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Thriving in the Wake of the Great Recession: The Challenges Ahead

Engagement Retention and GrowthAs the nation emerges from one of the longest recessions in recent history, businesses are finding themselves wading through unprecedented waters. The newly emerging economy is experiencing slower than usual growth, high unemployment rates, a struggling global economy, and strapped financial options to boost capital expenditures.

If history repeats itself….

As U.S. businesses move past the recession, a few will roar out of the recession gates while most others will fail, be split up, sold off, or taken over. If history repeats itself, certain business strategies applied during the recession will determine to a large degree a company’s fate. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted a yearlong study and analyzed the strategy selection and performance of corporate America during the past three global recessions. With three recessions over the past 30 years to collect data from, the 1980 crisis (1980 to 1982), the 1990 slowdown (1990 to 1991), and the 2000 bust (2000 to 2002), HBR revealed some startling findings.

Painfully slow recoveries

They analyzed strategies of 4,700 public companies, breaking down the data into three periods: the three years before a recession, the three years after, and the recession years themselves. HBR consistently found that seventeen percent of the companies in the study didn’t survive a recession: They went bankrupt, were acquired, or became private. The survivors were slow to recover from the battering as well. As a matter of fact, about 80% of them had not yet regained their pre-recession growth rates for sales and profits three years after a recession ended.

So as businesses emerge from the latest recession that began in 2007, what significant challenges can we expect they will face? Based on the information gathered from previous recessions, many organizations used strategies such as deep cutbacks and massive layoffs with very little reinvestment back into the company. Now these businesses must contend with these ineffective strategy methods if they are to thrive. Here are some of the challenges businesses, large and small, now face that must be corrected in order to survive:

  1. Business Infidelity – Customers, employees, partners, and vendors can be fickle when it comes to loyalty if there is a lack of connection or commitment within the organization. When a stakeholder reaches this level of disconnect, a business is subjective to “Business Infidelity.” Literally, a business will lose clients, employees, partners, and vendors to the first competitor with the best marketing that reflects the needs of the consumer, collaborator, or investor.
  2. Social Media Soapbox – In this new social society, where customers, workforce, and prospective employees all have instant access to their own personal social media megaphone, companies are struggling to control their corporate image. They fear disgruntled employees whose public rantings are picked up by the press.  Business leaders are frustrated and confused by social media and tired of trying to contain and restrain employee engagement. Holding them back isn’t working. Yet how do you let them loose without sabotaging the efforts of marketing and PR?
  3. Communication Malfunctions – Along with judging, lack of trust, and lack of respect, communication failures are a leading cause of team malfunction.  Some teams never make it out of the storming phase, while others do not want to go through it at all and want to skip it.  A common frustration is a feeling of teams not performing to their potential
  4. Mismanaged Human Performance – It is staggering to read the research today on how much it costs a company when a top performer terminates their employment.  There are ranges from 1.5 times the employee’s salary up to $7,000 a day… for each day a top performer is missing.  Team leaders have mismanaged how to improve employee personal performance, team performance, and to how to identify people with greater performance potential.
  5. “Hiring to Fill” Quick Fix – As companies scramble to fill positions of employees that were laid and retained employees now handing in their resignation, they find themselves in the quandary of “filling vacant seats.”  Qualities, beliefs, ethical values, and behaviors have to be identified and quantified if the hiring process is to be successful. Leave any one area out of the equation and you have the potential for a ‘bad hire” which is a “costly hire.”
  6. Not Recognizing Every Employee is a Salesperson – There is a simple business formula:  No sales = No profits = No money = No business.  The ability to learn and then teach the art of handling objections can literally double or triple your profits within a year. Without this skill, you’ve lost the sale and relationship.  
  7. Can’t Regroup Fast Enough to Retain Valuable Employees – The first challenge is to capture the emotional commitment of the key leaders. The second is to engage the rest of the employees to champion change and communicating their efforts though inspiring stories. The problem with surviving a recession that has lasted five years or more depends on whether companies are able to regroup in time without losing talented employees and the lion share of their business to more agile and progressive competitors.
  8. Lack of strategies for Unexpected Changes -The best designed project matrices, timelines, vision statements, goals, and objectives can be left suspended or upended when leaders or employees experience personal changes or changes from the outside the company.  Unexpected changes are a part of life, and create less impact on a company when there are strategies in place to address these issues.

