Are you ready for the 21st Century Enterprise?

By Matt Preschern, CMO – HCL Technologies

Think of a national bank. Can you name its main competitors? If you simply listed rival banks, think harder. It has to fend off threats from Paypal, Square, SoFi and several lean start-ups that could jeopardize its business model with a cool, user-friendly app. And that’s not all. Threat looms from Apple, Amazon and Google, who are changing customer expectations dramatically with their digital and mobile payment services. Similar seismic shifts are playing out in virtually every business, from car manufacturers to airlines to healthcare companies. New digital rivals, epitomized by Uber and Airbnb, are derailing revenue and cost structures across industries. Not every industry is equally impacted by this disruption, but everyone is seriously concerned. Talk to any business leader across the world, and you will see these disruptive digital lean start-ups are a hot button issue. And they sparked some of the most invigorating discussions, while I was at the C-Suite Network Conference in Boston earlier this week. 

Millennials in the driving seat

Let’s step back a little and try to understand the forces shaping this massive wave of disruption. Millennials, the first generation of digital and social natives, are at the forefront of the action. Probably influenced by their always-on, multi-tasking, multi-device lifestyles, the digital-savvy cohort wants instant and personalized experiences. And they don’t shy away from sharing their brand preferences via digital and social channels. This generation is expected to spend $200 billion annually by next year and a whopping $10 trillion in their lifetime. That could motivate several companies to completely change how they interact, engage and address queries from customers.

Disrupt or get disrupted

This is a huge shift. How should you respond, if you are facing this volatility? Here is the mantra: Disrupt yourself and transform into a 21st Century Enterprise (21 CE) or get disrupted. Embracing digital, mobile, cloud and analytics is part of the picture, but there is more. To remodel into a 21 CE, your company needs to transition to a customer-centric and outcome-based model and adopt an agile and lean structure to continually adapt to a dynamic market. These multi-pronged transformations are not easy for large well-established companies with thousands of employees and assets worth billions of dollars. They need to completely overhaul their customer experience, operational processes and business models. Take outcome-based model, for instance. Companies that sell products will instead offer subscription-based services around their products. Their revenue won’t depend on the number of units shipped but on delivering solutions that directly produce quantifiable results. In the new business landscape, the transaction doesn’t end at the checkout or after a social media review of their experience.

Uber-proof your company

In an era where the relationship with your customers, employees and ecosystem is continually evolving, it’s important to lay focus on ‘how’ to make yourself uber-proof. Let’s take some time to look at few important changes one needs to embrace in adopting the 21 CE company culture and model:

 1.       Balance new power structures: Digitalization and other tech initiatives need a lean and agile structure that could break down silos and short-circuit lengthy corporate processes. This could rejig several departments and power structures.  

2.       Focus on experience: It’s not enough to give customers the product they want and when they want. Brands need a strong emotional connect that sets them apart in customer’s minds and hearts.

3.       Be consistent across touch points: A 21 CE organization needs to go beyond digital and provide their customers the same, consistent experience across channels, from web to social media to physical stores.

 4.       Personalize Interactions: It’s crucial to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. This requires advanced digital marketing tools and predictive analytics models that collect information, extract meaningful insights and then convert them into real-time and tangible business actions and outcomes in line with shifting market trends.

 5.       Reorient and Reskill: To survive and thrive in this environment, everyone in the team must ‘up their game”. This new age environment demands us to reskill for all key characteristics of 21 Century Enterprise across aspects of  economics, human experience, design, unified ecosystem and the 21st century buyer journey.

So, it’s a tough re-alignment. But make no mistake. It’s not optional. Since 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 companies have merged, been acquired, gone bankrupt, or fallen off the list as competition intensified and business models got disrupted, according to Constellation Research.  So, don’t be afraid to break things in order to make them better. There’s no other way to keep pace with today’s fast-changing world.

Commercial Cards Modernize the Payments Process and Enhance Supplier Relationships

Our competitive and global business climate requires C-level executives to maintain visibility into spending and constantly look for ways to make every dollar count. A payment strategy that relies on electronic payments is an important first step. As part of that strategy, you can take advantage of commercial card program benefits to drive down costs, forecast cash flow, optimize liquidity opportunities, and enhance valuable supplier relationships.

Consider that 50% of payables are still paper-based1 and each check costs, on average, $30 per item to process and handle.2   Commercial cards can be used not only for purchasing and expenses, but inventory and capital expenditures as well. 

“Progressive leaders looking to improve process efficiencies, cash visibility, and forecasting, recognize that making the relatively simple move toward using commercial cards is the logical solution for payments.”

–Ranjana Clark, Head of Transaction Banking, MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Download White Paper:

Learn more about transformative ePayables strategies: download the MUFG Commercial Cards white paper here.

About MUFG:
MUFG Union Bank, N.A. is a member of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), one of the world’s leading financial institutions. Learn more about our
Commercial Card program at mufgamericas.com/commercial-cards

Contact a MUFG ePayables specialist at 214-468-7829 or visit mufgamericas.com/commercialcards for more information.

1Electronic Payments Survey, Association of Financial Professionals, 2013.

2 Ibid.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about commercial card and is not considered advice from MUFG and MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

© 2016 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The MUFG logo and name is a service mark of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.

