How Do Organizations Get Better? Reward Simple Behavior

I coach. I’ve coached for a number of years spanning every sport from basketball to baseball and I have to say with utmost confidence that most of my teams have had winning records and most of my players have learned something and have had fun along the way. But…There are always those teams and those players that either don’t get it, didn’t get it,  or don’t want to get it. “It” being the magic that is winning, learning, growing and having fun. Success.

It happens in sports. It also happens in the business world.  I for one love sports and business analogies, so for the sake of this post I’m going to draw some quick parallels between the success of a team and the success of a business, but I’m going to let you connect the dots.

Why do teams do well?

1) Constant communication with everyone. Whether they were the worst player on the team or the best, players need to know that you know them. One on one is critical. Believe it or not, you will have players who think that you don’t care about them, don’t like them, or that you don’t even know who they are, all because you have not talked to them in any capacity one on one.

2) Provide feedback on how they can get better. There’s a reason we all practice every day. It’s so we can get better. But in order to get better, we have to know where we can get better.

3) Put people in a position to succeed. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you see it happen. Give everyone a chance, they will appreciate it and you’ll gain insight from the experience.

4) Reward simple behavior. Sometimes it’s an encouraging word, a pat on the back, a simple thank you, increased playing time or just letting them know that you see that they are trying. But acknowledging to your players that you see them, that you are aware of what they are doing, can sometimes be the catalyst for excellence.

With this simple formula, your teams thrive and there are never any mysteries. In sports and in the business world, things are earned and hard work is rewarded, but employees and players still need to managed and coached. Believe it or not, most coaches(the good ones) see everything. They see who works hard and they also see who does not. But players are also watching the coaches. Coaches are held to standards just as managers should be and thus the same holds true in business. Treat your employees with respect and your organization will reap the benefits.

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We all need another set of eyes

As a business owner, at the end of the day, you’re in business to sell a product or service which means that you may know that product backwards and forwards, but does that mean you know how to market it? Maybe. Does it mean that you know digital marketing/ social media marketing? Does that mean you know e-commerce? Maybe not.

Some SMB’s prefer to do it all. Some can, some can’t. Some try, some fail. Enter the third party.

I’m having a conversation with a friend right at this moment in which he’s saying that the only thing constant in life is change. I agree, especially in social media. His point?  People who run companies cannot do it all. But they try, they struggle, they dabble, and thus think they have it under control. Perhaps everyone needs that extra set of eyes on some aspects of what they do. Business owners need to understand that having  another set of eyes is not necessarily a bad thing. The key is knowing when you need them and swallowing your pride to admit that you need them.

At the end of the day, you need to do what you do best. If you’re a doctor, asking you to market your product was not part of what you learned in medical school.

Social changes every day, so being an expert is a tall task. Being an expert in what you do takes time, takes effort and takes commitment. Can you be an expert in everything that you do in your business? For digital marketers, being connected to your network at least allows you stay abreast of what changes daily in the space. You take what you learn daily everywhere you go. Translation-How can you run your business and being effective with digital marketing? Especially if you’re a click and mortar business.

Beyond  digital and social media and taking a broad lens approach to life, and knowing that we are all in some sort of bubble begs the question. Doesn’t having another set of eyes help you? Well there ya go…

Moving without the ball: On Basketball and Digital Marketing

In the game of basketball there’s something that really can separate the good players from the average players. A lot of  players do not do it and yet they would be better served and more successful if they did do it. It’s fundamental to the game and yet a lot of coaches do not coach it or preach it. I’m not going to tell you what it is yet.

In digital marketing, social media marketing and any type of integrated marketing communications plan, we can create a strategy, design the tactics to use for that strategy and then we can implement. Then we wait. We measure. We tweak and we rework, redesign and we retrench if necessary. But if instead of waiting for things to happen. What if we made things happen? What if we created opportunities for ourselves?

Remember the movie Field of Dreams and the famous line, “If you build it, they will come”? In marketing, especially in the web world, there’s a sense that all we have to do is create a website, add that transactional back-end, create a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, and a blog site-and they will come. When what is really necessary is a lot of OFF page SEO work, a lot of content creation, content curation, and content consumption and commenting. You have to be proactive in this new digital paradigm. You can’t wait for it to happen or you’re done.

Back to the hoops analogy

In basketball, the more you stand around and watch, the less you are part of the action and the game. If you expect to get the ball passed to you on the wing just because you happen to be standing there, well it’s not going to happen. The defender is not fooled and you’re less of a threat because he doesn’t have to worry about you, he can see you. He can literally defend the basket and you at the same time because you’re not doing anything.

If you move without the ball, then you create more opportunities for you to get the ball, to score and to win. If no one moves-you don’t win. Simple as that. In digital, if you want to just build stuff and wait for people to find you-you won’t win. Simple as that.

Why Digital Strategies Fail.

The easy answer on why digital strategies fail is that technology is changing so quickly that once an organization has decided to implement one strategy, it’s time to alter course and develop a new one. And to a certain extent that’s partly true.  It is very difficult to stay ahead of the curve, especially now.

