Friday, October 12, 2018

Fall Reading Recap: Leadership, Branding, and Voice of the Customer Marketing

Have you assembled a stack of “must-read books” left over from your summer vacation? With summer over and the winter holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to catch up on some fall reading. I highly recommend that you add these five leadership, branding, and customer marketing books to your reading list.

Author and business analyst Charlene Li defines an engaged leader “as someone who uses digital, mobile, and social tools strategically to achieve established goals as they relate to leading people and managing organizations…The openness required is unprecedented, and the trust and transparency are mind numbing for many top leaders who are accustomed to maintaining control and proceeding in an orderly and predictable fashion.”

According to Li, there are three actions necessary for leaders to become engaged: listen, share, and engage. “Listening is the way leaders determine what individuals need from them to enhance the relationship and deepen the connection. Sharing is how leaders use stories and other tools to develop mutual understanding and share people’s mind-sets and thus the actions they take. And engagement is a two-way dialogue that motivates and mobilizes followers to act in concert toward a common purpose.”

Consider using Li’s digital leadership development worksheet from the book:

This book written by Ernan Roman has been called “the definitive playbook for the new customer-driven era.” Roman defines Voice of the Customer (VOC) as the term “to describe the process of capturing critical details regarding the desires, needs and requirements of a given prospect, customer, or target group…VOC yields an in-depth understanding of customer and prospect preferences and actions…and is what allows us to give customers what they really want most from us – and avoid the annoyance and alienation that results from offering them what they don’t want.”

Customers want to know that their voices are heard. Once this happens, according to Roman, they look forward to engaging with and doing business with brands. Here are the five steps that all brands should follow:

[1] Conduct and apply VOC relationship research – achieve greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer – the most straightforward way to calculate CLV is to take the revenue you earn from a customer and subtract the money spent on acquiring and serving him/her.

[2] Create VOC-driven opt-in relationship strategies – focus on the relationship rather than the first contact or first sale. [To see some innovative business-to-customer opt-in strategies, check out what Disney Vacations does:]

[3] Create a VOC-driven multichannel mix – your brand’s messaging might include search engine optimization/online advertising, email, print catalog, billboard advertising, in-store advertising, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing.

[4] Create a VOC-driven social media presence – create a presence on the social platforms where your audiences assemble and engage with them with compelling content (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram/IGTV, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.).

[5] Invest in an excellent customer service experience – reduce complaints and increase number of repeat customers.

Perhaps, the best way to define voice of the customer marketing in a nutshell: when a business is proactive in its interactions or touch points with a customer.

In the words of author Brian Smith, the founder of casual comfort brand UGG, “Building a brand, like any natural process, is a gradual, organic, and wildly unpredictable experience.” While many of us have ideas that we think may have the potential to become a national or international brand, the reality is, we don’t. But Smith did, and it’s hard to walk on any street without seeing someone walking in an UGG sheepskin boot. The book shares a myriad of entrepreneurial tips with Smith’s story of bringing UGG footwear to life.

Leadership author, coach, and trainer Erika Andersen challenges readers to become significantly better learners by the end of the book. Based on her research in writing the book, most people don’t like to look dumb if they ask questions or demonstrate a lack of knowledge or understanding. However, “it’s okay to be bad at those parts of your job that you haven’t yet had the opportunity to learn.”

Here was a great example of being bad: “The first time you’re running a meeting and someone who works for you says something you don’t understand, and you take a deep breath and say, “I’m not sure I’m following you – could you explain that in a different way?” it’s going to feel awkward and even a little scary. But then the person will stop and say, “Oh sure…” You’ll listen and understand; the other person will feel important and helpful; and the trust and openness on your team will tick up a few micro-points. In other words, nothing bad will happen…This will make it much easier to “be bad” the next time. Word will get around that you’re really interested in your folks and good to work for, better conversations will happen, and your employees will start to ask curious questions of their own in meetings.”

Be sure to check out the self-talk about “being bad” and the supportive (and more accurate) alternatives on page 172 of the book.

Author Cassandra Frangos has been called “the executive whisperer” by Diversity Women magazine, and her consulting expertise focuses on succession planning, leadership development, and team effectiveness. Her book answers the question, “How can I reach the C-Suite?” by providing an array of insights about the four core paths to the C-Suite:

[1] The tenured executive: internal appointment
Questions to ask: Am I a fit with the culture? Am I passionate about the purpose? Can I change with the organization? Can I create my own opportunities?