This is the first part of a three-part series blog on Thriving in the Wake of the Great Recession. Next week’s blog will move beyond the challenges faced after the recession to finding “A Way Through” with employee championed change and more. Join Debra, Dianne and other industry thought leaders for a break through Training Summit coming December 2012 that discusses challenges with actionable take-aways, for leaders, managers and employees to emerge from the recession stronger than before. At The Expert Marketing Coach and CoreValues we know there are terrific possibilities that await each business if they are to roar out of this recession.

How to Write Your Own Social Media Policy

Are you a rapidly growing business that is looking to create a social media policy with regards to how employees represent your company publicly on social media? Or perhaps you are just hiring your first marketing assistant and want to put some simple communication guidelines in place.

Well, now you are in luck!

The folks over at Xtraction created a social media policy tool that helps you build a social media policy for your business. Whether you have a small business or medium size, this tool can help you create your own social media policy. The policy below is one I created using the tool. It's actually more complex than mine really needs to be. but since i was testing i wanted to see how it handled all the complications. It's likely your policy will be more simple than this one. Here's a link to the tool to try it out… http://socialmedia.policytool.net/

The Expert Marketing Coach Social Media Policy

 

This policy governs the publication of and commentary on social media by employees of The Expert Marketing Coach, LLC and its related companies ("The Expert Marketing Coach"). For the purposes of this policy, social media means any facility for online publication and commentary, including without limitation blogs, wiki's, social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. This policy is in addition to and complements any existing or future policies regarding the use of technology, computers, e-mail and the internet.

The Expert Marketing Coach employees who are non-salaried are not allowed to publish or comment via social media in any way during work hours or using work facilities, or in any way that suggests they are doing so in connection with The Expert Marketing Coach. The Expert Marketing Coach employees who are salaried are free to publish or comment via social media in accordance with this policy. Such employees are subject to this policy to the extent they identify themselves as a The Expert Marketing Coach employee (other than as an incidental mention of place of employment in a personal social media on topics unrelated to The Expert Marketing Coach).

Before engaging in work related social media, employees must obtain the permission of the Public Relations Director.

Notwithstanding the previous section, this policy applies to all uses of social media, including personal, by The Expert Marketing Coach employees who are executives, as their position with The Expert Marketing Coach would be well known within the community.

Publication and commentary on social media carries similar obligations to any other kind of publication or commentary.

All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that The Expert Marketing Coach employees must otherwise follow.

Setting up Social Media

Assistance in setting up social media accounts and their settings can be obtained from The Expert Marketing Coach's Director of IT.

Social media identities, logon ID's and user names may not use The Expert Marketing Coach's name without prior approval from the Director of PR.

Your profile on social media sites must be consistent with your profile on the The Expert Marketing Coach website or other The Expert Marketing Coach publications. Profile information may be obtained from the Director of PR.

Official The Expert Marketing Coach photographs must be used for your profile photograph. The Expert Marketing Coach photographs can be obtained from Director of PR.

Don't Tell Secrets

It's perfectly acceptable to talk about your work and have a dialog with the community, but it's not okay to publish confidential information. Confidential information includes things such as unpublished details about our software, details of current projects, future product ship dates, financial information, research, and trade secrets. We must respect the wishes of our corporate customers regarding the confidentiality of current projects. We must also be mindful of the competitiveness of our industry.

Protect your own privacy

Privacy settings on social media platforms should be set to allow anyone to see profile information similar to what would be on the The Expert Marketing Coach website. Other privacy settings that might allow others to post information or see information that is personal should be set to limit access. Be mindful of posting information that you would not want the public to see.

