I travel every week, work an average of twelve hours per day, and don’t get nearly enough sleep. Chances are that I remember that I need to call a friend when I’m supposed to be working on a proposal, that I remember about the groceries I need when I’m on a business trip and away from my home and the store, and that I think of a great idea for work during my scarce “free” time. The concepts in David Allen’s Getting Things Done have helped me keep the commitments I make to myself and others without going too crazy in the process. Sometimes, however, I need to remind myself not to get caught up in the system itself and to remember the ideas that really make the system work.
Continue reading “Planning… It’s All in Your Head”
Whether you’re a low-level analyst or a C-Suite executive, everyone has a boss. Even CEO’s have to answer to the board and shareholders, and miscommunication and differing expectations can make interactions difficult, especially during times of crisis. If you find yourself in a situation with an abrasive investor, board member, or boss in the coming days, here are some tips for dealing with them and improving the situation:
Continue reading “How to Deal with Difficult People in Power”
It may seem basic to many of us, but it always surprises me how few people actually do their homework before going into a meeting, let alone launching a product or starting a business. Whether you’re meeting with the CEO of a potential client, planning a launch of a new service, or trying to figure out how to solve an internal process problem, it’s important to have some background and know what you don’t know. That said, here’s The Upwardly Mobile‘s quick and dirty guide to doing your homework:
Continue reading “Homework: It’s Not Just for School Children”
Seth Godin wrote a great little post last Friday on the differences between fitting in and standing out. Although Seth doesn’t state it explicitly, the differences in mind set of those who seek to fit in and those who seek to stand out make up a significant portion of a company’s culture and have startling implications to productivity and the bottom line. Let’s examine three global companies to see the impact of this corporate culture ideal on a firm’s outlook:
Continue reading “Do What Works”
This is an advertisement I saw on CNN.com today. It reads, “Obama is the New President! $133,000 Mortgage for Under $679/Month!” I’m not one for pointing out the obvious, but those two sentences have absolutely nothing to do with each other. In addition to the fact that the ad doesn’t seem to make much sense, it states almost nothing about what the advertiser actually does, with the exception of the ominously vague “Calculate New House Payment” line that appears in tiny font at the bottom of the frame. If you do decide to click on the advertisement, you quickly learn that LowerMyBills.com, an Experian company, will offer you “free” lender matches after filling out a quick, two-minute form. Some of you may remember Experian as a company that recently got in trouble several times for misleading advertising and received a grade of “F” for customer service. What Experian won’t tell you, of course, is that “Britain’s most invasive company” hasn’t changed its practices much in the United States, and that your name, email, and contact information will be sold without regard to your privacy. All of this for something you could get for free by calling a few banks. So why am I telling you this?
Continue reading “Don’t Insult Your Customers, Stupid.”
Examples of firms retreating further into their niche seem to increase with every day of the recession. Most companies will realize too late, however, that they’ve lost the opportunity to expand their scope and increase their revenues by being there for their customers in their time of need. The reality is that being too precise or too general eliminates your opportunity to grow and forces your firm to depend heavily on only its existing clients, many of whom may be looking for ways to cut costs that might include severing relationships with companies like yours. In today’s market, companies don’t need an engineering company any more than they need a consulting firm. What they really need is a company that can offer real value by solving a core business problem, aligning that solution with the firm’s goals, and implementing it in a way that ensures its acceptance by the company’s existing culture.
Continue reading “What’s Your Firm’s Perspective?”
Times are certainly tough for startups these days, but there are a few things you can do help your business brave the storm. Here’s The Upwardly Mobile‘s list of the top five.
Continue reading “Top Five Tips for Getting Your Startup Through Tough Times”
In Sunday’s post, I mentioned that being a Purple Cow is about delivering exceptional value to your customers that exceeds their wildest expectations. It’s also about conveying that value through the kind of marketing that really lets customers know you’re something special.
Take a look at The Engine Is Red. I stumbled across this company when reading an article from my news feed about 8 entrepreneurs who are defying the risk-adverse economic faux-wisdom of the times by starting companies during the recession. Each startup has its own story, and several have very interesting ideas. But despite the fact that The Engine Is Red was, perhaps, the least original concept of the eight, it was the only company that really stood out. One look at the company’s website makes it clear that the firm is not an average design company. Marketing with most firms, the site quips, is like a one night stand; marketing with The Engine Is Red is about solving core business challenges, driving sales, and increasing profits. Red is about creating value.
In short, The Engine is Red is quickly becoming the Little Red Engine That Could.
Spend some time thinking about what your marketing says about you. In a time when most firms–even banks and insurance companies the self-proclaimed giants of experience and reliability–don’t really live up to their names, it’s time to focus on value, not tradition. When potential customers are looking at the herd, is your cow easy to spot?