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Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) are fundamental to effective service provision. They provide the basis for managing the relationship between the service provider and the customer, describing the agreement between the service provider and customer for the service to be delivered, including how the service is to be measured. Basically, SLAs are intended to ensure the provider understands what they are supposed to deliver, the customer knows what to expect, and both can see (empirically) what is actually being delivered.

Regrettably, the ‘agreement’ role of the SLA is lost in many organisations, where SLA’s are used as ‘weapons’ to defend or challenge the provider or customer. The emphasis for SLAs must be on agreement, and the SLA should not be used to hold either side to ransom. A true partnership should be developed between the IT service provider and the customer, enabling a collaborative approach to quality improvement.

Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are a core element of an SLA. Ineffective or absent KPI can cause a service to fall into disrepute and a blame culture can develop. KPI for the service must accurately reflect the expectations and perceptions of both the customer and service provider.

To manage service provision, we need:

  • Service metrics which reflect the end-to-end quality of service or ‘user experience’
  • Process metrics to inform the service provider and customer of the effectiveness (achieving goals) and efficiency (use of resources) of key activities within the service delivery function.
  • Technology metrics to inform the IT provider at the component level, enabling the identification of issues and improvement opportunities
The Two SLAs

Customer-based SLA: An agreement signed with an individual customer or a group of customers, specifically designed to cover the services that group uses. You can have one of these, for instance, between a hosting provider and the finance department of a large company to cover things like the finance systems, the payroll systems, the billing systems, the procurement/purchase systems, etc.

Service-based SLA: One of the most used types of SLAs, it implies the same standard agreement for all the customers using the services that are offered by the service provider. Take, for example, an e-mail system for all of the companies. The SLA would cover the whole service provided.

When considering SLA KPI we must recognise that Customer perceptions are influenced by:

  • Attributes of service that are indicators of value e.g. relative performance, reliability or security of a remote workspace service
  • Present or prior experience of similar attributes
  • Relative endowment of competitors and other peers i.e. what they have
  • Customers self image or actual position in market (innovator, market leader, risk taker) i.e. do I expect leading edge solutions or accept / expect robust security requirements to access the service

When considering KPI from an IT perspective, we need to recognise that the customer is not excessively concerned with how the provider delivers the service and, as such, is NOT interested in visibility of the majority of KPI which the IT provider uses to manage the service e.g. component performance. On this basis, component and process KPI should not be included in the SLA. They are primarily articulated in Operational Level Agreements and Underpinning Contracts which underpin the SLA. Obviously, certain process KPI will overlap with customer expectations for the service e.g. “95% of incident which impacts more than 50 people in the organisation will be resolved within 4 hours” – customer expectation and Incident Management effectiveness KPI.

We also needs to consider the inclusion of Objective KPI (number of major incidents in a month) and Subjective KPI (Improvements in customer satisfaction).

Finally, we need to consider any scope or constraint measurements that may be required to provide context for current service levels. For example, incident resolution targets or service performance targets may be defined in the context of the number of user of the services (up to 500 concurrent users). In this case, we need to have visibility of the number of concurrent users at any time. It’s a possible discussion for another day but it is imperative that we always consider how we are going to measure each aspect of the service, before including it in the SLA. The mechanism, source and frequency of data collection, processing, analysis and reporting should be mutually agreed between the customer and IT service provider.

So, in summary:

You cannot have an SLA without measurements (KPI)

When selecting KPI, ask, what indicates value to the customer?

  • Enhanced performance in the business
  • Constraints removed from the business
  • Availability & Reliability of the Service
  • Performance of the service o Security of the service o Service Continuity (ability to recover from disaster)

Do not include IT ‘management’ KPI i.e. component & process metrics only used by IT. 

  • Consider “How and how often, can I measure that?”
  • Consider Objectives and Subjective metrics

Remember scope measures that may be required for context.

Above all else, do not forget the #1 rule – Nothing should be included in an SLA unless it can be effectively monitored and measured at commonly agreed points.

Source: Bill Heffernan of SureSkills <https://www.gsx.com/blog/bid/43737/the-challenges-of-managing-sla-s-service-level-agreements> Accessed 12th Feb 2019
Note: the article has been edited to meet our requirements.
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Mission, Vision Statements, Values, Goals and Strategies Identified 

Both people and organizations need to establish a strategic framework for significant success. This framework consists of:

  • A vision for your future
  • A mission that defines what you are doing
  • Values that shape your actions
  • Strategies that zero in on your key success approaches
  • Goals and action plans that guide your daily, weekly and monthly actions

Your organization’s success and your personal success depend on how well you define and live by each of these important concepts. In fact:

  • Companies whose employees understand the mission and goals enjoy a 29 percent greater return than other firms (Watson Wyatt Work Study).
  • U.S. workers want their work to make a difference, but 75 percent do not think their company’s mission statement has become the way they do business (Workplace 2000 Employee Insight Survey).
What Is a Vision and a Vision Statement? 

