Why Doesn’t Anyone Want The Top Jobs Anymore?

by Ruth K. Ross

I know I don’t. I know most of my friends who are also baby boomers don’t.  We, of a certain demographic, are leaving Corporate America in droves. Every week I’m meeting up with friends of friends who want to hear my story of why and how I left and what it takes to go out on your own.  That’s been steadily going on now over the last four years since I pulled the plug on my corporate human resources career. We all joke about ‘voting ourselves off the corporate island’ but the situation really isn’t funny.

In the last year my tea dates have gotten younger and younger, while sigh, I still get older.  The millennials are now joining the party in large numbers.  As numerous recent articles and studies are showing, millennial workers are saying that they simply don’t aspire to take on senior level roles. It’s not that they don’t believe they have the skills and smarts to do the job, many just don’t feel that it is the right path for them and worth the effort.

Years ago someone thankfully kicked the crap out of the old notion of a career ladder where you moved up one rung at a time. Instead we all began to focus more on building a portfolio of skills and taking lateral moves to gain additional experience to broaden our skill set. But, what didn’t change was the thinking that eventually you’d end up at or near the top. Until recently, that is. Now, people are saying, both with their voices and their feet that their goal isn’t to rise to the top.

So, is this all due to the massive percentage of workers that identify themselves as disengaged or other factors? Frankly it’s a bit of everything. With 68.5% of the US workforce disengaged according to the Gallup Institute (87% globally), it’s easy to simply lay blame here, but I’m also hearing from engaged people who just don’t have the desire to take on the stress and pressure that comes with the top jobs.  When I talk to my peers who have walked away, I hear things like “I have nothing left to prove” and “I want to do something that has meaning and I can change lives”.

Perhaps to combat the epidemic of disengagement or it’s just the world we live in today, there is an overwhelming number of people jumping on the bandwagon to talk about how we need to have meaning at work, find our purpose and be happy. Every day I get an email with links to articles on these subjects or inviting me to attend conferences or webinars designed around passion and happiness. Admit it, our curiosity gets peaked when someone promises us we can be happy at work instead of sad, frustrated and miserable. Of course, in the moment we forget that we also have to pay the bills and have health insurance.

What my friends and I have figured out is that it is so much better to work to thrive, rather than work just to survive. However, being the more conservative types that most baby boomers are (having had parents that were depression era babies), we saved a lot to be able to have choices later in our career.  What scares me a bit, but also makes me jealous, is that millennial workers are not worrying about having the money to make life changing career decisions, they just do what feels right for them in the moment.  Given this, how can companies hope to keep them around while grooming them for more responsibility?

It starts with figuring out what makes them tick, what makes them excited to get up in the morning and come in to work, what is going to give them meaning and purpose in the workplace. It also starts with figuring out how they can have a successful career while not sacrificing their life-work balance outside of the office. And while we are on this subject, let’s not forget about our Gen-Xer’s. They sometimes get lost in the squeeze of worrying about losing the incredible knowledge and experience of the baby boomers and the potential of the millennial generation.

We need to turn back to the basics of creating an engaging work environment where people of all generations can buy in, go all in and remain within while contributing to the passion and mission of the company and worry less about what their job titles are, now and in the future.

Ruth K. Ross is an Engagement evangelist, Speaker, Successful HR Executive for top Fortune 500 companies and Author of Coming Alive: The Journey To Reengage Your Life And Career. After 30 years of working with corporate leaders and managers as a senior human resources leader, Ruth knows firsthand that focusing on engaging your people is the most direct way to improve the bottom line of your business. Disengaged employees can cause even seemingly strong companies to stumble. She has a personal passion for identifying and reengaging the disengaged employee. That’s because she once was one herself. Visit her website at http://www.ruthkross.com or on Twitter @ruthkross.

8 Ways Marketers Are Being Heard In 2015

by Steve Olenski

One of the core challenges of marketing is what key information to present and how to do so effectively. Consumers literally have the entire world at their fingertips and as a result, there’s a considerable amount of marketing noise. With so much information streaming at a near constant, new and innovative methods of engaging users are crucial to establishing a unique voice over the chatter. To ensure they’re being heard, many businesses are utilizing the following eight marketing practices.