 

Want To Be A More Effective Leader? Listen

By John T. Hewitt, CEO and Founder of Liberty Tax Service

When it comes to communication, no one gets it right. It’s an essential part of every relationship, whether it’s a marriage, a partnership, a business, or an employer and employee. I don’t care if you have a Ph.D. in communications; I’ve never met a person who consistently listens or gets their message across. Even if you’re close and you try, things are taken out of context or misheard or misstated. Communication is something that no company and probably no couple have ever mastered.

Here’s the problem: human beings are communication stoppers. Every person I know wants to receive communication – they want to know everything – but they don’t give communication back. Information is power and people will hoard it. Whether or not it’s going to the trouble to say something or simply remembering to communicate at all, our desire to get information is greater than our desire to give it. There is no solution to our constant communication dilemma, but we can work at improving every day.

As an entrepreneur, you can never make assumptions. If you are not in direct contact with your customers on a daily basis, you have to communicate with the person who is. Successful business owners must listen to their employees. Those in authority need to pay attention to the troops on the ground.

Our Chief Marketing Officer, Martha O’Gorman, and I once flew to Kansas City to interview a person for the CFO position. Martha asked, “What is your management philosophy?” He replied, “Ours is not to reason why, but to do or die.” In his world, all orders come from above and you are not supposed to question them. Just do it, like a good soldier. That is how many companies run. Many CEOs issue edicts and say, “this is what we’re going to do,” instead of listening to the people who deal with the customer because they think they know best. It’s partly because they feel if they admit that they don’t know best, then they look inferior or won’t be perceived as a good CEO, so they just don’t listen.

I’m secure enough in my leadership to listen to employees. They are the boots on the ground and they know what the customer really wants. Whether it’s a higher level of service, kid-friendly offices, or refreshments, I listen. For example, we print out a letter that we give to every customer with their tax return. Why would I think I could do that better than the person who gives it out thousands of times? They give out two million letters with tax returns. Why would a CEO think he could create a better letter than the people who are closest to the customer? They should design the letter; we should just implement it. There are hundreds of issues like this.

In my company, I know the big picture better than anyone, but my franchisees and employees know the tools they need to exceed customer expectations. A good CEO will trust employees to make the right decisions – empowering them instead of just issuing automatic edits that they must follow. To succeed, employees must feel free to make suggestions and give advice to their managers without concern for retribution. Remember, humans are communication stoppers. The managers who listen the most – and listen well – to their employees will win.

While I still believe that no one really masters communication, we work to improve every day and set the standard. I regularly teach the importance of improving every day in the way we communicate to our customers, to our employees, and to our owners. Customers come first – always. Words aren’t the only communication that a client notices. An employee’s attitude, tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures are all part of the message, leading to either positive or negative results. At Liberty, an important part of our system is to call each client within 24-48 hours of completing a return. We ask for feedback on our service and they can offer any suggestions to help us improve. Most importantly, we listen.

Excerpted from:

iCompete: How My Extraordinary Strategy for Winning Can Be Yours, by John T. Hewitt, CEO and founder of Liberty Tax Service, available on Amazon March 29, 2016

Self-Expression: The Neuroscience of Co-creation

By Judith E. Glaser

I have yet to meet an executive, who joins a company to be ‘minimized,’ marginalized or to be intentionally held back from making a contribution.

We join a company to make a difference, to make a contribution, to be praised and rewarded.  We join a company to bring our voice to the table, and ‘lean into conversations’ so our voices join in the spirit of partnering with others to shape, create and Co-create the future.

Neuroscience is teaching us that ‘self-expression’ might be one – if not the most important ways for people to connect, navigate and grow with each other.

Validate View and Voice
Why might this be so? This experience suggests that something important happens inside of us when our view of the world is validated publicly—when our voice is heard and acknowledged, when we see we are not alone in our inner thoughts. This article is inspired by an experiment I ran over 25 years ago that created the impetus for the Birth of Conversational Intelligence
® – how we use conversations to connect with others’ to share a common view of the world.

Case in Point!

When my children were in elementary school, I created a school project called Children’s World. I proposed that we gather the students’ stories and pictures, and compile them into a book and publish it. When I shared this idea with the principal and teachers, they got behind it and offered to help. And when I shared this idea with some parents, I soon had 20 volunteers. When we shared this idea with the 550 students. Within a few weeks we had all of their contributions.

As we began to compile the books, we put on the floor all of the contributions—everything from stories and pictures from the 5th graders to poems and pictures from 1st graders—and looked for how we could best combine them. During the creative process, something amazing happened. It was as if each child was sensing things around them and with their best abilities they could usher up, they shared their stories and pictures with others.

At the end of our pattern-seeking process, all of the art and stories came together into chapters organized by themes that emerged as we sorted. We found children’s stories from 1st grade to map into illustrations from children at a higher grade.  We found a local printer who printed enough for parents to buy for their children and others. The books sold out in the first two days, and we had to re-order them.

The teachers told us there was an upsurge of creativity during the years we published Children’s World. Other schools in our community heard about the project and began their own Children’s World project.

Later, we did a follow-up study, looking for possible connections that might show the impact of the projects on the children’s emotional, social and academic development. We found a positive impact from the few years we did the Children’s World projects—a direct correlation to the number of children who were accepted into top universities, measurably more than in the years before or after.