A vision is a statement about what your organization wants to become. It should resonate with all members of the organization and help them feel proud, excited, motivated and part of something much bigger than themselves.

A vision is a picture of your organization’s desired future expressed in a way that resonates with all members of the organization. The vision is shared with employees, customers, shareholders, vendors, and candidates for employment and creates shared meaning about what your organization wants to become. Determining your vision is an early component in corporate or organizational strategic planning.

The vision of the future that your organization’s employees commit to creating should stretch your organization’s capabilities and expand its current image of itself. The articulated and shared vision provides a picture of the organization that you are trying to create in the future. The vision becomes the rallying cry for your desired future.

The vision is translated into actions via the development of a vision statement that expresses the overall vision. Create a shorter vision statement because employees will remember it better than a one. When employees internalize the vision statement, they take action to make the vision statement come true.

Normally, the vision ranges in length from a couple of words to several pages. A shorter vision is more memorable. When a vision stretches on for pages, and even paragraphs, it is usually because the organization is also expressing how it plans to reach or create the vision. This process is better left for later in strategic planning when the organization develops strategies, goals, and action plans.

Vision Statement Samples 

“To be recognized and respected as one of the premier associations of HR Professionals.” (HR Association of Greater Detroit)

Personal Vision Statement 

Your personal vision for your life can be as simple as a couple of words or as lengthy as 200 or more elements you want to attain or accomplish.

Looking for help and samples to assist you to craft a mission statement that resonates and inspires? Both people and organizations need to establish a mission statement within a strategic framework to experience significant success.

Identifying and sharing your mission statement, vision, values, strategies, goals, and plans will engage your employees and fuel your future accomplishments. Here’s what a mission statement entails along with sample mission statements to help you develop your own.

What Is a Mission Statement? 

Your company or organization mission or purpose is expressed and shared as a mission statement. Mission or purpose is a precise description of what an organization does. The mission should describe the business the organization is in. It’s a definition of why the organization currently exists.

If the mission has been assimilated and integrated into your company culture, each member of your organization should be able to verbally express this mission. Every employee’s actions should demonstrate the mission statement in action.

Personal Mission Statement 

Additionally, each person needs a mission for his or her life. The alignment of your life mission with your organization’s mission is one of the key factors determining whether you are happy with your work and workplace.

If your personal and organizational mission statements are congruent, you are most likely happy with your choice of work. Take the time to develop your mission statement for your own life; compare your personal mission statement with the mission statement of your organization. Do the mission statements meld?

Mission Statement Samples 

These are examples of mission statements that have been developed and shared with the public.

  • “FedEx Corporation will produce superior financial returns for its shareowners by providing high value-added logistics, transportation, and related business services through focused operating companies. Customer requirements will be met in the highest quality manner appropriate to each market segment served. FedEx will strive to develop mutually rewarding relationships with its employees, partners, and suppliers. Safety will be the first consideration in all operations. Corporate activities will be conducted to the highest ethical and professional standards.” (Federal Express Mission and Goals)
  • “To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people.” (Wal-Mart Mission Statement)
  • “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” (Amazon.com Mission Statement)
  • “In order to realize our Vision, our Mission must be to exceed the expectations of our customers, whom we define as guests, partners, and fellow employees. (mission) We will accomplish this by committing to our shared values and by achieving the highest levels of customer satisfaction, with extraordinary emphasis on the creation of value. (strategy) In this way, we will ensure that our profit, quality, and growth goals are met.” (Westin Hotels and Resorts Mission Statement)
  • “To spread the power of optimism.” (Life Is Good)
  • “Each day, American Express makes it easier, safer and more rewarding for consumers and businesses to purchase the things they need and for merchants to sell their goods and services. An engine of commerce, American Express provides innovative payment, travel and expense management solutions for individuals and businesses of all sizes. Most of all, we help our customers realize their dreams and aspirations through industry-leading benefits, access to unique experiences, business-building insights, and global customer care. We enable our customers to do more and achieve more. (American Express)
What Are Values and Value Statements? 

Values are beliefs that manifest in how an employee interacts in a workplace, and they stand at the core of what your organization is and what your organization cherishes.

Values also known as core values and as governing values, represent an employee’s most significant commitments to what he finds most important in life.

Value statements are developed from your values and define how people want to behave with each other in the organization day to day. They provide a measuring device against which you evaluate all of your actions and behaviors.

Value statements are declarations about how the organization will value customers, suppliers, and the internal community, describing actions that are the living enactment of the fundamental values held by most individuals within the organization.

The values of each of the individuals in your workplace, along with their experiences and upbringing, meld together to form your corporate culture. The values of your senior leaders are especially important in the development of your culture.

These leaders have a lot of power in your organization to set the course and establish the quality of the environment for people. Your leaders have selected employees who they believe have congruent values and fit your workplace culture.

The Impact of Your Personal Values 

If you think about your own life, your values form the cornerstones for all that you do, think, believe and accomplish. Your personal values define where you spend your time if you are truly living your values.

Each of you makes choices in life according to your most important four to ten values. Take the time to identify what is most important to you and your organization. Identify and live your values. Manifest your values through value statements.