1. Going Mobile

No, I am not going to say 2015 or 2016 or any other year is the year of mobile. So now worries, there. However, it’s estimated that consumers spend almost 2.8 hours a day on mobile devices. With this comes big opportunity for marketers to engage their audience and in 2015, it’s become a downright necessity to re-contextualize business endeavors and situate them in the mobile space. From phones, to tablets, to wearable tech, companies are refactoring their efforts to maintain fluid marketing channels.

2.Visual Storytelling

A prominent trend in the world of marketing is visual storytelling. By making use of videos and infographics, marketers can visually convey their brand, philosophy, and objectives in a manner that is not only aesthetically pleasing but one that taps into the hearts and minds of their audience. Going into 2015, approximately 70% of marketers planned to boost their use of original visual assets. As we approach 2016, things don’t appear to be slowing down.

3. Blogs

For a long time, blogs have served as a great way to occupy a piece of digital real estate. They’re free, anyone can sign up, and they’re beautifully simple. Whether you’re a chef or a software developer, a blog can serve as an effective platform to broadcast expertise. Blogs are so enticing that each month around 329 million people read them. What’s this mean for businesses? You guessed it again: opportunity. Even Fortune 500 companies have jumped on the bandwagon, with 34% of them maintaining active blog accounts.

4. Content Marketing

A sound product or an innovative service are fine and well but consumers want to feel like they can trust the brands they love. Roughly 70% of polled consumers stated that they prefer to learn about a company through articles rather than standard advertisements. With over $100 billion dollars invested in content marketing this year, you can sure count on more videos, infographics, articles, and eBooks.

5. Social Media Marketing

Social media is now an installment of our culture and it’s one of the most effective ways a brand can engage their audience. The sheer volume of users provides a direct channel into prospective customers and it offers the chance for brands to employ the marketing trends discussed thus far. That’s why it’s estimated that marketers will drop close to $8.3 billion on social media marketing assets by the close of 2015.

6. Automation

Successful marketing requires not only high-quality content, but also punctuality. Consumers want and expect to be engaged on a regular, timely basis, and on the customer service side, you want to be able to address every customer complaint or question as soon as possible.

Although many think that there is no beating the personal touch when it comes to interactions on social media, these naysayers are behind the times – there’s actually an extremely strong case for automating social media practices. By using a software like Oracle Eloqua (note: my employer), you can easily cover every channel when you release a campaign, improve data collection, and increase your brand presence through shares and customer word-of-mouth.

7. Internal Communication

Communication is vital and there’s been a major push to ensure that the minds behind marketing campaigns are on all on the same page. By investing in streamline internal communication systems, employees are becoming more knowledgeable, more efficient, and more equipped to address work obstacles. As a result, they have evolved from representatives into robust “brand ambassadors”, backed by a fully-equipped and uniformly educated support system.

8. CRO

In order to maximize on marketing efforts, improving the user experience should be at the forefront of a brand’s priorities. That’s why they’re emphasizing conversion rate optimization (CRO) methods. By combining analytics and the user feedback, businesses can can monitor their online traffic, implement necessary marketing changes, and ensure that their online traffic converts to customers. One proven conversion tactic relates to the content marketing directly. With 25% of Americans watching online videos each day, 73% of them are more likely to make purchases after watching a video.

As technology advances and we hurdle closer and closer towards 2016, don’t be surprised if these trends become even more prominent. While it is true that the fundamentals of marketing are constant, the rate at which they are expected has most definitely accelerated. If you’re a business and looking to keep up, let these trends aid your momentum.

*This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

Psychology of Deep Connection

by Judith Glaser

Neuro-tips on the go

According to social science research conducted by Brian Uzzi, professor of leadership and organizational change at the Kellogg School of Management, most people choose friends and colleagues based on three principles that even they may not be aware of.

Most people, according to the research, choose people strategically based on these decisions:

  • Identify the most important qualities they’re looking for in the people in their network (often the same qualities they already have).
  • Look for others who share those qualities.
  • Find those new people through people they already know.

While this intuitively makes sense for how we grow our business networks, it’s counter intuitive to what human beings need to be doing to ensure deep connectivity in relationships. There is a lot we can learn from the Neuroscience of WE that gives us clues to what makes working relationships as well as personal relationships thrive.

