning” your products and to follow them to see if they follow you back.


Are Past Due Accounts Making You See

Red?

Let GreenFlagsm Profit Recovery help put the fire out. Fixed fees of less than $10* an account No Commissions or percentages charged Best recovery rates in the industry *company average

Call Dave Barrett @ 818.458.4663 today for a FREE A/R analysis or email dave.barrett@transworldsystems.com

www.collections4less.com www.healingleaders.com

Geni Whitehouse SPEAKER AUTHOR CONSULTANT NERD She’s been called the “comedian CPA.” A self-proclaimed nerd, experienced software executive and former CPA firm partner, Geni Whitehouse has made it her mission to eliminate boring from the world of presentations. STRATEGY EXECUTION EVANGELISM CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

www.evenanerd.com

In this groundbreaking book, Wiersma outlines the seven key mind-sets of trusted professionals, offering a blueprint for both individuals and organizations interested in fostering a culture of professionalism. You’ll see how uncompromising professional standards led to unparalleled success for FBI agent George Piro during his game-changing interrogation of Saddam Hussein, for supermodel Kathy Ireland’s design and marketing enterprise, for the worldrenowned Dave Matthews Band, and for many more.

Available at Amazon.com

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

25


SOCIALMEDIA

Could SlideShare be a Hidden Treasure for your business? by Cortez Napue

S

lideshare is a business media site for sharing presentations, documents and pdfs. It features a vibrant professional community that regularly comments, favorites and downloads content. The content shared on slideshare spreads virally through blogs and social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

There are many benefits for B2B companies to use Slidshare:

1. Speed In most companies, several layers exist between the content owner and the website. Publishing to the website can be an inefficient process, especially when SEO and SEM justifiably commandeer the attention of most Web professionals. SlideShare bypasses the publishing system by allowing marketers to upload files, e-books, webinars, presentations, videos, images directly to a corporate-branded channel.

2. Leads This is a new feature in SlideShare Pro. If you insert a form into your content, SlideShare will capture the viewer’s profile and through its LeadShare API, automatically import the contact into SalesForce. com.

26

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

3. Feed Think of your content as the food supply for your prospects. You cannot expect to feed all of them with one source such as your website. Slideshare immediately gets search engine and social traffic.

4. Personality As a venue for expression, SlideShare fits somewhere between a corporate website and a staff Twitter handle. It gives brands an opportunity to reflect their personality more than they might on their own domain. Opportunity to upload slideshow tutorials of common processes saves you explaining how to do something over and over!

5. Customer Support If a customer needs to be walked through one of your processes your support team can then direct them to the correct tutorial on SlideShare.


How are CRM and Coffee Alike? You can customize both by adding...

Sugar is affordable and easy to use business CRM, designed to help your business communicate with prospects, share sales information, close deals and keep customers happy. Thousands of successful companies use Sugar everyday to manage sales, marketing and support.

Try SugarCRM FREE for 7 days!

www.blytheco.com/sweet

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

27


CUSTOMERLOYALTY

The Do’s and Don’ts of Surveys by Apryl Hanson

Y

ou’ve decided that you want to test out some new strategies, or that you want to know where you stand with your customers – what better way to do that than to put out a survey. So where do you start, what is the right way to deliver a survey, and how to you get data that is actionable? There are a few techniques I’ve learned along the way related to surveys.

Use the Ultimate Question. I highly recommend Fred Reichheld’s book, The Ultimate Question, in which Reichheld debunks common notions of how companies can predict future revenue. Along with Bain and Company, Reichheld came up with a measurement scale of 0-10 for responses to the question “Would you recommend XX to a friend or a colleague?” These responses can be used to determine your NPS (Net Promoter Score) which will predict how healthy you are as a company. For more information on NPS visit our blog at think. blytheco.com.

Use surveys to test strategies. The Ultimate Question works well when you are trying to better understand how you stand with your customer base, but what if you need to test out strategies that might help you move the needle with them in the right direction? Use a two question approach by first asking on a scale of 0-10 how important a particular 28

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012

product or service is to the customer. Then you need to follow-up with a question on how important that product or service is to their loyalty (also on a scale from 0-10). Responses typically over 7 in the loyalty department will help you move the needle. Initiatives that don’t score above a 7 will typically not help you increase loyalty and engagement with your customers.

Don’t throw every question possible into the survey. A survey that is too long reduces your response rate, and therefore reduces your actionable data. You should always ask yourself “What will I do with this data?” and if you can’t find a reason to ask – leave it off the survey. Break it down into mini-surveys or segment your customers to get actionable data. No one likes long surveys. If you wouldn’t take it, don’t ask your customers to.


Don’t game the system. Paying people to take a survey or telling them to score you in a certain way because you are looking for a certain outcome doesn’t give you actionable data or a prediction of anything. It actually wastes your time and your customers’ time and ends up making you sound like a car salesman. If people are compelled to tell you how they feel about you, they will. Take those results and do something with them, but don’t game your results because then you just have data that you can’t use.

Time & Attendance • Data Integration • Labor Costing • Security

Are inefficiencies in your time and attendance tracking causing a ripple effect in your business? We can help! Call today to see how you can have a robust time keeping system that seamlessly integrates to your accounting and payroll systems.

Follow-up. Don’t send a survey, and not follow-up with the responses that you have received. If someone is angry, call them. If someone is happy, thank them. For the general population that was fairly neutral on some subjects, give them an update on “here is what we heard, and here is what we are doing about it”. This goes a long way. Quite frankly, if you get survey data and don’t let your customers know what you are doing with it, they will be less likely to respond next time.

Take the data for what it is worth. Don’t try to turn the survey data into something that makes you feel better or sleep better at night. Don’t try to justify that they didn’t understand the question, or the customer didn’t answer it correctly, or that “particular” customer response is just from an angry customer. The responses are real, it is how people really feel about your brand, and sometimes that can sting a little. Good news – now you know and you have the ability to do something about it. Don’t use this as an opportunity to stick your head in the sand and never come up for air. “Momma said there will be days like this,” but you will get over it.

Celebrating 25 years of successful integrations

(800) 822-0973

www.SierraWS.com

BUSTED! Get your own copy! Stop sneakin’ a read. We’ve made obtaining a copy of Bellwether very affordable for a limited time. It’s

FREE!

Subscribe today at www.bellwethermagazine.com

Let the data guide you to do something compelling and wonderful. Be bold and find ways to connect with your customers so that you can enhance your brand and your profit.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

29


30

Bellwether Magazine | Third Quarter 2012


DRIVE AD BLYTHECO Smart business automation helps generate a better bottom line. Learn how integrating ERP, CRM, HRMS and marketing solutions drive revenue and reduce operating costs for a healthier bottom line and drive your business ahead of the competition.


5564 Hilliard Rome Office Park Hilliard, OH 43026 877.462.5984

Be sure to include Sage Summit in your Summer plans. Gaylord OprylandNashville,TN August14-17, 2012

Summit is where you can find Sage product learning, networking and NOW - education on Business Skills ranging from leadership to marketing to hiring. We're hosting the hottest party at Summit for our community - a 3-hour tour on the Music City Queen, complete with food, drinks, entertainment, a photo booth, games and prizes, and our first ever Client Awards Ceremony, where we recognize some very special Blytheco clients.

We want you to join us. Check it all out and register at

www.blytheco.com/summit

We’ll see you there!

Bellwether - A Blytheco Magazine - Successful Strategies  

In this issue we wanted to tempt you with strategies that we've researched so that you can give your business a fresh look. December and Jan...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you