Why Identify and Establish Values? 

Effective organizations identify and develop a clear, concise and shared meaning of values/beliefs, priorities, and direction so that every employee understands and can contribute. Once defined, values impact every aspect of your organization.

You must support and nurture the impact of these value statements or identifying ​the values will have been a wasted exercise. Employees will feel fooled and misled unless they see the impact on your organization.

Create Impact Through Values and Value Statements 

If you want the values you identify and the value statements you craft to have an impact within your organization, follow these guidelines:

  • Employees must demonstrate and model these values in action in their personal work behaviors, decision making, contribution, and interpersonal interaction.
  • Organizational values help each person establish priorities in their daily work life. Priorities and actions must be grounded in the organization’s values and model the value statements identified for each employee’s job.
  • Allow values to guide every decision that is made once the organization has cooperatively created the values and the value statements.
  • Structure rewards and recognition within the organization to recognize those people whose work embodies the values and the value statements that the organization identified and embraced.
  • Create organizational goals grounded in the identified values. Employees must identify how their goals and actions are congruent with and demonstrate the values daily.
  • Recognize the adoption of values and behaviors in regular performance feedback.
  • Hire and promote individuals whose outlook and actions are congruent with the organization’s values.

A truly organization-wide, value-based, shared culture will result from the active participation of all members of the organization along with the development of the systems and processes of the organization grounded in the company’s values.

Sample Values 

The following are examples of values: ambition, competency, individuality, equality, integrity, service, responsibility, accuracy, respect, dedication, diversity, improvement, enjoyment/fun, loyalty, credibility, honesty, innovation, teamwork, excellence, accountability, empowerment, quality, efficiency, dignity, collaboration, stewardship, empathy, accomplishment, courage, wisdom, independence, security, challenge, influence, learning, compassion, friendliness, discipline/order, generosity, persistence, optimism, dependability, flexibility.

Family, church, and professionalism are not values, although they’re important aspects of your life and deserving of your attention. If you define what you value about each of these, then you are identifying the core value. For example, the core value hidden in the use of the word family might be close relationships; in church, spirituality; and in professionalism, demonstrating integrity in everything you do.

Corporate Examples of Value Statements 

Companies have many ways of describing their values and value statements including corporate philosophy, words to live by, leadership principles, guiding values or principles and more.

No matter what an organization calls them, the values statements are rooted in the core values of members of the organization. They manifest the core values of their leaders especially. These value statement samples give you an idea of the depth and breadth from which organizations write their values. Search online for values and value statements, and you’ll find some that stretch to several pages too.

Merck’s Values: “To preserve and improve human life.” (Merck)

At Merck, “corporate conduct is inseparable from the conduct of individual employees in the performance of their work. Every Merck employee is responsible for adhering to business practices that are in accordance with the letter and spirit of the applicable laws and with ethical principles that reflect the highest standards of corporate and individual behavior…

“At Merck, we are committed to the highest standards of ethics and integrity. We are responsible to our customers, to Merck employees and their families, to the environments we inhabit, and to the societies we serve worldwide. In discharging our responsibilities, we do not take professional or ethical shortcuts. Our interactions with all segments of society must reflect the high standards we profess.”

Zappos Family Core Values: “As we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to explicitly define the core values from which we develop our culture, our brand, and our business strategies. These are the ten core values that we live by”:

  1. “Deliver WOW Through Service”
  2. “Embrace and Drive Change”
  3. “Create Fun and A Little Weirdness”
  4. “Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded”
  5. “Pursue Growth and Learning”
  6. “Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication”
  7. “Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit”
  8. “Do More With Less”
  9. “Be Passionate and Determined”
  10. “Be Humble”

The Zappos Family Values are clearly described in detail on their website and worth a visit.

Google’s Core PhilosophyGoogle calls its values and value statements its philosophy, and they re-look at the components every few years to make sure that the values are still the same.

  • “Focus on the user, and all else will follow.”
  • “It’s best to do one thing really, really well.”
  • “Fast is better than slow.”
  • “Great just isn’t good enough.”
More Samples of Values and Value Statements 

Additional values and value statements samples are available for your review.

In a strategic business framework for organizational planning and success, your strategies, goals, and action plans intertwine and build upon each other to create the appropriate steps to accomplish your mission and vision.

Organizations need strategies, goals, and action plans to cascade the mission through the organization and engage the talents of all employees. Here is how strategies, goals and action plans fit together to accomplish your mission and vision.

What Are Strategies? 

Strategies are the broadly defined four or five key approaches the organization will use to accomplish its mission and drive toward the vision. Goals and action plans usually flow from each strategy.

One example of a strategy is creating employee empowerment and teamwork. Another is to pursue a new worldwide market in Asia. Or to streamline your current distribution system using lean management principles.

One university Human Resources Development department established several broad strategies for growth. These included becoming the training and education resource of choice for all employees by offering one-stop access to any and all existing education and training resources. Additionally, they determined key strategies for expanding their funding base and moving courses online for customer convenience.

