Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sell your ideas by knowing your audience

A recent study found five distinct decision-making styles among executives.
  1. Charismatics who show exuberance during a sales presentation, but yield a final decision on a balanced set of information.
  2. Thinkers who exhibit often contradictory points-of-view within a single meeting through a barrage of questions.
  3. Skeptics who remain highly suspicious of each data point due to their very strong egos.
  4. Followers who make decisions based on how other trusted executives made them or decisions they've made previously.
  5. Controllers who focus on the pure facts and analytics of the offering due to their large amounts of fear and uncertainty.
Be ready to adapt to the person's attitude during your discussion. And, don't assume you're dealing with Skeptics, who are only about 19% of the typical middle management demographic. You're more likely to find Followers or Charismatics in the room. So, as you sell your idea, observe your audience and adapt your pitch accordingly -- you just might find a greater success rate.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Back to basics, back to profits

In trying to expand Legos beyond itself, the company allowed their focus on the actual toy to drift. This created problems, as people like Legos for what they are - a toy with which to play and create. In 2005, Lego shifted its focus back to basics, selling the theme parks and lessening expansion efforts in order to focus on creating toys. This apparently proved a great move for Lego, as sales are now soaring. Lego controls 60% of the $600 million U.S. construction toy market, astounding numbers when you note that it was failing less than five years ago. Plus, the iconic toy is better than ever, as the company has been bringing back old favorites and inventing new lines. They have also addressed the challenge of kids growing out of toys at younger ages by adding an interactive feature. For many of the new lines, after the actual product has been constructed, kids can then play with them in other ways, such as with moveable race cars and electric powered rides. While this allows for the video game child to be entertained, it still features Legos in their ultimate form: colorful blocks for building. And those blocks are building Lego right back into the place it wants to be -- profitable.
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Branding insights from Buddhist traditions

In both the spiritual and secular worlds, the individual search for the soul calls for an understanding of the self in the context of the world around them. Spiritual growth is all about enlightenment through understanding the higher power, the journey, and the world around you.

The link to branding lies in how effective branding creates relevance and connects an individual with an aspect of the larger community and creates relevance and that in developing effective brands, one must keep an open mind and make strong observations.

Bernard Liebov postulates three strands of brand research "in the Buddhist way:"
  1. Generate an internal understanding of the brand. Look to those who are ultimately in control of where the brand will go and determine future pathways for an accurate and encompassing brand.
  2. Understand the connection of the consumers' immediate world to create a strong path for the brand's growth and establishment.
  3. Connect the brand in the context of the broader world. Identify an open space that can be filled by the brand and how that space relates to others.
Remember that everything a brand does should be reflective of its core identity, and that consistency serves as the ultimate reward for those who work behind the brand. Connect to a purpose, generate a vision of achievement, create a plan of action and communicate consistently to that end. Good practice, good business -- and maybe, just maybe, enlightenment too.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Relationships Behind Big Growth for Nonprofits

Since 1970, more than 200,000 non-profit groups have been established in the United States. Of those, only 144 of them have reached $50 million in annual revenue.

In a recent study and discussion conducted by Stanford University's School of Business, non-profit leaders discussed the challenges they face and their effective methods for growing a non-profit organization. All leaders agreed that funding organizational growth is a difficult task, and those over $50 million mark noted a different approach to raising funds.

Larger non-profits succeed based on relationships. They focus on creating one long-term relationship with one funding source, like a corporation or the government. And, they didn't put all their eggs in one basket -- they still pursued diversification and risk management strategies.

Of 101 organizations that have a dominant funding source, over 20% had a secondary source that accounted for more than 10% or more of their revenue. What does it all mean? Focus on building relationships and go big if you can, but don't turn your back on everyone else.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Designing products, utilizing culture

Design Issues in Europe Today addressed the place of culture within all forms of design. As design enhances, it is becoming more and more difficult to differentiate products and services based solely on the way they appear. Where design alone cannot create a differentiating stance, a brand's cultural value (represented by its aesthetics, significance and function) works to set it apart from everything else. Users and consumers demand something more than just functions, they want values, and they want to find them within everything with which they interact. This is already quite visible in certain categories, such as food, clothing, and real estate, where culture lies at the base. But this need for culture and value is extending into new areas, such as airlines, banking services, and electronic goods. Culture needs to be communicated at all times in order to maintain the connection with the public. Use is relevant, but what lies beneath is becoming even more important.
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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Encourage Do Gooder Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers today are volunteering at higher rates than the two generations before them, but their one-in-three attrition rate could be a problem in the future, according to a new study by the Corporation of National and Community Service. More than one in three Baby Boomers (aged 46 to 57 years) volunteer their time, essentially creating a volunteer explosion in the nonprofit sector. If this increase in volunteers is harnessed properly, the capacity of nonprofit organizations can be enhanced by great measures.

Religious organizations top the list of favored volunteer outlets, followed by education or youth services. Less of an emphasis was placed on being involved with civic, political, business and international activities.

The bad news of this study comes from the fact that more than one in three Boomers who volunteer one year do not volunteer the next, and their volunteer slots may not be filled upon their departure. This is troubling, as volunteers are a critical part of the charitable-sector workforce. A 30 percent turnover rate for volunteers is not a good thing for nonprofit success.

Commitment to volunteering among Boomers increases as the number of hours donated grows, with almost eight in 10 people giving 12 or more weeks a year continuing to volunteer. Additionally, there is a strong connection between volunteering and donating. This, in turn could translate the encouragement of volunteering into greater financial and in-kind contributions from volunteers.

Takeaway: boost your nonprofit by communicating a clear purpose and clear opportunity to volunteers.
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Monday, April 02, 2007

Pillars for Social Marketing

A feature on outlines five pillars of social media marketing through the Internet and Web site design. In order to maximize effectiveness and impact upon the public, it states the following five forms of action are recommended.
  1. Declaration of Identity: This phase requires an organization to declare its value, who they are, and where you can find them. This needs to be clearly articulated so that public interest is heightened, while simultaneously bringing them back to the organization. Clear facts and information should be presented throughout the medium.
  2. Identification Through Association: This act is basically about getting people to associate themselves with the organization. This is hopefully largely achieved through the clear establishment of its identity (as stated above), but takes it to the next level and pushes the public to talk to others.
  3. User-Initiated Conversation: The public comes to the organization with their declarations and questions, largely emerging from interactions thus far, and the organization needs to respond. This is very important to the success of the organization, as it needs to cater to the needs and questions of the public. Basically, it’s about customer service.
  4. Provider-Initiated Conversation: This is the time when organizations need to probe the public on how they feel, what they like, what they hate, and how they think. Feedback is invaluable. It’s important to express to the public the value in their opinions, as it can make a lot of positive change emerge.
  5. In-Person Interaction: This is the pinnacle form of interaction. After users have visited a Web site and established what exactly they want from it and are receving from it, the interaction needs to be taken to the next level. This solidifies and expands opinions and feelings toward brands.

It has been complicated to achieve this notion in the past through internet-based interactions because of the fact that no one has created a solid structure from which everyone should work, and the problem of overlap of functionality within Web sites. This can be addressed by truly understanding objectives and how to best associate those with the identified targets.

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