Self-Expression at Work
How to you drive self-expression in the workplace? How do you encourage speaking up? In what ways can people apply their talents to create the next generation products and services your company offers?

Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) teaches us to see differently—to listen differently—and to process what we perceive differently. When we do that, we act in the moment in ways that create energy, activate energy, and help guide energy toward more productive and more powerful ends. C-IQ gives us tools for letting go of the past and transforming the future.

As you become transparent about your aspirations and intentions to co-create and also what threatens you—your fears and “stories” about what is going on—you feel a release inside. You gain the courage and a space to share your views without judgment. You could speak out and have a voice, and not be judged for how you are feeling. You have a chance to speak out and have your opinions valued.

You can reveal your inner thoughts and feelings to one another—to work on Transparency + Relationship together. You can talk about what is bothering you and what you aspire to create. You can move from a state of protection to partnering with others by being open to sharing and discovering their fears and aspirations.

Co-creating Conversations Bridge Realities
By stepping into one another’s shoes and listening without judgment, you trigger the prefrontal cortex (the executive brain) to access higher-level capacities, including how to handle gaps between reality and aspirations; how to access new thinking; and how to move into infinite thinking together and co-create new possibilities. Without this part of the brain activated, you tend to fall back into positional thinking and fight for your vested interests. You become more candid and caring and speak truth in trust, without triggering fear, creating the space for Shared success.

Breakthroughs occur, as you stay open to the possibility that you might discover ideas you have never thought of before. As you create a bonding experience (oxytocin rush), you start to open up new conversations about “what ifs.” You imagine new things that you might do together, fostering higher risk taking and openness. Co-creation opens the “infinite space” our minds need to be free to connect with others in new ways. Positioning, politicking, interpretation, drama, and negative storytelling give way to a sense of shared success and bonding that shapes new relationships.

Achieving greatness depends on the quality of the culture, which depends on the quality of relationships, which depends on the quality of conversations. Everything happens through conversation. By grafting C-IQ rituals into your interaction dynamics, you will discover new doors opening up in your mind and in your reality.

Try These Experiments:

  • Think about how to craft an exercise like Children’s World in your organization,  team, or school.
  • Start a meeting by asking people to share a personal story and a business story that just happened that they are excited about—see how the meeting shifts.
  • In team meetings, you might share “What I respect about you and what I need from you.” This exercise helps you understand others, recognize strengths in others and prime one another for partnering and co-creation as you create openness, bonding, connectivity, and empathy for one another.
  • Collect success stories in teams and publish them—watch how the team spirit changes.
  • Publish success stories on your intranet. Ask people to include tips, and practices that underlay the success—watch how the C-IQ grows in your organization


Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc., Chairman of The Creating WE Institute, an Organizational Anthropologist, consultant to Fortune 500 Companies, and author of four best selling business books, including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion). Call 212-307-4386 or visit www.conversationalingelligence.com; www.creatingwe.com; email jeglaser@creatingwe.com.

http://www.benchmarkcommunicationsinc.com/

B2B Marketing: C-Suite Executive Briefings

Q&A: Cody Pearce, Chief Operating Officer of Nelson Schmidt, On An Evolution in B2B Marketing

The C-Suite Network hosts a monthly online event called Executive Briefings. Each event features an executive thought leader discussing a topic important to the C-Suite. Thomas White, CEO of C-Suite Network, hosts the event with a unique Q&A format. 

During one of our recent Briefings, Cody Pearce, chief operating officer of Nelson Schmidt, joined us to discuss the evolution and landscape, both present and future, of B2B marketing. Nelson Schmidt is a leader in helping companies and clients truly think about the marketplace and how they can engage with buyers in a way that’s really effective both to the top and bottom line.

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If anybody has been around marketing they’ve heard a couple of terms: B2B and B2C. So when somebody is talking about business to business, or B2B, what does that really mean?

We talk a lot about the evolution of B2B marketing and to some extent the dissolving of B2B marketing. When we look out at some of the trends that we’re monitoring, we look at three things: One, the market landscape has really dynamically changed even over the last three to five years. Just about every business model has been significantly disrupted. There is a massive influx of information and information technology that is changing the way we do business – changing the way we go to market.

Secondly, the customer landscape – both demographically and the way the customer has been empowered – are dramatically different because of the evolution of tools and information. The empowered customer has changed the way we think about marketing.

Lastly, the B2B landscape is dramatically shifting. We’ve seen a disappearance of our trade with the BMA (Business Marketing Association) being absorbed by the AMA (American Marketing Association) and with our Trade Voice BtoB Magazine being absorbed by Advertising Age, for example. Those trends are real evidence for us that there is a tremendous shift taking place, and a movement towards the creation of a single community of marketers rather than a definitive distinction between B2B and B2C companies, brands, and marketers. That shift, for us, is an incredibly important one, and one that we’re making sure to pay close attention to so we can change our business and our business practices with it.

We certainly have seen these changes in the landscape, the kind of things that we all supported and helped build this market we call B2B are certainly evolving pretty rapidly. What is causing this change? What is going on in the customer space that’s having this change come about?