[2] The free agent: externally recruited
Questions to ask: Am I a good fit in my present company? What will I do if I am passed over? How fast is my career clock ticking? What is my strategic career plan? Where is my next growth opportunity?

[3] The leapfrog leader: internal or external candidate
Questions to ask: Can I fill a gap in the leadership pipeline? Is the culture stuck, and can I help get it unstuck? Is my functional area of expertise in flux? Are the hiring managers open-minded? Is organizational change imminent?

[4] The founder: new venture creator
Questions to ask: Am I having the impact I want? What problem will I solve? Who are my co-founders? Am I staked financially? Do I have the personal support I need? What will I do if I fail?

In addition to these traditional pathways, there are also the nontraditional pathways: going from consulting to the C-Suite, going to the C-Suite following a merger or acquisition, going from a spinoff to the C-Suite, going from a Board position to CEO, going from COO/CFO/CMO/CSO to CEO, and going from founder/CEO to C-Suite of a different organization.

Bottom line, no two pathways to the C-Suite are the same – they are as different as the leaders who travel them.

What business book is a must-read on your end-of-the-year list? Please chime in and share.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey’s library.

Follow these accounts on Twitter:
Charlene Li: @charleneli with hashtag #EngagedLeader
Ernan Roman: @ernanroman
Brian Smith: @briansmithugg
Erika Andersen: @erikaandersen
Cassandra Frangos: @c_frangos
Wharton Digital Press: @WhartonDigital

Monday, October 1, 2018

Want Some Customer Satisfaction Secrets?

I’ve met many people on social media, but one that stands out in the customer satisfaction arena is Bill Quiseng. On TweetChats, in my Twitter stream, on GooglePlus, on Facebook, and many more social networks, Bill always shares valuable tips and information. Recently, we discussed customer service and customer experience, and highlights follow below a brief introduction. Bill Quiseng is an
award-winning customer service speaker, blogger and writer. He has been recognized for his customer service and customer experience insight on social media with many accolades, most recently as one of the Top Customer Service Influencers of 2018 by Fit Small Business. Subscribe to Bill's Blog at and join him on Facebook at and Twitter at

QUESTION: How do you explain the difference between customer service and customer experience?
BILL QUISENG: Customer service is all about what you do for a customer. But, customer experience is all about how the customer feels about your company. It’s not only how the customer feels about your service, but also how he feels about every aspect of your company, from the ease of navigation on your website to the simplicity of understanding the final invoice, and literally every sensory touchpoint in between. In today’s very competitive marketplace, great customer service merely gets you into the game. Great customer experience makes you a winner.

QUESTION: Your pinned Tweet on Twitter says, “To earn new customers, don’t try to get inside their heads. Get inside their hearts. Create an emotional connection.” Can you please elaborate?
BILL QUISENG: Companies brainstorm elaborate journey maps to ensure that, at every touchpoint, the customer experience is consistent and effortless. They believe that, with expectations met, the customer will be satisfied. But satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers. If the product and services are similar between several competitors, customers will be more loyal to the company that makes them feel important and special. 

Businesses need to understand and educate their employees that there is a difference between taking care of a customer and caring for the customer. For example, taking care of a hotel guest is checking him quickly, giving him a key to a room that is clean and problem-free. Caring for a guest is recognizing that the guest was obviously under the weather and sending up a cup of chicken soup with a note, “Hope you are feeling better soon.” Taking care of a customer is a transaction. Genuinely caring for a customer generates an emotional connection. And emotionally engaged customers are much more loyal than merely satisfied ones.

QUESTION: What customer experience metric should every brand use, and why?
BILL QUISENG: It seems there is an infinite number of ways to measure customer experience, whether it is NPS, CSAT, FCR, AHT, etc. But if your business is truly customer-centric, then you should come to terms with the fact that customers don’t care about your metrics. They only care about this metric: 1 to 1. No one customer cares about any of the other customers. That one customer only cares about himself. And when that customer interacts with your one employee in front of him, he wants to know what that one employee can do for him at that moment. So, there are only two survey questions needed to measure customer experience:

[1] “Did you feel that the Associate cared about you?” Yes or no. 

[2] Why?