Be Honest

Do not blog anonymously, using pseudonyms or false screen names. We believe in transparency and honesty. Use your real name, be clear who you are, and identify that you work for The Expert Marketing Coach. Nothing gains you notice in social media more than honesty – or dishonesty. Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, point it out. But also be smart about protecting yourself and your privacy. What you publish will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully and also be cautious about disclosing personal details.

Respect copyright laws

It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others, including The Expert Marketing Coach own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else's work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good general practice to link to others' work rather than reproduce it.

Respect your audience, The Expert Marketing Coach, and your coworkers

The public in general, and The Expert Marketing Coach's employees and customers, reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don't say anything contradictory or in conflict with the The Expert Marketing Coach website. Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive comments, defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics and religion. Use your best judgment and be sure to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and do not represent the official views of The Expert Marketing Coach.

Protect The Expert Marketing Coach customers, business partners and suppliers

Customers, partners or suppliers should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. Never identify a customer, partner or supplier by name without permission and never discuss confidential details of a customer engagement. It is acceptable to discuss general details about kinds of projects and to use non-identifying pseudonyms for a customer (e.g., Customer 123) so long as the information provided does not violate any non-disclosure agreements that may be in place with the customer or make it easy for someone to identify the customer. Your blog is not the place to "conduct business" with a customer.

Controversial Issues

If you see misrepresentations made about The Expert Marketing Coach in the media, you may point that out. Always do so with respect and with the facts. If you speak about others, make sure what you say is factual and that it does not disparage that party. Avoid arguments. Brawls may earn traffic, but nobody wins in the end. Don't try to settle scores or goad competitors or others into inflammatory debates. Make sure what you are saying is factually correct.

Be the first to respond to your own mistakes

If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so. If someone accuses you of posting something improper (such as their copyrighted material or a defamatory comment about them), deal with it quickly – better to remove it immediately to lessen the possibility of a legal action.

Think About Consequences

For example, consider what might happen if a The Expert Marketing Coach employee is in a meeting with a customer or prospect, and someone on the customer's side pulls out a print-out of your blog and says "This person at The Expert Marketing Coach says that product sucks."

Saying "Product X needs to have an easier learning curve for the first-time user" is fine; saying "Product X sucks" is risky, unsubtle and amateurish.

Once again, it's all about judgment: using your blog to trash or embarrass The Expert Marketing Coach, our customers, or your co-workers, is dangerous and ill-advised.

Disclaimers

Many social media users include a prominent disclaimer saying who they work for, but that they're not speaking officially. This is good practice and is encouraged, but don't count on it to avoid trouble – it may not have much legal effect.

Wherever practical, you must use a disclaimer saying that while you work for The Expert Marketing Coach, anything you publish is your personal opinion, and not necessarily the opinions of The Expert Marketing Coach.

The Legal Dept. can provide you with applicable disclaimer language and assist with determining where and how to use that.

Don't forget your day job.

Make sure that blogging does not interfere with your job or commitments to customers.

Social Media Tips

The following tips are not mandatory, but will contribute to successful use of social media.

The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know. There is a good chance of being embarrassed by a real expert, or of being boring if you write about topics you are not knowledgeable about.

Quality matters. Use a spell-checker. If you're not design-oriented, ask someone who is whether your blog looks decent, and take their advice on how to improve it.

The speed of being able to publish your thoughts is both a great feature and a great downfall of social media. The time to edit or reflect must be self-imposed. If in doubt over a post, or if something does not feel right, either let it sit and look at it again before publishing it, or ask someone else to look at it first.

Enforcement

Policy violations will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for cause.

Would you like a little more guidance?

The folks over at Social Media Governance has a directory of over 200 social media policies you can look at for guidance. (http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php)

And, this article from Inc. Magazine gives you elements to consider using in your social media policy, many of which are included in the free tool offered at policytool.net.

I also like this social media policy Infographic, which provides a more visual approach to writing your social media policy.

Source: mindflash.com via Debra on Pinterest

 

What resources have you used or recommend for someone wanting to write their first social media policy?

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