What we look at, first and foremost, is the emergence of new channels and the access to information for customers that just hasn’t been there until the last three to five years in the way that it is today. That is changing the way the customers get information. It’s changing their ability to be much more intelligent and informed, and it’s forcing companies and marketers to think less about the product or solution they offer – a business or commercial audience versus a consumer one – and to think more about the journey and the considered purchase process of their customers. We need to evolve with these changing demographics, market landscape changes, and emergence of new tools and channels.

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You talk about the change in how we market, but this question of the evolution of B2B to considered purchases isn’t really just an issue for marketing folks. It’s really an issue for all the C-Suite, isn’t it?

It really is. I think the changes that we’re starting to describe, and the trends that we’re looking at, it changes how we do business. It changes how we connect with customers. It changes, perhaps, how we go to market and make money. For us, as an agency, and as a considered purchase marketing agency, it means thinking differently about the way that we help our customers from the executive office all the way through the commercial marketing teams and into the sales organization. So it does affect our client’s businesses literally from top to bottom in the way that they do business.

You’ve used this term a few times called considered purchase, what does it mean?

It simply means that rather than defining marketing as business-to-business or business-to-consumer, we are defining our practice of marketing around the idea of the level of consideration we see that customers make before making a purchase choice. Considered purchases are complex and have a great deal of emotional and financial risk and reward.

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So you aren’t getting this idea because you sit around a room. You go out and talk to folks and find out from them what they’re seeing.

That’s absolutely right. It’s not just about coming up with a new term for the sake of having something catchy to talk about next. It really is about re-inventing the way that, as an agency, we’re beginning to practice and the way that we solve problems for our customers.

When we talk to marketers, what we’re hearing are a couple of emerging trends. Number one, we hear that there’s a lot more focus around the consideration for purchase of those goods or services. It’s less about B2C and B2B, and it’s more about the level of consideration a customer has to make before making a purchase choice. We also find that the marketers probably feel less informed, especially as business models change and are disrupted. We begin to then shape our conversation around the purchase journey, around the consideration required, and the consequence and complexity tied to a brand choice to define the way that we practice.

For example, if we start to look at and map different categories of products and services along a spectrum of consequence and complexity, we can start to draw a line differently than traditional B2B and B2C lines have been drawn in the past. There’s kind of a convergence and a similarity now between the process someone may go through when choosing a banking alternative or a college choice, and very much being able to connect that to what a capital equipment purchase might look like. That journey looks very similar regardless of a consumer or a business target audience or offering. 

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Do you think because we have had these distinctions of B2B, B2C, and so forth that we have failed to really understand what you call the customer journey and how the sales funnel really works?

Yes, and marketers tell us that. They’re starting to question the traditional sales funnel and rethink the way that customers, in a more informed setting along a path of highly considered purchase, are moving through that funnel in a less linear fashion. Instead, they are coming in and out of it much more rapidly, and carrying forward with them preconceived choices based on the level of information available to them. As we look at the customer journey in the highly considered purchase path, it forces us to rethink the sales funnel and how we engage with the customer to affect their choices.

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Let’s talk about the customer journey. How do you help people map that out?

We actually give a lot of credit to a company called Adaptive Path. We found some very compelling tools that this organization had developed. They are a thought leader in the space of customer experience, and they make available to us, and this is public domain, a great set of tools that we’re beginning to use to provide structure to mapping out the customer journey.

The tools help us look at the stages a customer goes through, whether it’s in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer setting. We then can map those stages out from decision, through research and shopping, into buying and consumption — all the way down to using and feeding back into the loop their experience.

Not only does this allow us to look at the functional aspects of what customers are doing, but it lets us explore the emotional aspects of what customers may be thinking, feeling, and experiencing at each of the stages of the journey. That allows us, ultimately, to provide some guiding principles and seek opportunities for where we can be most effective with the right content, at the right time, through the right channel, as we begin to map this more comprehensively. 

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By mapping this out we know what to do when.

That’s right. It’s about what to do when. It’s about what channels to use. It’s about having some predictability in the work that we do to the outcomes that we’re trying to measure. This allows us to set up analytics and KPIs around our marketing programs to know that the investment is working as best as it can.

We begin to apply this as simply and as informally as a brainstorming session. We literally project it up on a wall for a post-it note session with our media and public relations and digital teams. We also take it very formally into the way that we scope and manage comprehensive annual campaigns.

Through this modeling we can start to look at the tools and the modes of communication. We can look at what customers are functionally doing, thinking, and feeling at each individual stage. We can much more intelligently then shape our messaging, our creative strategies, our channel mix, and investment in a way that we know is going to be most effective and optimized.

This guideline has given us a great framework to start looking at both consumer and commercial purchase cycles and building intelligent plans that use a modern set of tools in the most effective way.

What is the “Zero Moment of Truth”?

Zero moment of truth is something that has been talked about for a few years. This is the ultimate point in time in the customer journey of where they decide and make a final decision. It’s that moment of truth where we can start to look at the first moment of truth – that is when a customer narrows down its final set of consideration brands – and the zero moment of truth when they actually go from the shopping and evaluation to the choice. They have made a critical decision.

This model that you’re using is a considered purchase model. This could apply to what has traditionally been thought of as a business to business or a business to consumer orientation.

Yes, it doesn’t matter for us. For example, laundry machines. A laundromat owner may be considering replacing equipment in his or her store, or a homeowner may be looking to replace the washer and a dryer in their home. Both are highly considered purchases.