But how will you know if you are being successful? Just read the comments to survey question #2 and you’ll know. Then work hard to eliminate the complaints. And when you earn a lot more yes’s than no’s, you will have vastly improved the only metric that matters to any business: PROFIT.

QUESTION: There is a mindset that a focus on employees, rather than on customers, is the best way to improve service. Can you please elaborate?
BILL QUISENG: If you want to win the hearts of your customers, you must first win the hearts of your employees. And as one of their needs, your employees are looking for opportunities for continuous learning and development. Spend as much money training your people to keep a customer as you spend on marketing campaigns to find a new customer. 

If you want to improve the customer experience and drive employee engagement, you should be actively listening to your employees. Every day, every manager should be asking two questions of at least one employee.

[1] “What are you hearing?” 

Listen to what your employees tell you that customers are complaining about and then do whatever it takes to fix it. And remember, if you want your employees to deliver outstanding customer service, you need to make it a habit to recognize them when they do. 

[2] “Is there anything I can do for you?” 

Anything your employees mention is a hindrance or would be a help to doing their job better. Own the feedback and act on any promise made to them. With the intent to deliver exceptional customer service, remember this mantra: Happy Employees = Happy Customers.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite customer service story?
BILL QUISENG: My favorite story is about Joshie the Giraffe. A young boy lost Joshie, his plush giraffe (stuffed animal toy) while vacationing at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island in Florida. When the Loss Prevention team found the stuffed animal, the Ladies and Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton created a scrapbook of Joshie’s extended vacation sunbathing in a chaise lounge, getting a massage in the spa, driving a golf cart, and even working a shift in the Loss Prevention department. That was back in 2012, and now as a legendary customer service story, it resonates long after the actual event has passed.

To read the full story about Joshie the Giraffe by the stuffed animal’s owner’s father, @TheChrisHurn on Twitter, here
s the link:

And to read Part Two – an even better story – by Chris Hurn, here
s the link:

Image Credit: Bill Quiseng.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Less Means More with This Brand's New Name

It's taken a few days for the latest marketing announcement to sink in. In case you're not a doughnut fan, or in this case, a donut fan, you may not have heard the news: After nearly 70 years, Dunkin' Donuts has undergone a rebranding and will now be known simply as DUNKIN'.

According to the company's press release:

Our new name is simpler, shorter and more modern, while still embracing our rich heritage by retaining the familiar pink and orange colors and iconic font that were introduced in 1973. It also speaks to the breadth of our product offerings. We’re all about serving great coffee fast. But we’re also about donuts and baked goods and breakfast sandwiches. All delivered at the speed of Dunkin’.

We are excited to bring the iconic name Dunkin’ to the forefront in a bold way that brings to life how we refill optimism with each cup and bring fun, joy and delight to our guests each and every day. But we’re not changing who we are at the core. We’ve always been, and always will be, a brand that is for on-the-go people, who depend on us to keep running.

And while donuts may no longer appear in our logo, we remain committed to serving our signature donuts and will continue to offer new and seasonal varieties to delight donut lovers everywhere. There is no Dunkin’ without donuts!

You will start to see the new branding on packaging, as well as our advertising, website and social channels beginning in January 2019. The new Dunkin’ logo will also be featured on exterior and interior signage on all new and remodeled locations in the U.S. and, eventually, internationally.

According to Dunkin’ Brands’ CEO and Dunkin’ U.S. President David Hoffmann, “Our new branding is one of many things we are doing as part of our blueprint for growth to modernize the Dunkin’ experience for our customers. From our next generation restaurants, to our menu innovation, on-the-go ordering and value offerings, all delivered at the speed of Dunkin’, we are working to provide our guests with great beverages, delicious food and unparalleled convenience. We believe our efforts to transform Dunkin’, while still embracing our incredible heritage, will keep our brand relevant for generations to come.”

According to Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin' U.S., “By simplifying and modernizing our name, while still paying homage to our heritage, we have an opportunity to create an incredible new energy for Dunkin’, both in and outside our stores. We are bringing the iconic name Dunkin’ to the forefront in a bold way that brings to life how we refill optimism with each cup and bring fun, joy and delight to our customers each and every day.”

What are some key take-aways of this brand transformation? First, if you're a Dunkin' fan, you may be both happy and sad. The name emphasis on donuts may be gone, but the possibility for new products looms on the horizon. And it is clear from everything the top leadership team has said that the brand values its fan base and understands its passion for its products. But a name change is still a name change - just think back to the surprise name change by IHOP earlier this year, when it changed its name to IHOB to shift its emphasis from pancakes to hamburgers.