Another Human Resources department devised strategies to develop a superior workforce. These included eliminating poor performers; hiring from several choices of excellent candidates rather than settling on a candidate; developing succession planning, and increasing training and cross-training opportunities.

Sample Strategies 

“The Human Resource Association of Greater Detroit’s (HRAGD) efforts to advance its mission will include: The promotion of voluntary member interchange, observance of ethical and professional standards, the conduct of meetings and workshops on relevant human resources topics and issues, communication of our purpose and activities to the broader business community, cooperation with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), as well as, other SHRM professional and student chapters and related Human Resources organizations and the community involvement of our membership.

“The Association regularly publishes newsletters throughout the year which cover items such as monthly meeting highlights, future programs, Executive Board announcements, SHRM, and legislative updates and general human resources news. Also, a Membership Directory and member skills listing are published.”

FedEx developed these business strategies.

“The unique FedEx operating strategy works seamlessly – and simultaneously – on three levels.

  • Compete collectively by standing as one brand worldwide and speaking with one voice.
  • Operate independently by focusing on our independent networks to meet distinct customer needs.
  • Manage collaboratively by working together to sustain loyal relationships with our workforce, customers, and investors.”
Develop Goals and Action Plans 

After you have developed the key strategies, turn your attention to developing several goals that will enable you to accomplish each of your strategies.

Goals should reach beyond the terms in the traditional SMART acronym: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.

As an example, the HRAGD group might consider setting one goal to hold a monthly chapter meeting. Another goal that supports the carrying out of their strategies involves scheduling a relevant seminar quarterly. An additional one might include holding informal dinners and cocktail hours to support voluntary member exchange.

Once you have enabled strategy accomplishment through setting goals, develop action plans to accomplish each goal. For HRAGD to offer a quarterly seminar, here’s an action plan to follow:

  • Establish a cross-section of professionals as a committee and meet to plan the sessions.
  • Determine budget.
  • Perform an assessment of HRAGD member needs.
  • Select topics based on member needs assessment.
  • Locate exceptional speakers.
  • Pick speaker and negotiate workshop length, pay, topic and objectives.
  • Determine location and schedule the seminar.
  • Plan advertising strategies.

Make action plans as detailed as necessary and integrate the individual steps into your planning system. An effective planning system, whether it uses a software program, an iPad, or paper and pen, will keep your goals and action plans on track and on target.

Want to be one of the organizations whose employees understand the mission and goals and enjoys a 29 percent greater return over other firms? Involve as many people as you can in charting the roadmap we’ve shared for developing a strategic framework for your business.

Executed effectively, you will enjoy a greater return. With your vision, mission, values, strategies, goals and action plans, you’ll win, both personally and professionally.

Source: SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD -<https://www.thebalancecareers.com/create-your-personal-vision-statement-1919208> Accessed 17th Feb 2019
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Here’s Your Quick Start Learning Guide to Performance Management

Want to understand the basics of performance management? Many writers and consultants are using the term as a substitution for the traditional appraisal system. You are encouraged to think of the term in this broader work system context instead. Performance management eliminates the need for performance appraisals, employee reviews, and employee evaluations.

Performance management is not an annual appraisal meeting. It is not preparing for that appraisal meeting nor is it a self-evaluation. It’s not a form nor is it a measuring tool although many organizations may use tools and forms to track goals and improvements, they are not the process of performance management.

Performance management is the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities.

Performance management is a whole work system that begins when a job is defined as needed. It ends when an employee leaves your organization.

Performance management defines your interaction with an employee at every step of the way in between these major life cycle occurrences. Performance management makes every interaction opportunity with an employee into a learning occasion.

Components of a Performance Management System 

The performance management system may contain all of these components, but it is the overall system that matters, not the individual components. Many organizations have been able to develop effective performance management systems without all of the following practices.

A performance management system includes the following actions:

  • Develop clear job descriptions using an employee recruitment plan that identifies the selection team.
  • Recruit potential employees and select the most qualified to participate in interviews onsite.
  • Conduct interviews to narrow down your pool of candidates.
  • Hold multiple additional meetings, as needed, to get to know your candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, and abilities to contribute what you need. Use potential employee testing and assignments where they make sense for the position that you are filling.
  • Select appropriate people using a comprehensive employee selection process to identify the most qualified candidate who has the best cultural fit and job fit that you need.
  • Offer your selected candidate the job and negotiate the terms and conditions of employment including salary, benefits, paid time off, and other organizational perks.
  • Welcome the new employee to your organization.
  • Provide effective new employee orientation, assign a mentor, and integrate your new employee into the organization and its culture.
  • Negotiate requirements and accomplishment-based performance standards, outcomes, and measures between the employee and his or her new manager.
  • Provide ongoing education and training as needed.
  • Provide on-going coaching and feedback.
  • Conduct quarterly performance development planning discussions.
  • Design effective compensation and recognition systems that reward people for their ongoing contributions.
  • Provide promotional/career development opportunities including lateral moves, transfers, and job shadowing for staff.
  • Assist with exit interviews to understand WHY valued employees leave the organization.
Learn More about Performance Management Quickly 

The articles below offer information about how to master performance management quickly and efficiently and should be read in the presented order. For your best results in developing your performance management system.