For both of those scenarios, we can map those purchase journeys. We start to model very closely the tools, the channels, the content, and the delivery of what we do as marketers to affect their choices.

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We’ve got this picture of the customer journey. Is this it or is there more?

No, there’s more. Obviously this is one step towards them building an effective brand and communications plan and strategy. The example that we will use here is connected to that laundry store owner. How it impacts what we then do as marketers can come in three ways and shapes. 

Number one is this has dramatically impacted the way we are shaping and delivering our creative and message strategy that we’re using. We have typically focused heavily on the promotion of our functional benefits. We talk a lot about the value proposition. We talk about promoting features and benefits of a solution.

Now having gone through these exercises, it has completely changed that mindset for us. It lowered the purpose and the role of the equipment and it heightened the emotional feeling of risk and of challenge and connecting it to a broader set of solutions that our brand can deliver. In this case we talk about financing. We talk about construction services. We talk about the business that they’re running and the impact we can have on improving that business. We connect emotionally through digital platforms by showing and telling through much deeper engagement how that is happening, and what other customers are feeling, and how they can connect. The first impact it’s having is changing the way we build our message and creative strategies and the mix that we use. 

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The second thing is these individual moments of truth. The great news is that marketing automation, programmatic media, CRM and other marketing techniques have dramatically improved our ability to intelligently hone in on this and very predictably insert the right content at exactly the right moment through the right channel, and keep that engagement to make sure that we are a part of that zero moment of truth. It has really changed the way that we bring automation and use technology to deliver our content in a much more sophisticated and predictable way.

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Lastly, it lets us build metrics that are a little bit different than the traditional KPIs of a marketing program. We can not only look at the things that are typical in the funnel in terms of impressions and the things that we usually have looked at as marketers. It starts to help us really hone in and drill down on activities where are we seeing engagement. Getting this in real time and connecting it down to the sales funnel, in terms of active deals and closed opportunities, lets us measure in real time how impactful our message, our mix, and our strategies are at being part of that consideration set.

Those three things to us as marketers are incredibly powerful. What we’re saying and when. How it is being delivered. The way that we hone in predictably on the behavior of consumers at exactly the right time. Then the visibility to measure that along the way to affect our decisions. Those are the three big ones for us.

What does all this mean to how we measure marketing effectiveness? It seems like we have a whole new way to look at things that are much more clearly tied to the sales results we’re producing.

Yes, that is probably the most important question marketers are asking themselves. They are looking at their investments and seeing pressure from the C-Suite in terms of what am I getting, what should I invest, and how are we performing. We owe it to ourselves as marketers – and frankly as an agency committed with a tagline of “we deliver customers” – we have to back that up with evidence.

We’re starting to talk about engagement versus the quantity of impression. Where we typically are thinking a lot about the top of the funnel in terms of impressions, awareness, and perception, and attitude measure – that matters and we care about it, but we also have to know what impact that is having on the quality of engagement – from the engagement of consideration, to ultimately the choice. Being able to connect that from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel literally in terms of active deals through visibility in CRM and a connection to our customer sales teams, is critically important.

What does somebody do if they want to start bringing in this understanding of the customer journey in a considered purchase way but they don’t have a large budget? Where do they invest their money?

Frankly, what I would encourage is to go through the process I discussed earlier — go through a process of mapping the customer journey. Go through a process of truly, intimately understanding what your customers are going through in making their choices in a highly considered decision. Zone in on the areas where you feel you can affect that first and final moment of truth to bring your brand into consideration, and dominate and own that area of your marketing investment.

Regardless of the size of budget, being thoughtful about the approach and careful about the measurements can help you determine the right thing to do at any investment level.

Moving forward, what do people do?

We are hypothesizing here – based on the trends we’ve talked about and the evolution and witness of our B2B trade dissolving, we believe there’s an evolution taking place. We believe that organizing the way we practice around considered purchase versus B2B and B2C is a meaningful path. We believe that the playbook, the way that we deliver, should be centered on the mapping of that customer journey in a much more modern way with the use of the most sophisticated tools we have available to us as marketers. 

We want to continue the dialogue. We want to continue to learn and listen to marketers. We want to invite everybody here to join in this conversation and debate. Let’s, as a community of marketers, regardless of B2C or B2B, begin to recognize truly how disrupted our space has become and how important it is for us to start moving in a direction to re-invent ourselves and redefine our impact in business value. That is critical for us and I think that is what we can all go forward thinking. We believe there is something relevant here for everyone to dig in with us.

You can learn more about Executive Briefings, watch other sessions and sign up for future events here.

TW_headshot

Thomas White is the CEO of the C-Suite Network and the host of the nationally syndicated video program, Business Matters. This was taken from dialogue on C-Suite Executive Briefings.

EEA in Education Pact on Engagement With C-Suite Network

The Enterprise Engagement Alliance and C-Suite Network at C-SuiteNetwork.com have announced a broad marketing partnership to educate corporate management on the emerging field of engagement and to provide the EEA community with a broad range of the C-Suite Network’s learning and networking services.