Deep Connection at Work:

There is a part of the brain that activates when we meet people. It’s called the ‘like me/not like me’ part of the brain or the Rostromedial Prefrontal Cortex.  When we think people are like us the RPC lights up and we connect easily. It’s like looking in the mirror and seeing more of ourselves – and we are comfortable. However, there is another part of our brain that has a bigger impact on us – and one that explains deep connection. This part of the brain is called the Temporo Parietal Junction or the TPJ. This part of our brain is activated when we share with others – and sharing trumps everything.

When we are in active sharing with others – sharing deep secrets, sharing what’s on our mind, sharing our fears, our dreams and our aspirations, the brain lights up like a Christmas tree. This is why people get addicted to ‘tweeting and texting’ – we are sharing transparently and without judging or filtering. This behavior activates a high level of oxytocin, which is the neurotransmitter that enables us to bond and connect with others deeply. So here are some things to experiment with at work to deepen connections and create a healthy, thriving, intimate and passionate workplace:

  • Share passions, dreams and aspirations: Create opportunities to be open and transparent with others about your passions – and share, share, share!   When we are open with others – we send signals that we trust them with things that are personal to us. We bring people into our private space and trust they will not harm us in any way.When we share our passions, dreams and aspirations – we are letting others know we think of them as close friends, and we are comfortable confiding in them.  Sharing activates oxytocin – our bonding hormone, which activates higher levels of trust – and creates a positive virtuous cycle.
  • Connect Deeply through Peer Coaching: Put people together who may not be alike – and enable them to practice sharing, discovering and peer coaching – and their lives will change!   Our research at the CreatingWE Institute reveals that Peer Coaching is one of the most powerful forms of engagement between human beings.When we are Peer Coaching we send two strong signals that enable us to trust others and open up with them. One is candor and the other is caring. Together these two signals – when in combination – communicate the highest level of trust known to man. We feel comfortable, safe, and trusting of the person and their intentions – a powerful combination for enhancing our relationships at work and at home.
  • Connect Deeply Means Taking about Challenges With Others: There is nothing more exiting than bonding through challenges!  Find peers who have not worked together before, and put them into peer groups to discuss their Team Challenges.  They will become friends for life!  Our research at the CreatingWE Institute reveals that when we experience working through challenges with others – we elevate these people in our lives as trusted advisors. We listen to them differently. We hold them in our minds and hearts as people we can talk with about everything. Plus, we listen to them differently – we consider their ideas and take their feedback with a higher level of openness than usual. Sharing, trusting and working through challenges with other colleagues without fear of ‘loss’ – enables us to get to the next level of greatness. We become open to feedback vital to our future success.

Judith GlaserJudith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and the Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is the author of the best selling book, “Conversational Intelligence” (Bibliomotion, 2013), an Organizational Anthropologist and a consultant to Fortune 500 companies.Visit her at creatingwe.com; conversationalintelligence.com or contact her at jeglaser@creatingwe.com. Follow Judith on Twitter @CreatingWE or connect with her on Facebook.

You Can’t Fight Human Nature

by Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan

Mayweather. The fight we were always going to watch.

Tongues have been working overtime in recent weeks as pundits try to guess at just how much Floyd Mayweather made from his latest bout against Manny Pacquio.

While the final figure is yet to be known, Mayweather recently told a US radio station the fight could have generated as much as 700 million dollars, of which he receives 60 percent. Now given the bout went the full 12 rounds, this means Mayweather could have been raking in about $12 million dollars a minute.

The final staggering amount of monetary gain is not yet known, but it is definitely the biggest payday (or indeed year) in sport for a single person in history. This number surprises a lot of people. Not because Mayweather is not a man of talent, but rather this surprise stems from his less than pristine personal reputation.

It is widely known that Mayweather is not the pin-up boy for good. Five women have accused him of domestic violence, and he has served prison time more than once. Yet here he is making more money than Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan or any other athlete has made in a year, let alone a day.

Naturally there was the predictable outcry before the bout and the public was asked to boycott the fight, and yet people did not. Instead they paid to watch in numbers that exceeded expectations. All around the world people stood and applauded every punch and blow.