So, what branding lesson can your brand learn from the Dunkin' name change?

Image Credit: Dunkin'.

Monday, September 24, 2018

5 Tips for Brand Survival in Today's Social Climate

This post originally appeared on Eric Jacobson’s Blog in August. The link can be found by clicking here. Eric and I met in 2009, when we worked together virtually for MicroMentor – Eric in Kansas, and me in California. Since then, Eric has appeared on my Blog four times as a featured guest and countless times with memorable quotes. Eric has more than a quarter-century of experience in both leadership and product development, and I’m honored that he asked me to share my perspective on this important branding and social media topic.

Image Credit: Twitter.

There is no denying that social media has changed how brands communicate. All aspects of business have been affected from technology to human resources to marketing. Even more important, all employees have become their own personal brands – some even major influencers – with their own fans and followers. Therefore, in today’s social climate, who owns a brand’s messaging?

Employees can post content to damage an employer’s brand, and customers can post content to damage a brand. This has dramatically changed how brands interact with and respond to their customers, prospective customers, fans, media, and other stakeholders.

So, while many of your employees may understand social media, does your brand understand its nuances? How well does your brand navigate among the myriad of social platforms? How do you choose which platforms to allocate time and money? Do you know where the majority of your audiences congregate? And most importantly, do your stakeholders engage with YOU on social media?

While you may have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, if you’re not posting regularly and conversing with fans and followers, you’re wasting your time. So, in order for your brand to survive for the long haul in today’s social climate, here are five tips.

If you’re launching a new product or service, make an announcement and let your customers and fans know. If there is a delay, be up front and also make that announcement. If there is a problem, make that announcement. Don’t wait for a member of the media or, even worse, the competition to discover the delay or problem. Their announcement will not be kind. Own the news – that way, you craft your brand messaging and narrative.

Maintain a consistent name for all social media platforms. If a brand name is not available, use a familiar tagline. If “Nike” had been unavailable, the company could have used “JustDoIt,” and everyone would immediately have recognized that any account with that name belonged to Nike. With all the social sites available to your brand, take time to conduct a social media audit and re-evaluate the names of all your accounts.

Create and use hashtags with your brand name, your company name, key employees if they are industry influencers, and more. And use these hashtags on all your social platforms. You may even use them on traditional marketing collateral, such as, business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc. Hashtags are a way to stand out and introduce your brand to more audiences. Currently on Instagram, you’re able to add 30 hashtags to a single post.

If you only want certain feedback, otherwise known as five stars, don’t ask for it. Some customers will be long-winded, others will be positive, and some will be negative. To quote Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” So, as with the rest of your social media strategy, which must be aligned with your overall annual marketing plan, have a feedback plan. Instead of drafting a simple survey, think of why questions and responses would benefit your leadership team. In addition, you may decide to use a number of customer satisfaction tools to gauge customer loyalty, company health, or brand health (for example, Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction Score, or Customer Lifetime Value) – if you do, understand the value they can provide.


Set up alerts for your brand, company name, industry, and more. This will let you know when others are talking about your brand or brands and allow you to chime in when appropriate. You will also be quickly informed if someone says something negative or untrue about your brand so you can comment or chose to remain silent. You may also wish to set up alerts about your competition and key influencers in your industry. The sites to use are Google Alerts ( and Talkwalker (

There are a few important things to remember in social media. First, there are so many Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, etc., that the likelihood of one of your posts going viral is slim-to-none. But then again, you never know. With that in mind, second, make sure that whatever you post would not embarrass your brand. There are too many stories about brands losing spokespeople and market share due to a single tweet. And third, keep in mind that once content has been posted, it will assume a life of its own. You never know who might see it.

In 2009, soon after I joined Twitter, I shared a blog post, and shortly thereafter, Maxine Clark, Founder and then-President of Build-A-Bear, retweeted my tweet. We corresponded a bit on Twitter and then via email, and soon afterward, we spoke about branding, marketing, and plush animals by phone – truly, a Twitter success story!

Lastly, memorize my favorite tweet from customer experience expert Vala Afshar and practice it every day. If you do, your brand will be a memorable social media survivor! 

