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100 Years since World War I: Business Strategy Lessons

100 Years since World War I Business Strategy Lessons

This year, July 28 marks the 100th year since World War I broke out on the same day in 1914. Although the war basically imploded within Europe, it reached global proportions when the United States and Japan joined the Allies (UK, France and Russia), while several other nations supported the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary).

With over 70 million military personnel drawn in, of which around 9 million were killed, WW1 became one of the most significantly extensive wars in history.

Warfare, especially of this scale, is practically a game of strategy. Are there lessons for business marketers to take from WW1?

Flaws can sometimes be hidden in plain sight

Even before the war, there was already growing tension between the countries. Either they ignored the signs or were totally unaware, the fact remains that the feud could have been easily prevented – or at the very least, pacified – had they been more observant.

Marketers often encounter irregularities on a regular basis but choose to ignore them. It’s the little things that usually account for major disasters, and as the people tasked to maintain the stability of a business, no small detail should be taken for granted.

The influence of leaders should not be taken lightly

Oftentimes, a leader’s idealism, prejudice or even stubbornness may take control of the real motives of warfare, and this influences majority of the actions involved. WW1 was not an exception to this, especially considering the number of nations involved.

Remember, even in business, the role of a leader is very crucial. His or her mindset will dictate decisions that need to be made, spawning actions that could make or break the company. It’s always wise to choose a leader that knows how to objectively take charge and is able to set aside his or her personal agenda.

Mistakes beget mistakes

A lot of people profess that  WW1 wasn’t really resolved; that the real problem was swept under the rug for the sake of taking a break from a burdensome war. The agreements made in the supposed ‘closure’ only bred vengeance and repulsion amongst the involved parties, and WW2 was practically a sequel that was waiting to happen.

Marketers cannot afford to ignore the possibility of a setback to recur. Hence, actions should aim toward a permanent fix rather than a band-aid solution. A business venture is mostly a one-in-a-million shot for success wherein second chances are hard to come by.

 

Lead Engagement: Is this Lead Generation version 2.0?

Can you really get to know your prospect just by collecting data through online forms and exchanging a few emails?

The lead generation landscape has been constantly evolving, and it has gone from merely acquiring leads to a more committed approach when it comes to developing that raw prospect into a ripe fruit ready for harvest.

Think of your business as a small antique store. In the old lead generation model, your ‘means’ of attracting customers would be traditional, such as a big signage on the window that says, for example, “Antique collectibles, 20% markdown”. Or maybe a poster that shows all your goodies. Maybe bring outside a small music player to serenade passers-by.

Those are customary approaches to attracting potential buyers.

On the other hand, the new lead engagement model finds alternative ways to seek out customers. The main goal is to get to know them by any means reasonable. In the antique store scenario, to use lead engagement would mean you have to assign one or two personnel to entertain store visitors, ask them about their love for antique items, or maybe get them to sign your mailing list.

Other stores would even go as far as penetrate social groups (you can look for small communities of antique art lovers and introduce your business via social media). Engagement is geared towards knowing what your target market wants and using that data to cultivate genuine interest.

In the B2B sphere, lead engagement is surprisingly easier.

You start out by having buyer personas in mind. If, say, you’re a business that sells IT products and services, you’d have a pretty good idea of who your prospects are. With that particular target in mind, your next move would be to find out where buyers begin their research and purchase journey.

In traditional lead generation, you’d just post an IT-related blog entry and wait for your prospects to fill-out a form. But with lead engagement, you can promote customer education and engagement through targeted marketing messages either via mobile, email or social media.

Not only that you’re showing them how interested you really are by putting yourself in their shoes, you’re also learning an enormous amount of knowledge and gaining true understanding of what they really need and want. That knowledge is fundamental in building a brand that aims to solve your target market’s problems.

Of course, lead engagement entails more time, personnel and tools. If you have the resources, you can ‘test the waters’ first to see if such an approach yields significantly better results – not just by the numbers, but also by how your business prospects respond to your new ‘engaging’ approach.