Why? How is it that despite a reputation that one might reasonably expect to hamper his success, the Floyd Mayweather fight not only succeeded, he did so in spectacular fashion.

The answer lies in delving deeper into human behavior.

While we like to think of human nature as being defined by our higher values—selflessness, courage and blinding intelligence—the truth is that most of the time we are anything but.

Rather we are selfish, scared and stupid. Now initially, this description does tend to generate offence, but in fact, these three traits have proven to be more than useful in our species and they are the reason we not only survived but also thrived as a species.

Selfishness meant we looked out for our own and in doing so ensured our survival, being scared meant we laid low in times of danger and stupidity drove us to look for the easiest and least challenging ways to achieve the things we needed to.

These characteristics are wired in to our survival brain and still unconsciously drive us today.

If we look to understand them better we can also understand why we couldn’t look away when Mayweather stepped into the ring. Here is how our selfish, scared and stupid bias drives everything we do:

Think Selfish.

What’s in it for them is perhaps the most important question we can ask when it comes to understanding why people do what they do.

We tend to filter the world primarily through a lens of what’s in it for us. Sure he might not be a role model but he can certainly fight and a great number of people love watching a good boxing match so why should they miss out? After all, he did not hurt them personally or anyone they were connected to?

Some people find this human tendency a little hard to take and point out that many people do in fact care. And of course they’re right, we do. Yet even kindest and most selfless among can be drive by our more selfish drivers (even if this is largely unconscious).

We are all fundamentally driven by some measure of reward, or recognition and the unspoken mantra, “What’s in it for me?”

When we delve a little deeper we quickly learn that we are getting all kinds of ‘selfish gain’ from what we might consider ‘selfless’ behavior. Things like social status, a sense of self or moral worth, the chance to feel like a hero, to feel good about themselves, to have others think we’re good people or even insurance for later in life (or in the next depending on your religious persuasion).

Selflessness, it turns out, can be driven by selfishness – just served up with a heaped helping of self-righteousness into the bargain.

For people watching the Mayweather fight, there was a lot in it for them (enough to outweigh any negatives). The spectacle, the controversy, being part of something built up to feel significant and of course sharing the experience with millions of others all played a part in the fight’s success.

Think Scared.

Stories and legends may speak of the hero on a quest bravely facing the unknown but in reality most of the time we are anything but fearless.

In fact one of the biggest fears that motivates us is isolation, or being ostracized. Partly because being separated from our clan meant that we were more likely to be eaten or maimed back in the days when predators roamed free, but also because we are social creatures also who crave connection and long to fit in.

Connection, it turns out, is more than a want – it is a need. Too much alone time can actually be bad for your health. A 2010 AARP study of the isolated elderly in the US found that isolation was as bad for people as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

So how does this connect to the Mayweather fight? The desire to fit in, to be included, and to be able to join in conversation was a real driver in people tuning in en masse (regardless of their personal opinions of the man). People did not want to miss out.

Fear of missing out even has an acronym for the more youthfully inclined. FOMO.

For many people, FOMO was definitely a key driver for tuning in to the bout. It was an occasion, a place to be seen, and an event not to be missed. The boxing ring became a red carpet affair and rumors even suggest that the Las Vegas airport was closed to private jets due to no more parking space being available.

In short, people were afraid of not seeing the biggest fight in recent history.

Think Stupid.

In other words, how do you make it hard not too?

It was virtually impossible not to know the fight was happening given the controversial nature of Mayweather himself, the ten-year build-up to the bout and the media coverage. And the media distribution made it difficult to avoid. Not only was it easy to get involved, it proved difficult not to be, and this is key to its success.

Making things easy to engage with is critical. Yet so often in life and in business we tend not to engineer our ideas that way. We add layers of complexity, we unintentionally build in friction and we put superfluous steps in the way.

If we want people to connect, to change behavior or do be moved to support our cause we need to make signing up, joining in and participating as easy as possible.

That is the genius of Thinking Stupid.

At the end of the day it is about being honest about what makes us do the things we do and swimming with the current of human nature. If we’re honest about what really drives us at a very fundamental level, we begin to understand that despite Mayweather’s questionable out of the ring persona and any personal misgivings we might have about the sport itself, the hardest fight is taking on human nature.

Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan are behavioral researchers and strategists, specializing in behaviors and belief systems–what drives, motivates and influences us. They have won business awards around the world for Innovation, Creativity and ROI working with such organizations as Coca-Cola, Unilever, News Corp and the United Nations in Singapore. They are passionate advocates for the commercial power of creativity and a return to more human engagement, cultures and leadership. Published by WILEY, Kieran and Dan’s new book Selfish, Scared & Stupid is available from The Impossible Institute. They can be followed on Twitter @DanGregoryTII and @KieranFTII.

4 Myths About Solar Energy Every Business Owner Should Know

by Virginie Glaenzer

Developments in the green energy sector have begun to significantly increase the presence of renewable energy in our everyday lives. Today, nearly 17% of the energy used in New York comes from renewable resources, making New York the fifth-largest user of renewable electric power in America.[1]

As renewable options become more and more viable, the option to generate or purchase renewable energy becomes increasingly attractive. One of the easiest ways for businesses to do this is with solar power.

But there are many misconceptions that come with solar power. Let’s take a look at four of these common myths.

  • Myth #1: Solar panels are too expensive.

Truth: There are many zero-cost leasing options. Many solar providers, such as our partner, Dynamic Energy, will install a solar system on a roof for no money down. And while a solar panel system costs between $15,000 and $40,000, businesses can apply for rebates, tax credits, and other incentives to drastically reduce costs. Furthermore, solar panels provide very strong financial returns, especially when purchased outright.

  • Myth #2: You need constant sunshine for solar to work.

Truth: Solar irradiation levels (the levels of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area during a given time) vary across the United States, but every state receives enough sunlight to make solar a good investment. Solar panels continue to produce a significant amount of energy on overcast days. In fact, Germany has more solar irradiation than any other country in the world (and six times the installed capacity of the U.S.), yet their solar resource is roughly equivalent to that of Alaska.[2] Solar energy production can work in almost any climate, as long as the panels are properly installed in un-shaded locations at the proper tilt and orientation.

  • Myth #3: Solar panels can only be installed on new roofs.

Truth: New roofs are not a requirement for installing solar panels. In addition, many solar providers will remove and re-install the panels if a roof repair is needed.

  • Myth #4: Switching to solar will be complicated and time consuming.

Truth: Switching to solar does not need to be complicated. A professional solar company will handle the installation from start to finish, and file all the associated paper work. Plus, most projects only take between 3 to 6 months.

If you are interested in learning more about purchasing renewable energy, watch this video to better understand renewal energy certificate. If you have questions about purchasing solar energy, schedule a discussion with a solar expert today.

[1] http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/83070.html

[2] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/08/germany-has-five-times-as-much-solar-power-as-the-u-s-despite-alaska-levels-of-sun/

Virginie Glaenzer With over 20 years of experience in the U.S. and international markets, much of it in management, sales, and marketing for many high tech companies, Virginie is a seasoned business expert in SaaS and new technologies, founding two software start-ups and establishing authority as an entrepreneur, social media, mobile, and digital marketing maven. Virginie holds a master degree from HEC, one of France’s top 3 business schools, as well as a Major in Management, and a Minor in Business Administration. Connect with her on LinkedIn and on Twitter @VirginieG. For more information about Great Eastern Energy, please visit www.greateasternenergy.com.

How Adaptable are YOU?