TWEET THIS: Don't do social, be SOCIAL: Sincere, Open, Collaborative, Interested, Authentic and Likeable. –@ValaAfshar

For more about Instagram hashtags:

For more about NPS:

For details about 9 Customer Success Metrics to Boost Business Growth:

Monday, September 17, 2018

Does Your Brand Pop on Instagram? 5 Branding Tips from Beverage Brands

Twitter is the social network known for brevity and sometimes pithy thoughts. Facebook is the network for connecting and sharing updates and photos with family and friends. LinkedIn is known for professional networking. And Instagram is known as the social platform where visual posts make the most impact.

You’ve heard the saying that, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, in today’s social era, most people look at photos, illustrations, and videos more than they read 1,000-word blog posts, newspaper articles, or white papers. Who reads white papers anymore? But back on point, many industries use Instagram successfully to promote their products or services, but one industry in particular is a good fit for this platform, the beverage industry. The following five beverage brands can teach all industries how to be Instagram experts. Check out their five branding tips.

While initially known for warm drinks, such as, lattes and cappuccinos, Starbucks created cold coffee and non-coffee drinks to expand its product line and increase its market share. A typical post shared by a fan with the caption, “Sandy beaches and strawberry sunsets,” demonstrates the brand’s fun and colorful spirit.

Color is the name of the game on Instagram – especially with beverage brands. How does your brand integrate color and colorful settings? Are your products naturally colorful? If not, strategically integrate colorful settings that serve as visual contrast. Yellow, blue, and pink are good background colors – and don’t ever forget the power of white space. Lastly, an image with just a brand name and tagline can speak volumes.

While initially known for its high-end home-brewing coffee machines, Nespresso created boutiques, sit-down cafes that serve food to accompany its delicious coffee. Visitors can sample the products in real time while receiving excellent service. In this sample post, Nespresso showed one of its drinks as it would be served in a Nespresso boutique. You can almost taste the coffee from the photo and imagine sitting in the boutique checking out all the high-end coffee brewers.

Does your brand showcase how it operates? Does it showcase its product line in a variety of settings and situations? Do you showcase customers simply enjoying your products? And, if you have a new delivery mode for your products, make sure to also promote it.

Known initially for its 100 percent orange juice, Minute Maid showcases its other products to introduce customers and fans to its many drinks. In this sample post, the Berry Punch was featured with strawberries to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Do you add holidays to your marketing strategy? While some holidays are celebrated in the USA, such as, the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, there are countless other special days that may be appropriate for your brand to recognize and celebrate. For example, if you are a cosmetics brand, you may want to celebrate National Lipstick Day (July 29) with a free lipstick give-away discount – think of the many images of lipstick and lips you could post. If you are an ice cream brand, you may want to celebrate National Ice Cream Day (July 15) – think of the many images of ice cream in cones, waffle cups, or pies that you could post with happy faces. And if you’re a lawyer or law firm, you may want to recognize National Be Kind to Lawyers Day (April 10) – there are too many images that you could post for this special day.

Known as a French brand of carbonated water, Perrier is more well-known throughout Europe. But for those who drink carbonated water, the brand is second-to-none. This post celebrated America’s Fourth of July.

Does your brand celebrate global events? Did your brand celebrate or promote Prince Harry’s Royal Wedding in England in May? Did your brand celebrate or promote the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016? How about the last French Open tennis tournament? Of course, if you make tennis rackets, you may have created a contest for two lucky fans to win a trip to Paris to attend the French Open. I’m sure you could have designed a great image for Instagram including all the details in your description.

Known as the light beer “born in the Rockies,” Coors Lite often posts on Instagram with its characteristic Colorado mountains and highlights mountain climbing in some manner. In this post, hashtags #MondayMotivation and #ClimbOn are featured with a caption, “Try something so new it doesn’t even have a hashtag,” and then it invites a fill-in-the-blank for fans.

Do you invite your customers and fans to engage in conversations in social media? Do you ask questions that entice fans to share a comment? Do you include a fill-in-the-blank in your questions? Do you invite fans to add their own hashtags? If yes, do you read and respond to all the comments, and in a timely manner? If you answered no to all these questions, you are either not asking the right questions, or you’re not asking at all.

