Tag Archives: Business Tips

Quick-fix Layoffs Strategy Could Hinder Long-Term Economic Recovery

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

Companies relying on short-term measures to deal with current economic conditions, such as cost-cutting by way of layoffs for a potential increase in return-on-assets, risk long-term decline, according to Deloitte’s 2011 Shift Index, released today by the Center for the Edge. In fact, the Index reveals that corporate economic performance in the United States has been declining over time as even the highest-performing companies struggle to maintain strong ROA rates while increasingly losing market leadership positions.

ROA is an indicator of management’s efficiency at using assets to generate earnings. It is calculated by dividing a company’s annual earnings by total assets. Despite labor productivity gains of nearly 250 percent, Deloitte’s study finds that public companies in the United States have experienced a 75 percent drop in ROA over the last 40 years.  The negative ROA trend is playing out across virtually all industries tracked in the Shift Index, suggesting a long term decline caused by deep structural changes.  If companies remain too focused on the current economic conditions and the implementation of short-term solutions such as layoffs, they can be vulnerable to even greater competitive challenges in the long run.

“A profound structural issue weighing on our economy began well before the current economic downturn and likely will continue for the foreseeable future unless business leaders address the underlying challenges,” said John Hagel, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-chairman, Center for the Edge. “In this recessionary period, companies risk making decisions, such as layoffs, traditionally seen as prudent quick fixes that instead weaken their workforces and disrupt the flow of important knowledge, leaving them highly vulnerable amid intensifying global competition.”

According to the Shift Index, a more effective approach for companies may lie in shifting their view of employees from cost items to be cut as pressure mounts to a powerful form of asset capable of delivering greater and greater value over time. Companies that invest in their workforces under tough economic conditions may be able to drive greater returns during periods of recovery.

The Impact of the Super-Empowered Individual

Deloitte’s report indicates that super-empowered individuals are driving companies to be more transparent and find new approaches to cultivate brand preference and loyalty among consumers. Technology provides individuals with the power to drive short-term market fluctuations and is allowing them to leverage digital tools to organize in ways that previously were not possible. The Consumer Power survey (the basis of one of the Shift Index metrics) finds that 49 percent of consumers strongly agree they have more information about brands and products than ever before thanks to the Internet and social media tools. As a result, consumers wield greater power via social networks and sharing information in real-time. The survey also found that consumers trust businesses less often and seek out information via alternate sources rather than “buying in” to traditional advertising, manifesting in greater brand disloyalty.

Companies have the opportunity to use these same digital tools to draw new consumers to their offerings.  According to Deloitte’s analysis, social software also can be used within companies to cultivate a passionate workforce and tap into critical knowledge flows at all levels in order to reverse declining performance.

“Super-empowered individuals and passionate workers connect with like-minded people through social media to advance dialogue, learn and collaborate,” said Hagel. “Organizations should tap into both when seeking champions for a particular cause or product.”

Tapping the Passion of an Aging Workforce

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The U.S. labor force is projected to reach 166.9 million by 2018;

This represents an 8.2 percent increase from 2008, with an increasing proportion of older workers;

Workers aged 55 years and older are anticipated to leap from 18.1 percent to 23.9 percent of the labor force during the same period.(1)

As the workforce ages companies should consider how to engage workers of all ages and enable them to tap into diverse knowledge flows to deepen their experience and allow for increased collaboration. The 2011 Shift Index suggests that fostering effective participation among workers of all ages can be a key driver of performance improvement as companies draw upon the deepest set of knowledge and skills.

“The ability to ignite and sustain the passion of older workers is becoming more and more important as the labor force ages. Organizations should explore options to retain retiring employees as advisors within the company,” said Hagel. “Passionate older workers could be assigned roles where they can focus their energies on taking on performance challenges that have a measurable effect on a company. They often have well developed networks of relationships both within and across companies that can be very helpful in sustaining more robust flows of knowledge, accelerate learning and improve performance.”

(1) United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition

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More Social Media Marketing Tips

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

Social Media Marketing is a style of online marketing that enables businesses of all sizes to get the word out about their product or service, as well as boost brand awareness, build loyalty, and attract and retain customers. You want to use Social Media Marketing to increase your visibility, improve your search engine results, and drive more traffic to your company’s website.