by Dr. Tony Alessandra

What IS Adaptability?
The concept of adaptability, as developed by Dr. Michael O’Connor, co-author of The Platinum Rule®, is a two-part process.  It combines flexibility with versatility
·        Flexibility is your willingness to adapt. It is your attitude. 
·        Versatility is your ability to adapt. It is your aptitude.
The first half of the high adaptability formula – Flexibility.
Confidence + Tolerance + Empathy + Positiveness + Respect for others =FLEXIBILITY. 
·        Confidence – you believe in yourself, you trust your own judgment and resourcefulness.
·        Tolerance – you are open to accepting opinions and practices that are different from your own. 
·        Empathy – a deep understanding of another’s situation. 
·        Positiveness – a positive attitude leads to positive events in your life.
·        Respect for others – the sincere desire to understand and consider other people’s choices, commitments and needs in relation to your own.
BEWARE!  These are traits that undermine your ability to successful adapt:
Ø Rigidity -“It’s my way or the highway”
Ø Competition with others – “I’m smarter, prettier, etc., thank you”
Ø Discontent “No, I don’t like it this way.  Why can’t we…”
Ø Unapproachable – “Don’t bother me unless it’s worth my time and you agree with me”
Ø Difficulty with Ambiguity – “Let’s nail this down right now”
The second half of the high adaptability formula – Versatility. 
Resilience + Vision + Attentiveness + Competence + Self-correction =VERSITILITY. 
·        Resilience – knowing how to overcome setbacks, barriers and limited resources.  If you keep on going until you succeed, that is resilience.
·        Vision – having the power to imagine, be creative, and suggest alternatives.
·        attentiveness – knowing when to act and when not to act. It means paying attention to more than your own needs.
·        competence begins with expertise. In addition, it also involves a problem-solving ability that goes beyond your specialty. It means having a can-do attitude and following through on it.
·        self-correction – once you initiate a project, you ask for feedback and place a high priority on problem solving, not on being right. It is being able to say, “I think this approach isn’t working.  I’d better try something different.”
BEWARE!  There are traits that undermine your ability to successful adapt:
Ø Subjectiveness – “This is the way it looks to ME”
Ø Bluntness – “That’s a stupid idea!”
Ø Resistance “This is the way we’ve always done it”
Ø Single-mindedness – “It’s my goal and nothing else matters”
Ø Unreasonable Risk-taking – “I’m going to jump, won’t you come with me?”
Adaptable people meet other peoples’ needs and their own. They know how to negotiate relationships in a way that allows everyone to win.  With adaptability, you are practicing what I call The Platinum Rule® – treating other people the way they want and need to be treated.

Tony_Alessandra-559410-editedDr. Tony Alessandra earned his PhD in marketing (1976) & has authored 31 books & 100+ audio/video programs. He was inducted into the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame (1985) & Top Sales World’s Hall of Fame (2010). He is also the CEO of Assessments24x7, a company that equips coaches, trainers and consultants with dozens of assessments (DISC, Motivators, HVP, etc.) from one, easy-to-use online account. Interested in one of these assessment accounts, fill out THIS FORM. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAlessandra.

From Buzzwords to Implementation: Keeping your Marketing Relevant

by Jeff Tomlin

Every marketer says that telling the story is the way to go. It’s become such a generic piece of advice that, although relevant, now seems almost as commonplace as “the medium is the message.” But here’s another marketer here to tell you it’s true. According to an online survey of 1,000 US marketers, 76 percent of us believe that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the past fifty. What is true for marketers is true for companies—the marketing landscape has changed dramatically and companies need to find the new path to follow, or better yet, lead.

So what’s changed? The medium and the tools, yes, but much more than just that. Your customers have changed. How you allocate your budget has changed. Who you hire has changed. Who sets your brand’s message has changed. In short, nearly everything is different. Here are three things you need to do to stay relevant in the digital marketing landscape.

Broaden expertise in the marketing department. Long gone are the days when marketers need only know how to write slogans and design billboards (if that were ever the case). Companies need content creators, data analysts, influencers and learners. Most of all, marketers need to be well versed with technology. They need to know how to manage brands online, how to get people talking and sharing content, how to dig into analytics, how to source relevant data—the skillset attributed to marketers is undergoing a rapid evolution, and will continue to change as long as technology is driving business.

Produce engaging content. Inbound and content marketing aren’t just buzzwords—they are an absolute necessity. If your company is still cold calling and emailing people who have never heard of you, you’ve got some catching-up to do. People need to see you as industry leading and relevant. Businesses need to see you as a trusted source of information, providing something of value to them. Then, when they’re ready to buy, you will already have proven yourself as the trusted agency, and the natural choice will be to come to you.

Embrace innovation. This could not be truer than it is today. As your customers evolve, you must evolve, too. Your message and information should be available where your customers are—whether that’s a new industry site, directory, social media platform or news site. If your customers want to offer retargeting, you should be able to, at least, be a source of truth for them, providing knowledge and advice.

