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The 4 Cs of Change Communications

7 Sep

Communicate Cost-Cutting Measures with Care

Kate3

Guest Contributor:
Kate O’Neil Rauber, Vice President of Public Relations

It was a record year for mergers and acquisitions in 2015, and 2016 is expected to follow suit. Experts also say certain industries will be more susceptible to layoffs, including tech and oil.

Whether companies are thinning teams to avoid M&A duplication or right-sizing staff in order to regain financial footing, executives must communicate cost-cutting measures with care.

“Survivors,” or those who remain with a company after massive changes, tend to have three initial thoughts:

First, shock. They can’t believe it’s happening. They may even be worried about having lost a close work friend.

Next, survivor shock quickly shifts to me. As in: Am I next?

Finally, there’s workload. Meaning, how much more work will I have to do now that others are gone? Or, how will I get my current projects done without a critical member of the team?

Understanding the survivor mind frame, executives communicating tough change management messages should embrace the four “Cs”:

1. Compassion: Someone is either losing a job or getting more work — when they already feel overworked. Show compassion and appreciation for everyone impacted. Remember, you’re talking about someone’s livelihood.

2. Candor: The story behind why this change is being made must be crisp and paint a compelling business case. Fluff and spin have no place here. Remember, employees will be looking to executive leadership — you — for answers.

3. Clarity: Paint the vision for where the company is headed. The initial sting hurts. But, (most) survivors will get on board if they understand and believe your vision. Remember, jobs have been lost and workloads have ballooned. Overnight.

4. Confidence: Survivors need to believe you. They want to know that in your bones, you believe this change is the best thing for the company. Remember, confidence is not the same as arrogance; one attracts — the other detracts.

Cost-cutting measures should be communicated with care — whether it’s a right-sizing, restructuring, downsizing, or another corporate code word for layoffs. You can’t merge corporate cultures or right the financial ship without your survivors on board.

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Content Marketing & SEM: Stats Any B2B CMO Should See

5 May

Why Content Marketing Should Be Part of Your Digital Strategy

SEO and Content

Content marketing. Heard of it? If not, you probably haven’t been reading much Navigate-the-Channel. We’ve spoken a lot about how content is an incredibly effective B2B strategy to provide more information to customers at the early stages of their buyer’s journey, establish companies’ trust and expertise, and ultimately, drive more sales.

That’s all well and good, but there are other issues that B2B companies need to consider when it comes to their content strategies. Issues like Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, in which major search algorithm updates will affect the way search engines deliver the highest-quality results to their users. If your website can’t offer relevant content to those users, you can bet that your website will literally be bumped down the page, hidden under a pile of search results from companies that were just a little smarter than you about integrating content marketing into their strategies.

A recent article from Search Engine Land drew my attention because of its insights regarding content marketing and SEM. Here are a few standout facts that B2B companies should read before planning their content strategy:

  • More than 60-70% of content goes unused, meaning companies need to work to better understand who they’re writing for and why by conducting an audit of buyer personas and journeys.
  • B2B companies should prioritize utilizing a Content Management System (CMS) that integrates authors, topics, and keywords. For Adobe, switching to an SEO-friendly CMS resulted in a 307% increase in organic traffic within a year and a 287% increase in rankings on Page 1.
  • Don’t forget design—content needs to capture attention to be effective. Images, video, website design, and aesthetics are important contributing factors when it comes to “moving the needle” and shouldn’t be underestimated.

As Google continues to demand more and more from websites, it will become critically important that B2B companies fill their sites with the high-quality, relevant content users are searching for. You need to make sure that you’ve not only done the research to find out what your audience is looking for online, but that your content is written and created to deliver to those needs. SEO, therefore, is a critical component of your content marketing strategy.

Or it’s not. But if it’s not, you better enjoy Page 2.

 

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Book Review 1/3: Built to Sell

1 Mar

Building Something with a Life Beyond You

As part of a blog series, I’ve decided to complete three reviews of three separate books. The books are about topics like marketing, business, and leadership. My goal with this series is to draw out some teachable lessons for anyone attempting to grow—personally, professionally, or otherwise. In this blog, I will cover some humbling lessons that leaders, business owners, managers, etc. can learn about creating a business and developing people to be able to grow independently of their leadership.

It’s a relevant topic to almost anyone with direct reports or a business to be accountable to. Haven’t you ever wondered how you can create a department or a company that can thrive without you? If you aren’t a business owner in the building materials segment, do you run a department or product category? Could some of the same principles necessary to generate a sustainable business work in this scenario—one without you?

To that end, I recently finished reading a book titled Built to Sell by John Warrillow. What a fabulous read. Throughout the book, John offers valuable insights and tips to help the reader build a sustainable business or department that can continue on without the leader.

I’ve compiled a few of the tips I found most interesting—and if I’m being honest with myself, the most humbling as well.

  1. Don’t generalize—specialize. If you focus on doing one thing well and hire specialists in that area, the quality of your work will improve and you will stand out among your competitors.
  2. Owning a process makes it easier to pitch and puts you in control. Be clear about what you’re selling, and potential customers will be more likely to buy your product.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you are serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.
  4. Hire people who are good at selling products, not services—even if you are in a service business. This expertise leads to scalable solutions as opposed to all customized one-off solutions.
  5. Build a management team and offer them a long-term incentive plan that rewards their personal performance and loyalty.
  6. Think big. Write a 3-year business plan that paints a picture of what is possible for your business. Remember, the company that acquires you will have more resources for you to accelerate growth.
  7. Always know your pipeline prospects and what their worth is to your company. This metric is essential to be on top of market opportunity and your potential for a percentage of that.

Don’t take the book too literally—this concept is not just about business owners and it’s not just about selling; it’s about leadership and creating something sustainable beyond you. Elton and I aren’t trying to sell ERM, but the lessons from this book are ones that any business owner, manager, or leader attempting to make something bigger than themselves can learn from.

Whether you own a business or manage a department, these are tips that should influence how you approach the work if you want to create opportunities for long-term success. At the end of the day, none of us can be in our roles forever. The more you can do to lay the foundation for success, the more poised for success you—and the business—will be.

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