This is the quick path to learning more about performance management and performance development planning. You can implement this system in your organization with great success.

  • Performance Appraisals Don’t Work tells you why you want to move away from the traditional appraisal system.
  • Performance Management Glossary Entry provides a basic definition of performance management.
  • Performance Management Is Not an Annual Appraisal provides the components of a performance management system.
  • Performance Management Process Checklist gives you the components of the performance management process.
  • Performance Development Planning provides the steps for preparing and implementing performance development planning.
  • Performance Development Planning Form is used to write out specific goals and measurements, to be updated quarterly.
  • Goal Setting: Beyond Traditional SMART Goals discusses goal setting.
  • Tips to Help Managers Improve Performance Appraisals provides concrete suggestions about how those of you who have to manage in a traditional performance appraisal culture can make them better—for both you and the employee.
  • Common Problems With Performance Appraisals identifies the most common reasons why appraisals are not effective.
  • Phrases for Approaching Performance Reviews and Difficult Conversations shares tips about successfully holding a comfortable appraisal meeting.

With all of these tips and tools to help you develop a performance management system, you’ll find it easy to put such a system together. Staying committed and making it work is the hard part. But, you can do it. Your managers and employees will see the utility.

For those of you who have little impact on the system used to review employee performance, the appraisal articles will help you work with what you have. Best wishes for your success.

Source: SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD – <https://www.thebalancecareers.com/performance-management-1918226> Accessed 17th Feb 2019

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Stay motivated, committed, and moving forward

Goals are objectives, targets, purposes, intentions, and plans that you intend to achieve. They can be personal or support the objectives of your work organization. Whether your goal is a promotion at work, a streamlined work process, a new customer, a published article, an exercise program, or weight loss, the goal must be your goal. You are less likely to achieve your manager’s goal, your spouse’s goal, or the goal you think you ought to work on this year.

Set Goals Based on Values 

Hyrum Smith, the founder of Franklin Quest, later Franklin-Covey Inc., developed a “Success Triangle” that puts governing values at the base of the goal-setting process and recommends linking every goal to a governing value. For example, if diversity in the workforce is a value your organization espouses, then at least one goal must further diversity. Every goal should be linked to a governing value.

Establish short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals based on the solid foundation of your values. If your goal is congruent with and allows you to live your most important values, you are more likely to accomplish the goal.

Gene Donohue of TopAchievement.com suggests setting goals in all aspects of your life to maintain your life balance. You are less likely to experience warring priorities if every aspect of your life has a value-based goal. He suggests setting goals in the following areas:

  • Family and home
  • Financial and career
  • Spiritual and ethical
  • Physical and health
  • Social and cultural
  • Mental and educational
Listen to Your Positive Voice 

Each of us has the voice of our subconscious, judging self in our heads. On a daily basis, you engage in self-talk and comment on each situation you encounter. You discuss events and plans in your mind.

Your commentary is both positive and negative. Positive thoughts and planning support the accomplishment of your goals. Negative thoughts and comments undermine your self-esteem and self-confidence and negatively impact your ability to accomplish your goals.

Listen to your voice. You can change its tone by believing in yourself and in your ability to accomplish your goals and resolutions.

If you are a manager, one of your more important tasks is to support the development of positive self-esteem by your staff members. Your positive outlook and belief in their success at accomplishing great goals foster their increased self-esteem and self-confidence. This, in turn, magnifies their ability to accomplish more and contribute more to your business.

Paint a Vivid Outcome 

Traditionally, goals were established around measurable outcomes. But don’t tie yourself to setting only measurable goals; you may find yourself concentrating on the trivial because it is measurable rather than on your most important outcomes. Sometimes the most important goals—the nonurgent, critical goals—are hard to measure.

“Explore alternatives for a business in the World Wide Web” is tough to measure, whereas the steps are easy to measure. “Learn about new options and think about performance management” is tough to measure in any significant way. As you move up the management ranks, the key measurable aspects of your job will likely be the results produced by your reporting staff. With hard-to-meausure goals, start with a picture in your mind that describes the outcome you are seeking. Make the picture as vivid as you can.

Write Your Goals 

Writing out your goal is your commitment to achieving the goal. Its a powerful statement compared with half-formulated thoughts in the back of your mind. It is the conscious promise to yourself to pay attention to the accomplishment of the goal. Writing out potential action plans and due dates make the goal even more powerful.

Share Your Goals With People Who Are Important to You 

If you are certain your significant others will support your goals, share them. Your manager is likely to support your accomplishment since your success is her success.

Honestly assess the ability of your family members, peers, and friends to provide support. In close relationships, many different feelings, experiences, and historical events are at play. If you don’t believe you will have wholehearted support, keep the goals to yourself.