 

Planning for a Mobile Website for your Business? Consider these 4 Elements

Planning for a Mobile Website for your Business Consider these 4 Elements

One of the biggest frustrations of using a mobile website is its tendency to miss out on the features that are offered on the desktop version.

A lot of people have been used to browsing the web on PCs and laptops that they almost ‘expect’ the same user experience when they browse on their tablets and smartphones.

It’s not an easy task, but for business marketers, it’s imperative that the site visitors would be able to smoothly navigate through the pages and click on buttons without any problems, because that’s where the fate of the lead generation campaign lies.

It’s not just about putting up a mobile version – it’s also about bringing in the same functionality and accessibility. These are the 4 elements you need to consider as proposed by an article from SocialMediaB2B.com:

1. Forms

The best way to capture information from potential customers is through landing page forms. Forms are easier to see and easier to submit contact information on desktops and laptops. Forms on mobile need simplicity. Remember, smaller screens condense the user experience. Drop down boxes are preferred for easy tap, touch and go. The more one-step procedures you can implement for a user the better. In addition, forms require a submission process. Make sure your site’s submission button is operational on mobile devices.

2. Images/Video

Optimize your images. It’s so crucial. A lot of this is taken care of prior to uploading. Images and video that aren’t properly saved for the web will turn visitors away. Long load times are inexcusable for B2B sites hoping to reel in potential customers. Web designers can balance image quality with file size, but you can’t take that for granted. Make sure you maintain quality with quick load times. Test how your images and videos load on variable services and various mobile devices.

3. Usability

Make sure to review your navigation and ease of usability for your B2B site on mobile. One way to make sure the content appears in an easy-to-navigate and visually appealing way is to build the site with responsive web design (RWD). The elements of the website adjust themselves automatically to suit the screen size of the device. RWD is important for more than just a friendly user experience. Some companies maintain two separate websites, one for desktop and another for mobile. With responsive web design that isn’t necessary because you can maintain just one website. While RWD may cost more than traditional website design, in the long run it will save you money because you won’t have to maintain duplicate sets of updates. Having just one site for your business also has a positive impact on SEO for the same reason.

4. Search Queries

Sometimes your audience may want to dig further into your site. With mobile, some users are more apt to head straight to the search bar. But beyond a functioning searching option, it’s imperative to optimize your mobile site properly in Google’s playpen. Google penalizes sites when a desktop page either redirects smartphone user to an irrelevant page or opens smartphone only errors.

Whether you’re just beginning to implement a mobile site or trying to improve your existing one, make sure you consider these elements. When in doubt, it’s best to test and retest as much as possible.

See more at: 4 Elements to Consider to Take a B2B Website Mobile

How To Fail At Your Own Business: A Marketing Insight

Refuse to Innovate

Spend an exorbitant amount of time and effort watching what your competitors are doing while you scramble to figure out how best to copy them without adding any additional benefit to the consumer. Don’t deviate from what your business is already doing by building a bottom-up culture of innovation, constantly testing new hypotheses, and taking risks with the aid of market validation. Continue following the status quo by squeezing every penny out of that shrinking line of business; you’re already on the road to letdown.

Accept Mediocrity

Hire employees who show up at 9 on the dot (hey, maybe even fifteen minutes late) and make sure that when the clock strikes 5 that their stuff is already packed and one foot is out the door. Don’t set or enforce any quality standards, but be sure to emphasize speed of completion. You’re looking for a group whose output is so average you’ll have heart palpitations if you receive an after-hours email from one of them. Since culture is so important to success, you’ll want employees who not only pat themselves on the back for the simplest accomplishments but have a surly attitude while doing so. Remember, once you lower the bar with a few average hires, everyone’s output will suffer. While you’re at it, slack off yourself and boast to anyone who will listen as you barely manage to meet the low end of expectations. You’ll never have to deal with that pesky feeling of success ever again!

Don’t Create a Plan

Have you ever been told to create or participate in a project plan for your business? So much work! You have to identify a glaring need that your company currently struggles with, brainstorm possible solutions, hypothesise on which will work, agree on key performance indicators, breakdown milestones into manageable tasks, test your theories and pivot if necessary. Plans are also great at assembling a group of people motivated against a common problem armed with the sword of shared values. Sounds dangerous and people suck. Best to keep throwing darts in the dark by yourself until you hit the board some day.