As you work to expand your brand’s digital footprint in Instagram, remember that your social media marketing must be aligned with your overall marketing strategy for brand consistency. And lastly, don’t forget the purpose of social media. In the words of customer experience expert Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar on Twitter), “Don’t do social, Be SOCIAL: sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic, and likeable.”

Image Credits: Collage made with Layout app. Thanks to these Instagrammers:
@Starbucks, @Doctor_K_2017, @Perrier, @CoorsLight, @MInuteMaid_US, @Nespresso, and

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Employee Engagement's Link to Leadership

It’s a fact that if one is active in social media, one can build an amazing and inspiring network. Recently, I “met” Shea Heaver through my activity on Instagram and Twitter because we share an interest in employee engagement, and I invited him to appear on my Blog. Highlights from our Q&A appear below Shea's introduction.

Shea Heaver grew up, was educated, and started his career in Northern Ireland before moving to South Florida in the mid-late 1990s. Drawing on his years of management experience in the global IT field, he became a passionate promoter of a people-centric culture to improve organizational performance. Through his work in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, etc., he increasingly realized that individuals who feel valued lead to teams that are motivated, innovative, and highly productive. Shea founded Satisfaction At Work, with a focus on helping organizations achieve higher Employee Engagement, improve Leadership, increase Job Satisfaction, and become a Better Place to Work. Connect with Shea on LinkedIn (, Instagram (@SheaHeaver), Twitter (@SheaHeaver), and on his websites ( and

QUESTION: Your pinned tweet on Twitter says "A person who feels appreciated will do more than is expected." Can you elaborate with some examples?
SHEA HEAVER: When significant people in our lives listen, value our contribution, and reward us appropriately, we feel valued. For example, we feel happy and smile when a family member or friend gives us a gift, invites us to dinner, sends us a greeting, or simply says something nice to us or about us. That feel good sensation is a result of our brains releasing four main chemicals - Endorphin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Serotonin. When these chemicals are present, our trust is heightened, we have more energy, and we feel valued.

This directly impacts on our senses of self-worth and confidence, allowing us to work to our full potential. At work, when employees feel highly regarded by their peers and management, their self-esteem rises, and they become happier, motivated, and much more productive.

TWEET THIS: A person who feels appreciated will do more than is expected. ~@SheaHeaver #EmployeeEngagement #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: How do you define onboarding? How do you define employee engagement? How can onboarding help with employee engagement?
SHEA HEAVER: Onboarding is a key element of introducing a new employee to their team and the overall organization – and should start prior to their first day on the job via ongoing communication soon after the employee has accepted a position.

Employee Engagement has a myriad of definitions and there’s a plethora of experts, authors, and consultants willing to bend your ear on the subject. My personal interpretation (that I’ve stuck to for a while) is that “Employee Engagement is the demonstrative passion, loyalty, and effort the workforce gives to their job, their team, and the organization.”

To assist with engagement, the onboarding process must go beyond HR forms and orientation by helping the new employee get to know the people they will be working with, encourage them to share expectations, and talk openly about the current culture (the good and not so good).

Their manager must take time to get to know the person beyond the resume and interviews they have already looked at. They need to make an early, personal connection with the individual and understand what is needed to get the best out of them.

QUESTION: What are a few ways to empower employees to build a culture that results in success?
SHEA HEAVER: First, we must take the burden of building a winning culture out of the hands of Human Resources and Management. A productive culture is built at the local level with the 3, 7, 9 or whatever smaller number of people we work with day in and day out. The idea of surveying employees once a year and then having others decide universally what to do is antiquated and irrelevant today.

A successful company culture is achieved when workplace relationships are strong, and to that end, the focus must be on items such as Openness, Motivation, and Feedback.

Openness is the ability to talk freely (yet respectively and constructively) about needs, feelings, and concerns. It is about a transparent dialogue with our peers where we neither hide nor sugar coat what we are thinking. It is also about being receptive to new ideas, questions, and feedback.

There is no universal source of Motivation, and financial reward may not be the big motivator that many think it is. Some people prefer the opportunity of bigger, newer tasks if they complete what they are currently working on while others don’t want change. It’s all about determining individual needs and wants.

Feedback is about sharing your reactions to another person’s ideas and/or behaviors. It is a way of letting them know to what extent he or she is furthering the objectives of the business. Feedback is not about assigning blame, criticism, or passing judgment. It is a conversation about your needs whilst respecting the needs of the other person. This leads to collaborative problem-solving on both sets of needs.