Under the agreement, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance will develop an education program and content track on all aspects of Enterprise Engagement for the fast-growing C-Suite Network community. C-Suite Network describes itself as the “world’s most powerful network of C-suite leaders with a focus on providing growth, development, and networking opportunities for business executives with titles of vice president and above from companies with annual revenues of $10 million or greater.”  The group currently has over 175,000 executives in its community.

The group holds three conferences a year; hosts online television and radio broadcasts on topics of interest to top management; manages a private online community for business leaders, produces specialized interactive learning programs for C-suite leaders, and offers a book club featuring titles of interest to business management. The EEA will promote these services both through its Engagement Strategies portal at Enterpriseengagement.org and its annual Engagement University at eeaexpo.com, held this year in Orlando April 25-28.

Said Thomas White, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the C-Suite Network, “The emerging field of Enterprise Engagement provides a compelling roadmap for today’s business leaders seeking to gain a competitive advantage by harnessing the power of engaged customers, distribution partners, employees, vendors, and communities to achieve their short- and long-term goals. It’s our mission to help our community find the latest strategies and tactics to improve the performance of their organizations.”

Bruce Bolger, President of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance said, “The C-Suite Network has done a great job of building a community of executives committed to excellence and creating a complete set of learning and sharing tools to help their organizations excel. We couldn’t imagine a better education partnership.”

Original Article from Engagement Strategies Media

Big Data Conversations: Don’t Get Caught

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By Judith Glaser

Why and How of Engaging Customers

Gallup’s State of the American Consumer report states, “Fully engaged customers are more loyal and profitable. Afully engaged customer represents a 23 percent premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.”

How can you effectively engage with your customers who operate at warp speed? We live in a world of right now, and the demand for instant results is seeping into every corner of our lives. Instant gratification is no longer a desire—it is an expectation.

In what Qualtrics calls the “era of immediacy,” we now operate in real-time and expect everything instantly. To engage with their customers and satisfy their need for speed, businesses must re-engineer their approach. Today, it’s about giving the customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it—or they’ll go someplace else. 

Fast data is gathered quickly and shared and acted on quickly, before its shelf life expires. Fast data delivers the information needed to help address specific issues, drive results and propel innovation in the moment. Fast data helps enterprises gather real-time insights into what customer are thinking so they can address issues in the now and keep customers happy. Enterprises need to catch customers and employees when they’re thinking it. Forrester Research predicts: “In the age of the customer, the race will be won or lost based on your firm’s ability to know your customers and react faster and better.”

For example, the Viceroy Hotel Group used fast data to uncover valuable insights about potential customers that boosted the hotel’s bottom line. Using Qualtrics Site Intercept product, the VHG experienced a sudden surge in local web traffic. Managers scratched their heads. The locals weren’t planning to stay there, so what was up with all the traffic? In less than an hour, the LA-based hotel set up an online survey using Site Intercept that asked local visitors what they were looking for. It turned out they wanted a happy hour menu. A quick fix allowed the hotel to make the happy hour menu available to anyone from the LA area who visited the website. With fast data, the VHG delivered potential customers exactly what they wanted, which boosted the hotel’s bottom line.

Meet the Voice of the Customer

Enterprises struggle with having access to the right information at the right time and place in order to interact with customers, build new products, and improve service. This is why most leaders are investing resources to strengthen their customer engagement programs. This renewed commitment to customer engagement impacts how enterprises approach their Voice of Customer (VoC) initiatives. VoC is now a strategic initiative for better understanding customers and responding to their specific needs.

For example, JetBlue, another Qualtrics’ customer, noticed that their NPS score at a Philadelphia airport was very low for an early morning flight. By focusing on this insight, JetBlue could trace customer dissatisfaction to the fact that the shops and amenities in the terminal were not open when customers were looking for coffee and refreshments before their flight, making them grumpy. With this insight, JetBlue responded quickly by passing out water, juice and coffee at the gate in the morning to boost customer morale. This made a tremendous change in JetBlue’s satisfaction scores.

Customers now expect to give feedback, and to have that feedback acted on. This expectation is driving the demand for VoC. Organizations are looking to technology to address the new rules of customer engagement.

Today, anybody can gather data on nearly anything. The challenge isn’t in finding the right solution to help you gather data—it is in finding the right solution to allow you to access, and act upon those insights quickly and effectively. Otherwise, customers will go someplace else. Adapt or vanish, the old adage goes.

We can now collect insights faster than ever before, enabling us to make timelier and better business decisions, improve business results and create happier, engaged customers. This means more revenue and profits. In the era of immediacy,” actionable data enables us to give our customer what they want, when and how they want it.

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Judith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc., Chairman of The Creating WE Institute, an Organizational Anthropologist, consultant to Fortune 500 Companies, and author of four best selling business books, includingConversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion, 2013) Visit www.creatingwe.com orwww.conversationalingelligence.com; email jeglaser@creatingwe.com or call 212-307-4386.

Are Your Recruiters Making These Three Major Mistakes?

By Anand Deshpande, WittyParrot

Are you guilty of committing these three recruiting no-nos?

Best practices for the hiring process have changed dramatically. Failure to acknowledge the evolving job market and adapt to the demands of 21st century job seekers can lead to lost opportunities…and revenue.

Here are three early recruiting mistakes, which may stand between your business and the best and the brightest job applicants.

1. Lack of a Recruitment Strategy

Social media offers an abundance of ways to connect with prospective candidates, but lack of a well-delineated recruiting plan can lead to wasted time and resources. Even when time is of the essence, it pays to stop and establish a “big picture” plan in order to determine strategic recruiting goals as well as targeted tactics for achieving them.

Implementing a recruitment plan is crucial to landing top talent – following are tips to create a recruitment strategy:

  • Understand the position, including everything from key criteria to core competencies to cultural fit. While general posts in non-specific outlets may yield some results, they will also produce a multitude of dead ends. The more specific the job description and recruiter’s understanding of the most desirable candidates, the more refined the results will be
  • Align recruitment goals with corporate goals and initiatives
  • Establish a recruitment process including high-level stages, handovers, descriptions and key deliverables for each process
  • Identify the best channels for recruitment such as employee referrals, available lists/sourcing partners, and most effective social media outlets for sourcing candidates based on actual data
  • Establish ‘Best Practice Resources’ and share with the team

2. Not Selling the Brand

Today’s job seekers, particularly the up and coming generation of millennials, aren’t just looking for any odd job; they’re looking for a shared vision. And in this rapidly moving digital age, job seekers will move on if your brand doesn’t hold their attention.

It’s critical for recruiters to catch — and maintain — a potential applicant’s interest by communicating an attractive, informative, and enticing message. Give candidates a reason to want to connect with your brand and strive to be part of it.

With mindful execution, social media becomes a recruitment and marketing tool for both active and passive candidate recruiting. Here are some tips to help sell your corporate brand to candidates:

  • Leverage existing proof points – share industry awards, videos of current employees, brand and culture messages on the site, and customer success stories describing how your organization has helped them. Have these ready to drop into an email, InMail post or present during a face-to-face meeting
  • Share personal stories that convey your corporate culture and insights about what it’s like to work for your company. These stories can be something that happened to you at work, sharing a story about a colleague who went above and beyond for you, etc. – ensuring your stories accurately reflects your culture and brand
  • Go beyond the requisition, which are often bland. Would you want to work for a company if all you saw was the requisition? Paint a picture of what it would be like working in that role – what the day looks like, what the projects are, and who you’re working with

3. Failure to Focus on the Relationship

Just because a job applicant isn’t the right fit for a particular job doesn’t mean there’s no long-term potential. The best recruiters know that relationship building is an essential part of the hiring process.

For example, failure to return phone calls or provide feedback to candidates during the application process is not only inconsiderate, but can have exponential effects, particularly if that candidate shares a negative experience via social media.

By creating and nurturing social connections, recruiters ensure that candidates are primed and ready should the right opportunity eventually arise. Talent management solutions offer invaluable help in tracking potential employees across an organization and throughout the comprehensive cycle.

So what can recruiters do to build long-term relationships with candidates who may not be a current fit?

  • Be honest. Let candidates know why they didn’t move on in the process, and why the role wasn’t a fit – and let them know promptly
  • Offer advice to the candidate. If you see mistakes or details that raise flags on their LinkedIn profile, let them know. Point them to additional sources for appropriate roles. Helping others comes back to you in spades, just like in most other areas of life
  • Keep in touch. Send an email periodically asking if they have a new role, are still looking, etc. and make note of the answers. If personal emails aren’t a possibility, send a useful article once a quarter as a way to reach out and continue to foster the relationship

It’s a brave new world when it comes to hiring practices, but unprecedented results are within reach for those who stick to winning strategies and avoid these potentially costly mistakes.

About the Guest Author:

Anand Deshpande is on the frontline of customer success at WittyParrot, working directly with clients to ensure smooth onboarding, ramp up and account management. He has an intimate knowledge of WittyParrot as a solution and uses that to help clients in strategy and implementation. Anand is a graduate of Emory University and has been with WittyParrot for over a year. His previous experience includes sustainability and brand consulting for a variety of companies including HRO and Oil and Gas companies. He has a history of working with diverse teams to create solutions to complex issues and enjoys bringing that background to the team.

Think You’re Ready for PR? Tips from Those Who Know

By Jennifer Fleming, President, TallGrass Public Relations

Whether you’re a newly formed start-up or a well-established brand or thought leader, you’ve probably thought about or dabbled in public relations.

No matter how great your marketing strategies are, there is nothing more credible than an effective PR campaign. So if you’re at the stage where you really want to build your business brand, then it’s time to start seriously considering hiring professional assistance.  

The TallGrass team consults with hundreds of clients each year in various phases of their marketing and PR strategy and programs. Some are at square one; others have worked with firms in their past or current companies.

But in order to make PR work, it boils down to three things: definitive goals, managed expectations and the right experts.

Know your goals and your bandwidth

Every new client at TallGrass participates in a strategic planning session – we won’t work with a client unless we do. Your PR firm should spend the time to understand your business. From your product roll-out schedule to growth opportunities, revenue models to target markets, asking the questions and understanding your business is critical to create messaging and stories that resonate. It drives the strategy to achieve your goals.

If you’re unclear about your goals, your mission and your 118/elevator pitch, get clear – fast. Without these guideposts, your PR team can’t begin to understand the parameters of what you’re trying to accomplish (and neither can your company!). A great firm should be able to ask the right questions, form a strategy and guide you in the right direction.