As marketing and the way companies communicate with the world continues to evolve, the most important thing to remember is to be flexible. Those resistant to change, will be left behind.

Jeff Tomlin is the co-founder and CMO of Vendasta Technologies, a company that builds white label reputation management, social media marketing and listings management software for some of the most successful media companies in the world. In working with channel partners to help their business clients to grow revenue with digital media solutions, strengthen traditional media assets and develop digital sales strategies, Jeff is known to many of America’s top media companies. Prior to co-founding Vendasta, Jeff was the VP of strategy and business development at Point2, where he helped grow a real estate platform from the ground to power over 185,000 agents in 84 countries. Follow him on Twitter @jtomlin.

8 Inbound Marketing Reports You Can’t Live Without

by Steve Olenski

As a marketer, you’re already familiar with the inbound marketing model: attract online visitors, transform them to leads, and then convince them to become customers. However, it is vital to choose the right reports and make them easy for decision-makers to interpret.

These eight inbound marketing reports will help you get the most for your marketing dollar clarify where your leads come from, which promotions they prefer, and which inbound channels work best for your business.

1. Traffic Sources

Your first job is to identify how people find your website, your social channels, and your content assets. These channels provide the majority of inbound traffic:

  • Organic search. People find your website or blog when they type a query into Google or Bing.
  • Online ads. You purchase pay-per-click ads on search engines or other sides, and those ads lead customers to your landing pages.
  • Social networks. You connect with prospects on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or other social network, and those prospects click your links and visit your site.
  • Referrals. Inbound links from a guest blog post you’ve published on another website direct potential customers back to your website. A prominent blogger mentions your company and provides a link readers can use to find you.
  • Email marketing. When you use email for lead generation, people might click on your newsletters or download your promotional coupons.

2. Lead Sources

Most businesses discover that certain traffic sources deliver more leads than others. For instance, you might receive a lot of traffic from social networks but get the most verifiable leads from organic search. Once you understand which traffic sources create the most leads, you identify where you should spend more of your marketing budget after all not all qualified leads are not created equal.

It’s precisely why marketers need lead management software to automate lead scoring.

3. Leads Per Offer

Some promotional offers attract more customers than others. For example, one white paper might generate more leads than others. It’s a good idea to test different promotions against one another and also to test identical promotions in different contexts. Try testing two versions of a Google AdWords campaign offering the same promotion to see which generates the most leads.

4. Revenue Per Source

Different promotions and marketing channels attract varying qualities of leads. Your Instagram campaign might attract a few big spenders while your email marketing might generate a lot of small transactions. You can choose to invest heavily in high-revenue sources, or you can market products at varying price points over targeted channels. Market in a way that generates maximum revenue, but don’t become too dependent on one big client.

Monitor Lead Nurturing Effectiveness

It’s not enough to run reports; you have to create reports that decision-makers can understand. For example, Windward Studios helps businesses create reports that are professional and easy to interpret.

These reports teach you which lead nurturing methods convert leads into long-term, high-value customer relationships.

5. Contacts Per Persona

Your buyer persona identifies who your customers are. The buyer persona doesn’t have to be the person making the purchase; it could also be someone who influences the final decision-maker. Focus your marketing dollars on the personas that lead to the most purchases. Also, challenge your assumptions about your personas, and don’t hesitate to reconfigure them as you learn more about your customers.

6. Investment Per Opportunity Generated

Ideally, you want to keep your cost per lead low to stay under your marketing budget. At the same time, some leads become big spending customers, so investing more money into nurturing them becomes worthwhile. Use this report to identify which leads cost a lot of money while failing to convert.

7. Revenue Per Opportunity Generated

Getting leads is nice; turning them into paying customers is better. If you notice a low ratio of revenue per lead generated, it’s time to diagnose what’s going wrong with your lead nurturing cycle. You might need to swap out underperforming content from your lead nurturing campaigns or trim your investment in traffic sources that generate low-quality leads.

8. Contacts Per Lifecycle

It’s vital to know the current state of your marketing pipeline. If you’re heavy on new leads, focus your marketing budget on nurturing and getting conversions. If you’re light on new prospects, spend some money on pay-per-click or social brand awareness campaigns. The balance shifts constantly, and your marketing budget needs to shift with it.

*This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.