Check Goal Setting and Achievement Progress Regularly 

One of the weaknesses of any annual appraisal system is the lack of frequency of progress and success measurement and tracking. You are most likely to accomplish the goals you set if you review them daily as part of your normal planning process.

Whether you use a paper planner, a smartphone, or a computer, enter your goals and schedule daily and weekly actions that support their accomplishment. The discipline of the daily review is a powerful goal accomplishment tool.

Take Action to Identify and Eliminate Obstacles to Goal Setting Success 

Simply tracking your goals daily is not enough. If you’re unhappy with your progress, assess what is keeping you from accomplishing the goals. Ask yourself questions such as, “Is this goal really important?” Perhaps reevaluate the goal.

”Are there specific obstacles you are experiencing which are interfering with your ability to accomplish the goal?” In this case, make action plans to remove the obstacles or seek help from a coworker, friend, or family member.

If you are not making progress on a particular goal, attempt to do a root-cause analysis to determine why. Only by honestly analyzing your lack of progress can you determine the steps to take to change.

Reward Yourself and Celebrate Goal Accomplishment 

Even the accomplishment of a minor goal is cause for celebration. Don’t depress yourself with thoughts about all that you still have to do. Celebrate what you have done. Then move on to the next milestone.

Goals and New Year Resolutions Change 

Periodically look at the goals you have set. Are the goals still the right goals? Give yourself permission to change your goals and resolutions based on changing circumstances.

Don’t spend an entire year failing to achieve a particular goal. Your time is better spent on achievement than on beating yourself up for lack of progress. Maybe you made the goal too big or maybe you set too many goals. Do an honest assessment, change what needs to change, and move on.

Paying attention to these guidelines can make all the difference in your life and help power your success.

Source: BY SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD - <https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-set-and-achieve-goals-1918137> Accessed 17th Feb 2019
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Job titles are the official names or designations for the title of what you would call an employee who is performing a specific job. Job titles designate a particular role, in one specific position, that has a specific status. Each job function at a specific level in the hierarchy of an organization on the company’s organizational chart.

What Job Titles Designate 

These job titles designate the hierarchy, from executive management to low-ranking employees, within the job structure of an organization. They also denote the reporting relationships of staff members as well as the status level within the company. In some instances, titles designate an individual as an officer of the company with specific responsibilities that make them legally accountable in their position. These include such staff positions as CEO, president, and vice president.

You will find job titles and the organization hierarchy displayed on an organizational chart which reflects your organization’s culture.

These rankings demonstrate your commitment to a top-down, hierarchical organization versus a relatively flat reporting structure.

Levels in the Job Title Hierarchy 

Organizations come up with all sorts of titles that they believe demonstrate their corporate values, define the responsibilities of a position, and designate the place the job holds in the organization’s hierarchy. It’s worth noting that the same job can have different titles depending on the company, the industry, the location, and the size of the company.

In the field of Human Resources, job titles that are commonly in use range from administrative assistant to an attorney.

These are titles that you typically find in an organization with the level of the job represented numerically. You won’t find all of them in any one organization, and you will find many variations that suit the organization and its hierarchical structure.

Historically, the top three positions are:

  1. Chairman of the Board of Directors
  2. Vice Chairman of the Board
  3. Board of Directors (members)

These people are external to the operations of the organization although the Chief Executive Officer and even the President frequently sit on the Board.

Here is an example of the traditional internal hierarchy of an organization.

  1. Chief Executive Officer
  2. Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), Chief Data Officer (CDO), Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Talent Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHR), Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Chief User Experience Officer (CUEO), Chief Automation Officer (CAO), Chief Intellectual Property Officer (CIPO)
  1. President
  2. Executive Vice President
  3. Senior Vice President
  4. Vice President
  5. Assistant Vice President
  6. Associate Vice President
  7. Senior Director
  8. Director
  9. Assistant Director
  10. Manager
  11. Middle Manager of people or a function
  12. Employees, freelancers, contract employees, temporary employees, contingent employees. part-time employees
Organizational Charts 

An organizational chart is a visual communication tool that allows employees and other stakeholders to see employee job titles as well as the reporting relationships in an organization. 

The organizational chart usually portrays the organization’s structure using boxes and vertical and horizontal lines to connect the boxes. The vertical lines demonstrate the reporting relationships of supervisors and their reporting staff.

The lateral or horizontal lines indicate a working relationship. A dotted or broken line indicates a strong working relationship with an employee who may supervise your work or projects. But, the employee is not your boss.

Use and Types

Organizational charts are used for:

  • Organizational and Supervisory Communication
  • Workforce Planning
  • Departmental or Team Planning
  • Resource Planning
  • Change Management
  • Organizational Restructuring or Redesign
  • Job Analysis

If you look at an organizational chart and find rows of vertical boxes with few relationship lines extending from the boxes, the organization is probably hierarchical.

The boxes on an organizational chart for a flat organization have a more horizontal relationship. In a team-based, empowering organization, each supervisor has many reporting staff members.

And, the team-based organizational chart may focus on the relationship between teams to illustrate the interlinking of people and teams.