Not only do you need to be clear on your goals, but also your company needs to make PR an organizational commitment. Today, PR professionals outnumber journalists three to one. Requests for contributed content – content originated from your company or a “hired gun” content writer – are more and more common. PR will take time – yours and your firm’s. Are you prepared to drop everything for an interview or draft a thousand-word article?

“Make sure you know what to do with the results,” says Deane Barker, partner at Blend Interactive. “If you get a ton of speaking opportunities, can you fulfill them? How will you vet them? If sales leads come pouring in, do you have a process to manage them? Can you do anything with them? What results from PR is a raw asset that needs to be refined to have business value. Can you do this?”

If you want to be in the NYT, sleep with Paris Hilton

I’m kidding, sort of. Managing the expectations of our clients with the appropriate media outlets and journalists is an important part of what we do. Who wouldn’t love a placement in a major publication? But being everywhere is just as important. Having an arsenal of great coverage provides credibility and establishes you as a thought leader.

“It’s always nice to get a major media hit or article placement in a major national publication like USA Today. However, the real value is all of the smaller placements in industry magazines (print and digital) that focus on a target-specific audience,” says Shep Hyken, customer service expert, author and speaker. “While getting a spot on the ‘Today Show’ was great for my ego, the interviews and article placements in the industry publications were great for my business.”

Equally challenging and important in managing expectations is how to measure your ROI. Having a baseline of coverage from which to measure is great and can be helpful to define “we want X number of placements.” But PR is just part of the overall marketing mix.

“Don’t look at the ROI, it’s hard to measure and nearly impossible to see direct revenue,” says Mitchell Levy, Thought Leader Architect of THiNKaha. “What you are looking for is increased awareness leading to more opportunities for you and your team to engage with your future advocates. Those opportunities, if handled properly, will lead to significantly increased revenue.”

You’re hiring an expert for a reason

Companies can dabble with DIY public relations. But “it’s difficult to be consistent with pitching your business while you’re trying to run your company, too,” says Susan Solovic, small business expert, entrepreneur and author.

Just as you know your business inside and out, a PR professional can find the gems of your value proposition, messaging, product, service and company to tell your story.

But you have to be working with the right people. The ability to have open dialogue and to try a variety of tactics, to be flexible and agile creates a winning strategy.

“What worked in the past may not work in the future, and you want to be working with folks that you like, trust and are willing to try a number of techniques to be able to deliver the results you’re looking for,” Levy says.

A client once said to me, “Great PR is the ability to take chicken shit and make chicken salad.” Well said! You’ve hired an expert for a reason – now let them take the lead and let them do what they do best.

Jennifer Fleming is President of TallGrass PR, a global B2B public relations firm. She’s been known to follow shiny objects. Follow her at @jkfleming.

My People-Centric Journey to CFO

By Nintex CFO, Eric Johnson

Growing up, I was always interested in business.  My dad spent his career in the corporate world, eventually becoming the CIO for a Fortune 500 transportation company.  I learned a lot from my father and became interested in business very early.  From my dad I vividly learned a few key lessons:

  • Deliver on your commitments
  • Have passion for your trade
  • Treat people right

I was fortunate to have a great role model who laid a strong foundation for me.  My dad advised that I study finance and accounting as he told me it is the language of business—that in the board room having this knowledge would be invaluable.  He was right. Since my first job, every single role that followed has come from a referral of someone I had worked with before.  I am eternally grateful for the help I received from these individuals and know that it was based on the fact, that in the prior roles, I had delivered on commitments and was viewed as a strong teammate.   

In my early roles, as a financial analyst and then as a finance manager, I focused like a laser on delivering on my commitments and making great relationships at work.  My bosses and other leaders quickly appreciated my execution and because of this I often was given the opportunity to take on extra roles.  At Merant as a Finance Manager, in a turn-around situation, I was part of a team that tripled the value of the company in about two years.  This experience led me to receive a large promotion to the Director of Finance and Accounting for the acquiring company, Serena Software, at age 27.  I quickly went from leading a two person team to a 30 person team.  The pressure was high with several critical projects.  I was fortunate to be able to lead a high performing team and was recognized with the Employee of the Year award in my first year. 

About three years later Serena needed an executive to lead WW Sales Operations.  Given my knowledge of the sales organization and working relationships with key sales leaders I was promoted to VP of WW Sales Ops.  In this role, I learned a ton about selling having the opportunity to spend time with prospects, customers, and our sales teams.  After four years in this role I was ready for a new challenge and joined Jive from a co-worker referral as the VP of Finance and Sales Ops.  We had an outstanding team, took the company public eight months later, and in the two and a half years I was there grew revenue from under $50 million to $150 million.

Throughout my career journey, I have learned to appreciate and fully understand the critical role of ensuring your team members know you care deeply about their personal success and the organization’s success.  Team members give their best when they have strong relationships with their boss, co-workers, and they are bought into the mission of the organization.  After Jive, I joined Nintex as CFO (of course, this too was based on a referral).  Nintex has an outstanding culture, combining innovation, collaboration and respect for the individual.  I am fortunate to be a CFO well before 40 at a successful high-growth software company. 

I credit my success to having had many great bosses and co-workers, combined with my commitment to execution and my concern for building great relationships.