But the real reason a  lot of digital strategies fail isn’t because of a dearth of good ideas or talent, it’s because of 5 things inherent in a lot of organizations. They are in descending order of importance.

5. Turnover coupled with leadership vacuum.

4. Red Tape/Politics/Hidden agendas

3. Lack of belief or Buy in from Leadership

2. Poor planning and Bad execution

1. Culture

I suppose that we could easily expand this discussion to include other aspects of a business that fail instead of  just digital strategies because of the above mentioned bullet points, but these 5 seem to occur moreso than most around aspects of digital.

For example, if we’re to believe the Gartner Hype Cycle, which I do, we’re approximately 2-5 years away from mainstream adoption of social analytics. That’s measuring and monitoring and analyzing the biggest technological and cultuural phenomenon to hit the globe since the internet first came on the scene, and we’re 2-5 years from mainstream adoption. It’s not a technology problem.

It’s tough to stay ahead of the curve when some struggle to just get on the curve. Why is that? Your number one answer? Culture. We have to get out of our own way.

On hardwork, Shorts Cuts and Aggregating in Digital

 

Do you ever hear anyone after a huge win, a major client victory or a momentous occasion within an organization say the following? “Without the short cuts and the corners we cut, we would have never made it…”

In the world of digital, there exists the potential to aggregate your activities and consolidate your digital streams so as not to duplicate work. That’s not really a short cut. THAT is much different than buying followers on Twitter. Additionally, creating an editorial calendar for when you are going to blog and what your topics will be and what the content might be is a lot different than paying someone to load you up with bland, link baited  light on content,articles to fill your blog with.

Furthermore, taking the time to develop a database of customers that you curate and nurture along and turn into brand advocates that you can send targeted emails and Facebook offers and coupons to, does not resemble buying a used, stepped on, non-qualified list of names that you can email blast to without permission.

“Just” throwing up a website pales in comparison to taking the time to find out from your audience what they want and making sure that what you sell or offer online is meeting the needs and expectations of your buyers, customers and prospects. We don’t live in a brochure-ware web world any longer.

Last point. Don’t discount new technologies because you don’t understand them and because you don’t want to take the time to understand them. That’s not hard work. That’s saying, “It’s too hard for me to understand and it probably won’t benefit me…”

You need to know that there are basic steps here in every digital channel that you need to do and do right if you want to be here next year. At every digital juncture you have the potential to make a choice. A short cut or hard work? Believe it or not, your audience knows the difference.

 

The Consistency of Being Inconsistent in Digital

The only constant in life is change-François de la Rochefoucauld

Sometimes I think the toughest part of my job is trying to stay current.  And I’m supposed to be a thought leader? Ha! So if I’m thinking that, what does that mean for you or the CMO, the CTO or the Director of social, or digital marketing or marketing? It means we’re all in the same boat. It means we don’t have a lot of time to learn something, prove something, sell something, justify something and then run it up the food chain to the C-suite and back then back down. What’s more, let’s add the pressure of 3 concrete tenets in the digital space:

  1. Is what you’re doing making the company money?
  2. Is what you’re doing saving the company money?
  3. Is what you’re doing driving or building equity for the company?

If what you’re doing, does not concretely answer in the positive one of the above 3 questions, the clock is ticking. Digital is moving so fast, that it is really hard for a lot of digital leaders, or social media managers to show the results that are required from their C-suite counterparts.

Therefore, the one way to break through the light speed pace of digital is to know these five thnigs.

  1. Anticipate that things will change
  2. Be agile enough to change
  3. Be open to change
  4. Be inclusive
  5. You can’t manage digital if you don’t measure digital-but know what metrics matter.

Some things do remain constant besides change in digital though. It’s up to you to figure out what works for your organization and to build out from there, but always keeping an eye on what’s next. Be agile.

What Can P90X Teach Us About Social Digital Principles?

In case you may be living under a rock and do not know what P90X is, it’s currently the media darling of the fitness world. It’s a fitness program encapsulated on DVD in which it stresses 3 simple core principles into it’s workout regime. The core principles are grounded in intensity, variety and consistency.

So I thought, can we make a correlation between P90X and social? Or marketing either online or offline?

The answer is absolutely. Let’s take a quick look.

First, I did a search on Intensity and pulled these colloquial terms:

All of them make sense, but when I think of intensity in digital/social media marketing, I think of focus.

Next up is Variety, which would seemingly fly in the face of focus, but not necessarily. To me, variety means keeping things fresh, not only from a marketing standpoint but also from the standpoint of giving you and your employees and your customers, a reason to come to work, do the work and buy the work. Variety is a two way street.

Lastly we have one of the four pillars of life in my opinion. Consistency. Do you want to succeed? Do you want to win? Do you want to overcome? It’s all about reps. Being consistent with your routine, with your messaging, with your offers, with your conversations, with your content, with your employees and most importantly with your customers. In sports, we marvel at how good it appears that some athletes are-we don’t realize how hard they practiced and worked in order to be consistent.