QUESTION: You share an Employee Engagement Calculator online. Can you explain it and why all leaders should take the time to use it? Here's the URL:
SHEA HEAVER: The Employee Engagement calculator lets the user update a few parameters such as number of employees, average salary, turnover percentage, time lost to conflict, etc., and it immediately shows how much THEY may be losing due to employee dysfunction, poor workplace relationships, and misguided leadership. Reading that the overall economy is losing $450 Billion (1) annually makes a nice headline - but realizing YOUR 500-employee company may be (needlessly) losing almost $4,000,000 from its bottom line each year due to disengagement is much more important to the CFO, CIO and other leaders.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?
SHEA HEAVER: While we look at Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and others as Brand Ambassadors at huge multinational companies, that’s not the norm. I think the best way for most CEO’s to be brand ambassadors is to believe in, trust, and empower their workforce to help build employee engagement and develop a culture that everyone is excited to be a part of. This in turn will boost motivation, productivity, and loyalty to the company. And when employees are delivering quality services/products while also openly talking positively about the organization, you then have a holistic approach to promoting the brand.

TWEET THIS: The best way for most CEO’s to be brand ambassadors is to believe in, trust, and empower their workforce to help build employee engagement and develop a culture that everyone is excited to be a part of. ~@SheaHeaver #BrandAmbassadors

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does that mean to you?
SHEA HEAVER: I believe leadership generally has two functions in any organization: (1) Advance and nurture the business and (2) Advance and nurture the people in the business. Advancing the people in the business is the more complex and important of the two, and in this context, it is about getting the best from your people by helping them be the best they can be.

A good leader realizes that they must empower the employee to do the best they can by giving them direction and ongoing feedback - and then letting them get on with it. When needed, the leader acts as a facilitator or mentor to help get things done while assisting in the navigation around barriers or obstacles that may crop up.

TWEET THIS: A good leader realizes that they must empower the employee to do the best they can by giving them direction and ongoing feedback - and then letting them get on with it. ~@SheaHeaver #EmployeeEngagement #LeadershipTip

My gratitude and appreciation to Shea for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his insights about employee engagement and its link to leadership.

Image Credit: Shea Heaver.

Source from question 4: (1)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Where Does #BrandStorytelling Fit in Your Marketing Strategy?

How do you cause disruption in your segment? You may alter your pricing, so that customers notice your brand when compared to your competitors. You may alter your product offering by adding some appropriately aligned items. And you may offer discounts to entice buyers to visit your retail stores on holiday weekends. But, do you feature brand storytelling in your marketing? The easiest way to appeal to your customers is to create memorable stories.

Dave Sutton (@TopRightPartner on Twitter), author of MARKETING, INTERRUPTED, wrote, "The power and impact of your brand, your product, your services and your story comes from making the customer the hero, and you, the marketer, serving as the guide on their buying journey."

Consider two famous icons in the automotive industry and their personal stories: Henry Ford and Elon Musk. According to Sutton, "Ford aspired to transform the marketing for automobiles, which at the time were expensive toys for the wealthiest few, into a mass marketed vehicle for the many…He was an industrialist and the father of the modern assembly line mode of production." Musk wants his Tesla "to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible…He is known as an explorer, inventor, and engineer."

Sutton used these examples to explain that everyone has a personal brand story – more than what you do for a living. "It speaks to who you are and what you represent – it speaks to the core of why you do what you do." Personal brand stories are key to understand the importance of brand storytelling.

"The most remarkable personal stories are generally about a transformational journey. What traditions and norms must be challenged? What are the treacherous obstacles to overcome and pitfalls to avoid? What overwhelming odds must be beat? Who are the villains that must be conquered? Who are the dragons that must be slayed along the way? By bringing this level of clarity of action, you can create a more compelling and emotive story for yourself and the journey you want your audience to accompany you on."

Despite all the messages that bombard us all day long – whether in emails, texts, pop-up ads, TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, etc. – no one wants to be interrupted. Everyone wants their time to be valued and respected. As Sutton wrote, "This calls for marketing to make a change: a change in how customers understand you, engage with you and experience you."

So, will you alter your marketing before it’s too late? 

TWEET THIS: No one wants to be interrupted. This calls for marketing to make a change: a change in how customers understand you, engage with you and experience you. ~Dave Sutton @TopRightPartner

Image Credit: