Finding Your Ideal Customers

Today’s businesses must build value for customers if they hope to be successful. Yet, value is a moving target. In our discussion, we will examine how businesses should target their ideal customers by building value for their customers. All customers do not have the same measuring stick for sellers to apply a cookie-cut approach. In fact, globalization has created all types of problems for businesses. One of the issues is how to stay ahead of the competition by exploring new markets while keeping the same customer base. Doing this action is not easy. Many businesses build their profitability on this simple equation. Companies seek to reduce their inputs (i.e., outsourcing labor, using better technologies) to obtain greater profitability. Still, the process is often self-serving with little regard to the customer and lesser value on employees. Therefore, many people might insist that some businesses simply stumble on what customer value is and how it affects their business.

Creating value is not that simple. Some businesses seek to take shortcuts in building relationships with customers with marketing smoke and mirrors. Some organizations simply believe that hiring a large sales force is enough. Jeb Blount, author of Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide for Starting Sales Conversations and Filing the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, E-Mail, and Cold Calling explains, “Lots of salespeople have the intelligence, talent, skills, and education to be top performers. Lots of salespeople are competitive, understand the sales process, and know how to ask for the business. Yet they consistently underperform the superstars… Superstars are relentless, unstoppable prospectors. They are obsessed about keeping their pipeline full of qualified prospects.” Thus, knowing your customers intimately will serve small businesses in creating value for customers.  

Creating value does generate ideal customers.  In identifying ideal customers, businesses target group of marketings who are most attracted to their products and services.  Therefore, businsses tailor their marketing, advertising, and sales efforts for these type of customers. Value is defined as “the total benefit that the seller’s products and services provide to the buyer.” Stephen Castleberry and John Tanner, Jr., authors of Selling: Building Partnerships, argued the critical need for value creation: “Selling is about creating value… The manner in which a product is handled suggests value. Careful handling communicates value, whereas careless handling implies that the product has little value.” Sadly, some business owners do not comprehend how value creation works.

John Jantsch, the author of Duct Tape Marketing, also maintains that building value for customers is no accident: “You can choose to attract clients that value what you offer, view working with you as a partnership, and want you to succeed…” For example, Shawnee’s Chick-fil-A Owner Jeff Madison understands the merit of this concept. Retired U.S. Army Colonel with 26 years of leading U.S. and multinational soldiers and civilians from cavalry scout platoon to the Pentagon, Jeff recognizes the essential of deploying a combat-proven, critically reflective, innovative and decisive strategy in ever-changing conditions. Despite all the MBA type strategies, success starts with building value for customers. Jeff explains, “We create value for our guests by connecting with our guests beyond the transaction (taking their money at the cash registers). We offer genuine hospitality and Matthew 5:41 Second-Mile Service. We carry trays to the table for guests who need assistance.” Madison seeks to build an emotional connection with customers.

With the economic crisis, local businesses need to consider changing what has not worked. In today’s discussion, I demonstrated how businesses can benefit themselves by understanding how to create more value for their customers. Being strategically conscious of these business relationships is stress-free. This process takes everyone’s total involvement. When small businesses place value creation as a high priority, prospecting for winning customers is a lot easier and more beneficial in the long run.

Please share your comments on this topic.

 

© 2019 by D. D. Green

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Growing Your Small Business With Fiverr.com: Tapping into the Gig Economy

Bringing in a New Year creates a sense of renewal and opportunities. Yet, many small businesses have a ‘wait and see’ attitude riddled by uncertainty and unpredictability of the future. Most organizations have limited resources and must be cautious about their business growth. If you own a small business, what could you do with an extra stack of cash in your pocket by reducing your expenses while improving the quality of your goods and services? Over the last few years, I have been researching the freelance market in order to assist small businesses with the resource deficiencies that most organizations face.

With uncertainty in the market and competition at a peak, most organizations should rethink their business strategies. December’s outlook was not entirely positive. The fourth-quarter marked the worst start for stocks in 10 years. Many experts are skeptical about the economy for several reasons including: failure of popular tech stocks and the fallout from the trade fight between the U.S. and China. There is a weakening global economy that is wreaking havoc to U.S. companies. According to the Commerce Department in December, U.S. factory outputs were showing signs of slowing down. All of these realities demonstrate that businesses are not safe by maintaining the status quo. Things are changing… like it or not. One of the glaring trends was a search globally for talent. While Fortune 500 Companies have the financial strength for this international initiative, most small businesses could not do this… until now.  In this discussion, we examine how today’s small businesses can leverage the power of the gig economy to secure great freelance talent to maximize their performance. Continue reading

Strategic Leaders for Disruptive Changes in 2019

Are you ready for changes in 2019?  If you are like most organizations, the answer is probably ‘no.’  Yet, today’s challenges require a different approach. In fact, businesses fight to survive in severe economic conditions. Shareholders replace CEOs like they change defective light bulbs. It is frequent and unpredictable.  In hopes of salvaging the latest struggling organization, executives usually implement quick solutions by cutting costs (which translates to mean people) and attempting to stop the hemorrhaging through technology. Yet, can today’s managers continue to do the same things and expect different results?  

Sadly, some managers foolishly rely solely on their experience to read market changes. Yet, the current market isn’t like the past! In many situations, managers are equipped to deal with the predictable.  Change that is either planned or incremental is addressed with a risk management approach. However, disruptive change is the hallmark of today’s markets. Disruptive change is sudden and unpredictable. Therefore, experience becomes a liability, not an asset. Organizations, using the old mode of operations, find themselves vulnerable. Established institutions fail. Unknown companies emerge to dominate new sectors. Clayton Christensen, author of Innovative Dilemma, attributes this phenomenon to disruptive innovation.  Therefore, survival depends on understanding the current markets and future trends.

 

Most organizations need strategic leaders to oversee disruptive changes. Strategic thinking represents a different solution for contemporary managers. Strategic thinking is more than careful planning of the organization’s work. Strategic thinking consists of two components, which are knowledge about the present and foresight about the future. Charles Handy, author of The Age of Unreason, argues “Discontinuous change requires discontinuous thinking. If the new way of doing things is going to be different from the old, not just an improvement on it, then we shall need to look at everything in a new way.”  Watt Wacker, Jim Taylor, and Howard Means, leadership gurus, suggest a visionary leader with the capacity of ‘living in the present’ while ‘living in the future.” Therefore, duality becomes a critical attribute of exemplary leaders in disruptive environments.

In summary, disruptive change is creating problems for most traditional organizations. Strategic leaders are needed.  Clearly, strategic thinking is different than routine planning of an organization. Unfortunately, some managers are unaware how this process can assist them in being competitive. Since contemporary organizations can no longer use outdated methods and cookie cutter solutions in this disruptive environment, managers must reexamine their operations. In fact, leaders must be flexible to sudden market changes. Therefore, effective organizations go beyond detailed planning to strategic thinking.

Please share your ideas on this topic.

 

Retooling Ethical Behavior With Agrarian Leadership

Summary: Examine the concept of agrarian leadership in today’s society. Dr. Green shares how to infuse ethical behavior in the workplace with a different type of leadership. 

We live in a digital economy. Technology and innovation continue to improve our wants and desires. Like the Great Roman Empire, the moral decay in our society will slowly eat us from the inside out. In order to improve leaders’ value systems, we need to regain the values of agrarian society. Leadership expert Vana Prewitt argues that the current leadership theories are based on modernist assumptions and are out of date with leading today’s postmodern organizations. Given this dilemma, I advocate for a different kind of 21st leadership.

Today’s leaders need a fresh and authentic outlook, which is morally sound. In fact, a leader’s vision must be deeply rooted. Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, and David Buchanan, authors of Managing Organizational Change explain, “Visions are thus linked to strategy and competitive advantage, enhancing organizational performance and sustaining growth… A lack of vision, on the other hand, is associated with organizational decline and failure.” Let’s look at Agrarian leadership. Agrarian leadership is defined as a contextual influence that has an impact on subordinates’ attitudes and performance by leaders who are both value and results driven. Agrarian leaders view their followers as critical parts of the socio-technical system. Therefore, technology does not drive the value system of society.

Before the Industrial Revolution, life was centered on land and labor. Life was simple for the leader in the agrarian society. Rural living revolved around the land; owning it was equivalent to self-sufficiency and liberty. Although Americans lived in a tribal structure prior to the Agrarian Era (1650-1849), farming communities operated in a decentralized economy.

Agrarians exercised a strong spirituality and a deep respect for the environment. There was a genuine concern for neighbors and co-workers. Being a leader was a major responsibility. In fact, farmers were like heroes because of their hard work, contributions to society, independence, and moral standards. A man’s word meant something. With the transition from an agrarian to industrial society, untainted leadership was lost.

The Industry Revolution meant major changes to the American way of life. Before that period, over 90% of Americans lived rurally. Farmers influenced society. Between 1870 and 1900, rural areas doubled and the urban regions tripled. Farmers were cautious about these societal changes.

Industrial managers faced challenges, such as generating new efficiencies while expanding operations. Chaos theory was in effect because those managers couldn’t control these organizational changes (both inside and outside). Factory managers lacked a process to motivate the unskilled (former agrarian) workforce. This era created new advances and new problems.

The Industrial Revolution forever changed agrarian society, primarily due to market economy and technology. Farmers were less self-sufficient and became “economic market” slaves. This created a conflict because farmers and industrial society had different values. Farming became more productive, but fewer farmers were needed.

As a result of these advances, farmers lost their independence, family focus, and societal influence on moral conduct. For example, some managers found factory workers breaking equipment. Consequently, managers tried to institute positive and negative rewards; these managers used conventional wisdom: “the hungriest man makes the best worker.” Once again, humanity was moving away from his calling—the land.

Therefore, advances in technology do not always equate to a better society. Many techno advocates would argue that technology has provided superior virtues. I beg to differ. First, technology doesn’t automatically improve society. In over 50 years, America has gone from rural to city and from national to international markets. Richard Critchfield, author of Trees, Why Do You Wait: America’s Changing Rural Culture, argues that these advancements have weakened our core values, such as family tradition and work ethic.

Secondly, the disintegration of the agrarian code has destroyed our moral stability. Osha Davidson, the author of Broken Heartlands, suggests that technology and the economic prestige of the agricultural system brought a host of social ills, such as poverty, depopulation, and soil erosion.

In closing, we may consider agrarian lifestyle primitive. However, agrarian values shouldn’t be forgotten as good leadership attributes. We continue to advance technology rapidly while the values of society continue to disintegrate with each innovation. In society, many leaders exhibit unethical conduct, pursuing wealth. Throughout American history, we see the consequences. Let’s pray it’s not too late for agrarian leadership.

Please discuss agrarian leadership as it relates to a changing world.

10 Steps To Spot Unethical Leaders

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Have you seen the number of scandals in today’s organizations?  Government! Business! Non-profit organizations! Religious entities! No institution is exempted.  But—followers of these organizations deserve better!

Sadly, many employees chuckle at their bosses when they lecture them about ethical behavior in their organizations (typically because their management is not…ethical).  With the continual unethical behavior patterns of several leaders, today’s workers are more cynical about their leaders than ever.  In today’s discussion, we will evaluate how to spot unethical leaders in organizations. Continue reading

Retiring Early: Planning Out Your Exit Strategy

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“I was ready! In my early 40s, I started thinking about retiring early. I sat through my organization’s mid-career retirement classes and had gotten several retirement estimates (i.e., different retirement years). I had kept myself marketable by continuing to take advantage of career opportunities and obtaining additional education in my professional field. Some co-workers mocked me because they said any scholarly education would not advance my career.

Yet, I felt that professional growth and a continual learning mindset would only increase my value in the market. I had developed an exit strategy. Working with my friend (Dr. Gary Roberts), I had mapped out a future purpose in academia. I could fully utilize my professional experience while at the same time applying my other skill sets. However, things did not work out as planned. The time and opportunities did not align with my plans. In fact, it took 9 years and more than 200 job applications for the exit strategy to work. Because I was patient and adaptable, God opened up a door, which was much better than my initial plan. Having an exit strategy was invaluable!” 

Are you happy with your current job? In general, US employees are satisfied with their work life. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, about half (49%) of American workers say they are very satisfied with their current job. Yet, 30% of them are somewhat satisfied, and the remainder says they are slightly dissatisfied (9%) or very dissatisfied (6%). Continue reading

Good Content in a Digital World

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With this quick pace of technology and increasing access to information, the world is a land of opportunities for those who have the knowledge. An individual in the 21st century has the opportunities to influence millions of people across the globe. Unfortunately, many do not know how to do it. With the rapid fire of social media interaction and engagement, businesses need to know how to write great content in order to sustain success. The internet has made it necessary for online platforms to keep fresh content or customers will eventually dismiss them from relevancy. You don’t think content matters? Below are some digital statistics to observe:

• 92% of online consumers don’t intend to buy during a first visit
• Nearly half of consumers won’t spend time with branded content if it’s not relevant to their interests
• 46% of marketers say photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies
• 88% of consumers say that, personally, relevant content improves how they feel about a brand
• 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading their custom content

With that said, customers will not come to your website or your social platforms if your content (i.e., articles, videos, or podcasts) aren’t any good. Therefore, individuals need to be strategic about their content.

Businesses need to write good content that matters to their constituency. With that said, organizations should think in the best interest of its target audience. When I wrote my first book My Cup Runneth Over: Setting Goals for Single Parents and Working Couples, my goal was to assist working families with the issues of how to balance work and family. I had a lot of experience with this subject being a working parent.

I wrote lots of content on this subject and got plenty of attention from the media. People were amazed at my publishing accomplishments. It changed my life. I was asked to speak at events. Co-workers wanted my advice. The audience wanted to listen to my messages. Since that time, I have given insights to thousands of people.

This new market success was due primarily because my content was focused on a critical problem that appealed to a specific group of people. In fact, becoming an author is one of the quickest ways to be recognized as an expert in a field or industry. Sadly, many businesses undervalue a well-written piece.

Content marketing allows businesses to develop content relevant to their audience. Content marketing can be defined as “a form of non-traditional marketing communications whereby a brand produces or designs contents in various forms (e.g., text, images, video, audio) and disseminates that content to targeted audiences or customers.”