Predictions for the Future 

Some analysts and consultants predict that you will see continued expansion in the executive jobs with titles at the C-level (or C-suite as it is commonly called) such as COO, CEO, and CIO.

As the war for talent increases, qualified executives for these roles will demand the C-level title so that they have equivalent authority and responsibility with their co-executives. 

Analysts are also predicting the flattening of the hierarchy through the elimination of many middle management roles in favor of executive-level managers who report to the executives at the C-level. This will have the effect of eliminating a communication and goal-definition level that frequently creates problems in communicating effectively.

Source: SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD -< https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-do-job-titles-signify-on-the-organization-chart-1918171> Accessed 17th Feb 2019
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One of your sales management goals for 2019 is to improve the sales and marketing alignment within your company. Previously, both departments have operated largely independently of each other, despite the fact that their goals were similar – to find more potential customers to sell to. However, you’ve since learned that sales and marketing alignment can take your sales results to the next level – and that alignment between the two starts with a Service-Level Agreement (SLA).

It takes more than just a handshake between you and your Marketing VP to complete an effective SLA. Here is a step-by-step process of how to set up an effective SLA that actually works and keeps both parties happy!

Write an Executive Summary

Your executive summary should answer one question: why are we doing this? Present your answer in a way that will be clear to your CEO and board of directors. Maybe you feel like marketing could do more to support the initiative and play a bigger role in growing revenue. Perhaps there is a lack of clarity in the handoff process of leads between sales and marketing. Whatever your reason for implementing an SLA to improve sales and marketing alignment, make sure this reason is clear to all parties involved.

Agree upon definitions for ALL terminology

This is one of the most crucial aspects of designing your SLA, precisely because there has been such heretofore disconnect between sales and marketing. Prior to this alignment, it is likely that both departments had different ideas and definitions of key terms, including:

  • What’s a prospect? Are these names collected from your website, via organic searches, or any other means of top-of-the-funnel activity? Odds are these people need additional vetting or nurturing from marketing before they are sales-ready.
  • What’s a lead? Typically, a lead is a prospect that has taken the next step and engaged with your company or your content in a way. In a word, leads are arm-raisers, people looking to learn more. However, make sure this is clear to both sales and marketing.
  • What’s a marketing-qualified lead? Now is when things get tricky. Companies typically have certain qualifications or steps that leads have to take in order to be marketing-qualified, such as signing up for a free trial or downloading X pieces of content. Finalize this definition and make sure it is known across the company.
Learn all about each other’s processes

This is most crucial for marketing – it is rare for marketing teams to be fully abreast of what the sales reps are doing to win clients, and vice versa. For instance, imagine if marketing knows what an ideal customer profile of a winning client looks like. With a fully-crafted image of an ideal customer, marketing can do a better job of actively seeking out these ICPs.

Or let’s say sales meets with marketing to share the objections they encounter most common. With these in mind, marketing can start developing campaigns and materials that anticipate these objections and solves for them, before the prospects even speak with a sales rep. Similarly, sales should understand the marketing process – such as how nurturing campaigns are run – to better time their own activities. Most importantly, both sides should determine if their respective efforts are synced up to the buyer’s process.

Let’s talk numbers

Of course, no service-level agreement would be complete without the relevant sales metrics in place. These metrics are necessary to give each team a goal to shoot for, while providing them benchmarks to measure their progress against. Some specific metrics to consider in your service-level agreement include:

  • How many sales-ready leads will marketing deliver each week / month / quarter?
  • How quickly will marketing follow up on each of these leads? Research has shown that immediate follow-up can lead to higher conversion rates – it’s on both teams to determine a follow-up time that is effective, while remaining realistic.
  • How much will marketing contribute to the pipeline? This is one of the most important sales pipeline metrics to ensure that sales is marketing is holding up its end of the bargain.

We’ll dive further into the relevant sales metrics of a service-level agreement in a future blog post.

Sales and marketing alignment is absolutely crucial to the success of both your sales and marketing departments, so don’t skimp on the resources; take the time and follow these best practices to ensure an SLA that is clear, concise and actually effective.

Source: <https://www.insightsquared.com/2014/01/how-to-set-up-a-service-level-agreement-that-works/> Accessed 15th Feb 2019
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You’re a small business owner, and you want to take your business to the next level. It’s time to learn how to create your mission statement.

A mission statement reflects your business’s goals and values with few words. You use a mission statement to show potential customers what makes your company stand out.

I’ve created many small business mission statements over my 30 years in business. I’ve written mission statement ideas, revised them, scrapped them, and conducted research. I’ve even met with an expert in creating mission statements.

To save you from spending a lot of time with trial and error, here is a list of things to keep in mind as you create your business’s mission statement.

7 rules about how to create a mission statement

Take a look at these seven tips I’ve learned that can help you develop a great mission statement.

#1: You need a simple mission statement

Use one sentence as your mission statement. Being short can be more beneficial than a full sentence that uses proper grammar. Conciseness is often more memorable and can help build brand awareness more efficiently. If it’s longer than one sentence, your mission might end up too wordy.