Without a doubt, Social Media Marketing has become a crucial element of successful online marketing and brand building. All content that adds value and markets a business, directly or indirectly, can be considered a form of Social Media Marketing. The material can be distributed in long form (blogs, articles, and eBooks), short form (Twitter updates, Facebook updates and images), or through conversations and sharing (start or join Twitter conversations or share content in a forum comment). Social Media Marketing allows you to build lasting connections with influential customers who in turn share your content and your message.

Here are some more easy ways to integrate your Social Media Marketing efforts and surround consumers with branded experiences:

•   Always include social media icons in your blog’s sidebar.

•   Provide links to your branded online sites in your email signature.

•   Place your branded online destination links in your forum signatures.

•   Add links to your online content in the comment forms whenever you publish comments on blogs.

•   Always put links to your content in your ads.

•   Include links to your content on your business cards.

•   Insert links to your content in your email newsletter.

•   Incorporate links to your content on your sales receipts.

•   Include Facebook social plugins on your blog or Web site from Facebook’ Developer suite.

•   Include Twitter widgets from the Twitter Resources section of Twitter.com on your blog or Web site and other points of entry.

•   Add your YouTube videos on your Facebook page and profile.

•   Feed your blog content to your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, your Facebook page, and any other social networking portals where you have a profile.

•   Share your blog’s content in LinkedIn groups that pertain to your niche.

•   Use the SlideShare app to display your business presentations on Facebook and LinkedIn.

•   Include links to your blog in your online profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Social Networking Portals.

•   The bio you include in guests posts for other people’s blogs should include links to your online content and destinations.

•   Include LinkedIn plugins from the LinkedIn Developers Community on your blog and Web site.

•   Include the URLs to your online content in brochures and other marketing materials.

•   Always list the URLs of your online content in your store or event signage.

•    Feed your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook updates to your company’s blog.

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Google+ Tips for Businesses

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

If you are an entrepreneur, you know that Social Media plays a big part in marketing your business. Google+ has now opened itself to the public, but it is asking businesses to hold off on creating profiles until the search engine giant has released an upcoming set of features that will better support businesses. In the meantime, there are a few things you can try out with your personal accounts in order to get your feet wet and prepare your business for the eventual rollout:

Use Your Business’ Actual Name

No matter what, you’re going to want to stick with your businesses’ actual name when you create your Google+ page. Although you may want to acquire pages that have keywords that are related to your niche, this technique will likely be against Google+’s future policy. Just concentrate on making your Google+ business page your business’ home away from home, and a back link for search engine optimization.

Add Information to Your Pop-Up Window

You may have noticed that a pop-up window appears when you hover over your profile picture with your mouse. This window is an area that enables you to add information about your business, so be sure to fill it out.

Use Circles for Privacy & Security

Due to the Google+ sorting strategy, social connections through the portal are a bit more efficient than Facebook. Circles enable Google+ users to organize their connections into groups such as Family, Friends, and Work Colleagues, in order for users to decide which circles get access to which posts. Users can create a circle for any type of group they want and connect with whomever they want, including people outside of their normal group. This makes it much easier to control that has access to what information.

Use Private Posts for Brainstorming

Just like a blog, you can use Google+ to brainstorm posts without all your followers reading a work in progress, as Google+ offers the users the ability to disable sharing on posts. If you have posted something that you would like to keep private for now, click on the drop down menu are at the top right of the post and select “disable reshare.” This will also disable the “+mentions” in the comments of your post, even if you want to mention another Google+ user who has commented before you disabled the reshare.

Use Hangouts for Video Conferences

You may not have realized it, but Goggle+’s built-in multiple user video chat tool can also double as a conferencing platform. Instead of contacting people and then triggering a conversation on the phone or on Skype, you hang out in a room that displays you via camera stream. If no one is available to chat, you simply let the application run in the background while you continue your work.

Integrate your Other Apps

Finally, when your business is invited to have it’s own Google+ profile, you should integrate your other Google applications with it, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar.

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10 Key Marketing Techniques for SMBs

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

Small business owners are notorious for ignoring marketing efforts. But if you are not spending time and money to market your business, then you are ignoring a critical success component. You need to invest at least 10 – 20% of your time in marketing. You may feel concerned about losing revenue if you do this, but revenues will increase as you invest more of your time and resources into your plan.  Here are some guidelines and ideas to get you started:

Create a Marketing Plan

First, document what marketing techniques you’ve successfully used in the past and expand on them, creating variations on your techniques. Then plot the time it takes to execute those techniques on a calendar, creating a marketing plan. A simple marketing plan always includes a list of marketing practices and a timeline.