Today’s marketers understand that good content is essential for their brand awareness and market sustainability. In fact, marketers like to utilize content marketing in social media platforms for the following reasons: (a) High level of control over content design; (b) Low cost of content dissemination; (c) Increased opportunities for audience interactivity and engagement; and (d) Increased opportunities for real-time feedback.

Jeff Larson and Stuart Draper, authors of Digital Marketing Essentials, argue that customers do take notice of content on organizations’ websites. They explain, “For good or ill, consumers are talking online about companies’ brands. Online review sites, directories, social media sites, Wikipedia, blogs, and forums all allow users to express their opinions about a brand… This content can appear in so many places online that it is impossible to monitor this conversation by visiting each site and sifting through the billions of comments left by web users.”

Given the high risk of failure, businesses should not be careless in creating content for their customers. If individuals do not have the talent nor the foresight for developing content, they should consider to just contract this talent out. Even when businesses have the necessary skill set, they must make sure their content is effective and efficient.

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In the book Digital Minds: 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing, the authors stress the importance of good content: “Customers are online and looking for products, services, and solutions to their problems. It’s up to you to grab customers first (and make no mistake – the competition from other companies trying to do just that is huge.” The authors offer the following steps to create great content for customers:

• Focus on your specific target audience.
• Solve the problems that your customers care about.
• Become a trusted source to address their problems.
• Write fresh content.
• Make it easy for them to shop with you.

With the high stakes for today’s businesses, organizations can stand out in the crowd with good content on all of their social media platforms. Adding content marketing into a seller’s arsenal of marketing tools can provide relevant, useful content to customers. This article demonstrated that good content is essential in a digital world.

Today’s marketers are constantly developing content to meet the needs of their constituents. If companies do not take the development of good content seriously, they will not be able to compete with a more demanding and engaged customer base. Pray that it is not too late.

© 2018 by D. D. Green

Wicked Problems for Today’s Leaders

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My wife and I wanted to get a motion detector in our backyard. We had a backlight on the house already. The house was a new construction. The motion detector would be additional security. We estimated the price to be under $200.

When the electrician arrived, he talked with us about our needs and did a thorough inspection of the home. He came back with an estimate of over $600. He rationalized this price due to the configuration of our home and the difficulty of wiring this fixture.

My wife and I both wanted this motion detector. However, we were unwilling to pay the price for this addition. Thus, we needed to redefined the problem. We wanted this motion detector as extra security for the home. We asked the electrician what it would cost to change out the light fixture. He mentioned less than $80. The motion detector was about $50. By redefining or refocusing the problem, we were able to carryout a better solution. 

In search of more lucrative markets, today’s companies are looking for more opportunities across the globe. The United States is a land where dreams come true. Individuals from across the globe come to this country for possible opportunities. Yet, companies fail every day in the marketplace.

According to one study, the failure rate for new startups is about 46%. Botch understanding of your business competencies and market opportunities may put to be fatal. On the contrary, businesses that provide value to customers by solving their pressing problems are rewarded.

By solving someone’s challenging problems, individuals are compensated very well. Thus, solving ‘wicked problems’ could yield greater rewards.  In this session, we will discuss the concepts of wicked problems and introduces how organizations can solve them with effective leaders who provide a burst of innovative thinking.

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Know Your Worth: Compensation Negotiation

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As I contemplated my next career move, I knew it was important to know my worth in the market. In a sense, the concept was foreign to me since I had worked 27 years in engineering for the public sector. In securing that job, the only thing that was negotiated was the time of employment.

My desire to have a second career outside of engineering into academia drove me to get meaningful experience as an adjunct professor. Of course, I felt my core competencies were strong as a professor. I had about ten years in academics working part-time. Yet, I also knew that obtaining a full-time tenure track would be highly competitive due to the limited amount of these treasured positions and the number of applicants. 

I personally knew of qualified business professors who could not obtain a full-time faculty position. To increase my marketability, I continued to secure new skill sets and to follow market trends. One of the biggest trends working for me was that many institutions were looking for new faculty who had demonstrated working experience.

Yet, in order to determine my worth, I had to actively apply for academic positions and go through the interview process. With every interview, each prospective employer provided me with a missing piece of my market worth. However, I got this insight by being assertive by asking meaningful questions like “what part of my application package attracted you to me as a candidate.”  

This transparency was contagious. One dean even told me my prospective rank (i.e. salary) in his organization. All of these pieces were critical in helping me negotiate my final position as a full-time faculty because I understood my worth in the marketplace.

In today’s competitive environment, working professionals need to know their worth so that they can be compensated appropriately and they can market themselves toward better jobs. In fact, professionals need to know how to market themselves and promote their personal brand in order to maintain their market worth. Downsizing and layoffs are a way of life for most U.S. businesses.

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