Avoid Your Own Dog Food

Why would you use or recommend to a friend the product which you currently spend 35.7% of your awakened life on? That sort of weird self-sponsored corporatism is saved for only really successful companies like Airbnb and Twitter… you know… the ones whose employees actually enjoy what they’re working on. Whatever you do, don’t provide any insight into how your company’s products or services can be improved. In failing companies, this sort of feedback is reserved for upper management only. You wouldn’t want to start a revolution of employee empowerment to make a better product would you? Eyes on the prize.

Cut Corners

As long as something (anything) is completed by that deadline which you arbitrarily set based off of no known data points, does it really matter if the project meets an actual stakeholder need or solves some customer problem? Do we even care if it works? Not if you’re trying to descend the dangerous pyramid of success. In every task you do or delegate, make sure that it’s done as quickly as possible. Team meetings to discuss implementation details, coding standards for your developers, and quality assurance checks just lead to improved understanding of the project and the delivery of a better product. All of this is a waste of time if you’re trying to go nowhere as fast as you can.

Place Blame

The best failures want to insulate themselves from having to bear the burden of any reasonable responsibility for what they are working on or have committed to. One of the tried and true ways of doing this is through the wild pointing of your finger in any direction but inward.

Failure ProTip: You don’t always have to blame people. Try blaming a process, or lack of process, or lack of communication, or office environment. The key is to come up with any excuse for why you can’t motivate others around you to succeed as a group so you can completely detach yourself from responsibility. Note: Placing blame goes well with accepting mediocrity

Give Up

If in the end you’ve tried all of the above but you feel that you’ve not sunk as low as possible, it’s best to just give up. Tired of speaking up to improve process? Replace an insightful suggestion with a thought to yourself that things will never change. Are you finding that getting out into the field to actually understand your customers’ pain-points is difficult or inconvenient? Stop wasting your time and continue to tell them what they want. Are you frustrated that your manager just can’t seem to notice the contributions from your low-intensity 39.25 hours of work each week? Quit. After all, there are all kinds of companies full of average employees who would be impressed by your bare-minimum effort.

What Business Marketers Can Learn from the Legacy of George Washington

What Business Marketers Can Learn from the Legacy of George Washington

If Washington were still alive today, it would have been his 225th birthday this February 22. That’s two and one-quarters centuries.

America’s first ever commander-in-chief has etched a legacy in stone, not only manifested in crisp dollar bills but also in the pages of Revolutionary War history. His contributions will most likely be immortal, and the inspirational principles of morality and strength are things every leader ought to emulate.

What can business marketers learn from one of the founding fathers of the United States?

Act by example, motivate others.

Washington was an initiator. He didn’t confine himself within the secured boundaries of his esteemed rank in office; rather, he chose to be in the front lines of whatever endeavor he wished to undertake. Similarly, while marketing is definitely a team effort, every individual must learn how to take responsibility of their own tasks, whether it’s lead generation, telemarketing or any other forms of online advertising. At the same time, each person must also recognize his or her role in the bigger scheme, and maintain to perform that role for the benefit of the group.

Be consistent with your values.

When marketers carry out activities to promote a brand or business to a target market, they bring with them the task of securing the dignity and reputation of the companies they represent. People would find it hard to believe in a business that says one thing but does another.

One of the many things that made Washington effective as a leader was his consistency inside and out. He stuck to the things he believed in. He was charismatic to those who put faith in him, but he didn’t need to change his beliefs for those who opposed him. An immovable object is stronger than an unstoppable force.

Let the people do most of the talking.

It may be hard to believe that someone as influential and morally strong person as Washington was very silent. He didn’t speak much, but when he did, he gets everyone’s attention. But most of the time, he listened to what other people were saying.

The malady of businesses today is their lack of ability to listen and their uncontrollable urge to keep talking about themselves. Marketers should exert more effort in hearing out their audience so they could offer better products and services, instead of bombarding people with things they don’t really need.