What principles guide you?

You have 11 months to step up your social media game

What are you looking for when you read the latest link bait blog title? I’m always looking for the new tool. I’m looking for what I haven’t found yet, We all are. It’s why new diet books keep popping up on book shelves. Because people keep buying them. Because what worked before just doesn’t seem to be doing it now. We’re all constantly looking for a new approach, a new way to do things. Social media is no exception. We just have a different name for it, it’s called social media obsolescence.

Here’s an example:

You see as a society we’re just not satisfied. This extends to the social networks that we use. Yes, we all are using Facebook, and they are truly the exception to the rule. They are the immovable force. But other sites just die on the vine but for no other reason than it has reached it’s point of critical mass. It’s now in decline for the simple reason that we are looking for, no craving more than what that site delivered to us flawlessly.

To that end, I often find myself pondering whether I could possibly write something that hasn’t been said already. What will satisfy this rabid audience of social media consumers looking for the brass ring or the uber answer? Well the answer is, every day there is another great batch of great posts from some really smart people that I’m pleased to know professionally. Each with a new twist, a different angle, a fresh thought. Which tells us that indeed we are in the nascent stages of this monolith that we call social media.

So what’s there left to do?

What is left is for you and even me, to take all of these thoughts and processes and put them to good use and into action. Then you, my dear readers must pay it forward. No more selfish consuming.

You need to become the next legion of social media foot soldiers. We still have so many people that are completely perplexed and yet those of you that have been playing in the sandbox now for say the last year, know so much more than 75% of the population. That’s you! Start sharing what you know and what you have read. Don’t keep it to yourself.  Be a creator, as well as a conversationalist. Push the envelope in 2010, you have 11 months to get it done!

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Content-what’s it worth?

nyt

I got an email from an outfit out of Atlanta that was pitching me on my thoughts of what a combination of advertising, micropayments and regular subscriptions would look like for all of the newspapers that are struggling to redefine themselves.

As luck would have it, I had been thinking about and was going to write about the state of newspapers and how they were going to evolve with the times.  More specifically, how were they going to make money and survive.

Here’s the easy answer. They’re not. Some variation of them might. But…

Newspapers as we know or knew them, will not exist in their current state within the next 5 years.

Mark it down.

The proof is there and it continues to rear its ugly head week after week after week. Newspapers are shutting down. Newspapers, some deemed iconic institutions, are shrinking and or closing their doors. Why? The cost to produce the papers are outpacing the consumption. Why? We’re a nation on the move. The people, Gen Y and even Gen X, who are slowly becoming, if not already, the dominant workforce, are content to get their news, information, and content,online. We are moving rapidly to a global, mobile, society where newspapers do not fit into the equation of our daily lives.

As well, the next 5 years will crank out college grads, a workforce, and individuals that have virtually zero affinity with newspapers. They will have zero need for newspapers and they will not clamor for their “Sunday paper”.

So where does this leave the readers of the Sunday New York Times? Look for that venerable paper to go to printing once a week, on Sundays. In fact look for the larger ones to follow suit as well. It’s the only way newspapers as you and I know them, can survive in some  fashion of its former self.

So where will the money come from? These organizations will focus on the advertisers as they normally did, but it will evolve into using search as a primary function and money maker- where these online publications tie in some type of Adwords function into their sites. Ad dollars will flow but in different forms.

News organizations and Media outlets that control these papers, cannot rely on subscriptions, simply because there are too many ways for their readers to get the content for free. The realize that.  No one and I repeat no one, is willing to pay for content that they can find elsewhere, for free. If I’m forced to say, “OK, maybe some will pay for content”. Riddle me this, who are those people and what are they willing to pay for? If you’re going to say premium content, please tell me what you are calling premium and why is it worth paying for?

I know some of you will fight this notion, but then again if I were to have told you 5 years ago that all of the auto-makers would be on life support right now fighting for their very existence, what would you have said? Impossible!? No way!?

Well there is no clear indicator on the horizon right now that says anything differently about the slow death demise of the newspaper. There is nothing to stop it; and there is no one currently in school or getting ready to go to school who relies as much on newspapers as the older generations did.

It’s as simple as this..

Is content still king then? You betcha. But I got news for ya, content is also free, and that’s whats killing the newspaper business.

Old school… Say Hello to New School

If you don’t know who Toby Bloomberg is, then you should take the time to find out. She writes one of the top marketing/social media blogs in this space called Diva Marketing Blog, and it should be on your blog roll and in your feed reader as we speak. She is a warm, caring and brilliant strategic marketer.

Toby recently spoke at the AMA Marketing Strategy Conference in Orlando in which she gave a presentation titled First Generation of the Next Generation of Marketing.

One of the  many great things about Toby is that she knows how to utilize the power of her networks. Case in point,  she created the following slide for her presentation,  from a conversation that she and I had on Twitter.

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Do you agree with the assertion?