Face-to-Face Networking

Most SMBS will benefit by creating relationships off-line regardless of the type of business you run. To meet like-minded people go to classes, lectures and other events that interest you. Keep your eyes and ears open at the grocery store, coffee house and other local establishments. Look into your local Chamber of Commerce and networking groups to see if those are up your alley as well.

Cold Calling

Buy a list or hire a college student, bring on an intern, or have an assistant compile a list for you. Begin by writing a script and giving intention to your call. Know what you wish to achieve; a face-to-face visit, permission to send information, to close the sale or send a free sample.

Telemarketing

If cold calling on your own is not an option, consider hiring a professional telemarketing firm.  A few hours a week can garner one or two solid leads for you. Depending on your business, this is a simple and sure way to increase revenues.

Social Media

Use Social Media to ask questions, express interest, get to know people.

Podcasting

Having your own podcast puts you in the position of the “expert’ and also helps you to expand your horizons. Promote your show via social media, your list,iTunes, in your blog and via your guests’ lists. Create special offers to bring traffic to your site and to build your list.

Guest blogging and inviting guest bloggers

If you are not blogging yet, do. This again, is a long term investment – you probably won’t see results right away, but they will come. Comment on other blogs and contact popular bloggers who also target your audience with ideas for their blog, offering to write for them.  You will gain subscribers and expand your audience. After you build your following invite popular bloggers to do a guest post on your blog. They will bring followers, many of whom will stay.

Follow up with your list and past clients

There is plenty of untapped business with existing customers, past clients and prospects. What can you upsell? What special offers can you promote? How can you recreate yourself or your product to spark new interest?

Ask for referrals

If you recruit the assistance of your clients your practice will grow. Supply them with materials to forward or hand to their friends and family. Make it easy for people to spread the word about you.

Consistent Messaging

It may take time for your marketing efforts to have an impact and prompt a significant response. We all have different “buy’ triggers and have to be in the right place emotionally and financially before we buy. Market frequently and be consistent in your key message.

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Key Salary Negotiation Tips

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

It’s true that the negotiation for a better salary package is always a challenging endeavor. But it’s a challenge that everyone need to face if they are going to be able to afford the inflated cost of maintaining a lifestyle. Fortunately, a salary negotiation strategy requires that you only need to pay attention to some key concepts. Here are the key negotiation tips that you should keep in mind.

Focus on Criteria

You will have a far easier time persuading someone to agree with you for more compensation if they see that your proposal is based on objective criteria. For example, you could focus on what similar firms pay people of like experience or what other employees in your company make.

Be Persuasive with Proof

Every raise requires a reason, and you’re the person that has to provide that reason, in the form of your performance at work. First, take a step back and recollect your performance over the past year, and note how your work performance and helped your company’s bottom line.

Outline the Complete Package

The new compensation package that you are interested in should outline more that just your salary. You should also consider profit sharing, a bonus, stock options that should vest immediately, more responsibly, a faster promotional track, and increased vacation hours and flexibility.

Draft Multiple Options

In case you cannot persuade your boss to say yes, you need to have a backup plan. Part of preparation is creating a specific action plan so you know what you’ll do if you have to walk away from the table. When you work out your desired package, try to draft a few versions that will cover both your needs and your employer’s. Multiple Options will provide you with more probability for a successful negotiation.

Aim High, but be Realistic

When you decide on a figure to ask for, start with a number that would be a dream come true, then ratchet the figure down according to your line of work and the industry that you work in.

Anticipate you Employer’s Concerns

In order for your raise to get the green light, all of your employer’s concerns will need to be addressed. Try to workout answers for these concerns prior to your negation interview or performance review.

Double-check your Prep

Take an extra day to review all your prep. For anything specific or difficult that you need to convey, read aloud what you intend to say, practicing in front of a mirror if necessary.

Use the Proper Tone

Never use any coercive tactics, such as a threat or an ultimatum. Always approach your employer as a colleague and a fellow professional when you communicate your interests.\

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