Try to avoid big, fancy words, especially if they do not fit with your brand. Eliminate all superfluous words. If potential customers can’t memorize your mission statement, you’ve missed the mark.

#2: Your mission statement should be original

You should try not to outsource your mission statement. Your mission statement is your message to the world and your customers. For an authentic mission that reflects your company’s values, you should write it yourself.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a mission statement, do some brainstorming. Write down your business’s purpose, goals, and values. Use the list to come up with a concise and honest mission for your business.

#3: You can’t include everything

You’re the business owner. You’re in charge. You’re the expert on your business. And, you probably have a lot to say about it.

But you can’t include every detail about your business in your mission statement. You’ll have to leave some details out. Choose words that are memorable and fit with your brand. When it comes to your mission statement, a few key words or phrases can have the most impact.

#4: Your mission statement needs to be honest

Your mission statement should clearly tell what you’re doing at your business. When a customer sees or hears your mission, they should think, “That’s what they do, alright.”

In other words, you can’t brag about being the best in the U.S. if you’re not. Your mission must be realistic.

#5: Don’t make your mission statement too broad or narrow

Many entrepreneurs like to experiment, which means they might lose their focus.

Just like the guardrail on a highway keeps cars on the road, your mission statement should keep your business on course. The next time you have a new business idea, see if it falls between the guardrails of your mission statement. That keeps your mission statement from being too broad or too narrow.

#6: The statement can’t do it all

Others might say your mission statements needs a ton of information about your small business.

You can create different statements on their own, but don’t make your mission statement do all the work. It’s alright to put in some of your passion and originality into your mission statement, but don’t forget to keep it short!

#7: It’s OK to change your mission statement

It’s OK to try a new mission statement and throw it out in a few days. It’s also OK to have a mission statement for years and then replace it.

Change your mission statement as it is necessary. The longer you are in business, the more your business will change and grow. Your mission may not be the same as when you started. Your mission statement should evolve with your company.

Mission statement example

Throughout the years, I’ve had several mission statements for Software, my accounting and payroll software company. Some of them have worked, while others didn’t quite hit the mark. Let’s take a look at the difference between two mission statements.Example 1: Patriot’s current mission statement:To make accounting and payroll fast, simple, and affordable for American small businesses

If you look at the seven rules above, you’ll see that Patriot’s statement fits each rule. But, it took me several tries over a 12-year period to make the mission statement that simple.Example 2: Patriot’s mission statement before the statement shown above:We are passionate about providing simple, accurate, and affordable online software that makes it easy for American small businesses to process their critical data.

I could never remember it. None of my employees could remember it. And, it uses phrases that people don’t usually say, like “to process their critical data.”

Last thoughts

It’s ideal to squeeze some passion, core values, or competitiveness into your mission. But as mentioned earlier, the elements have to be real to your brand. Keep the seven rules above in mind as you create your business’s mission statement.

Source: Mike Kappel - <https://smallbusiness.patriotsoftware.com/how-to-create-mission-statement/> Accessed 10th Feb 2019
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At almost every convention I speak at, someone will approach me afterwards and ask: ‘James, should I start a hotel business?’, or ‘James, should I open a restaurant?’ The list continues: jewellers, clothing lines, even air lines. The fact is that I am not going to be able to answer this question for you. What I can do is tell you how to find the answer you need. There are 3 very simple, but very essential questions that you need to ask yourself before you give up the day job. Read carefully, because this is important:

Is This A Business, Or A Hobby?

Entrepreneurs normally have their ‘Eureka!’ moments when they find themselves solving a problem. The question is, is this problem relevant to the masses? It’s important to realise that not everyone will share your passion for digging holes, for DIY tinkering, or for multi functional storage space. Whilst these things may appeal to some, they probably aren’t going to generate enough interest to sustain a business. Your state-of-the-art shovel is invaluable to you, but perhaps not to your neighbour. So, before you launch your business, ask yourself this: am I catering to a hobby, or am I creating a business? If you admit that it’s a hobby, that doesn’t mean you are admitting failure. Remember: every idea that doesn’t work is one step closer to one that will. 

Is It Viable?

If you’ve found the concept, it’s time to get statistical. For every business idea, you need to ensure that it fulfills this equation: 

Price of product/service = Cost of Goods + Cost of Time + Cost of Opportunity (i.e. the money you have to spend to acquire and supply your customers) + Profit.

A lot of people tend to write time out of this equation. Never underestimate this aspect of starting a business. No matter how hard you work, how focussed you are, there are only so many hours in your day. The reality is, that if you leave any factor of this equation out it becomes void. Don’t scale yourself out of your own business, you are its core ingredient. 

Is It Desirable? 

If your statistics check out, you can progress to the next stage. Ask yourself: is this product or service actually desirable? This is different as to whether or not it’s a hobby – this is not a question of how many people it will appeal to, but how much. The only way to find this out is to do some field work. Ask as many people as you can what they think of your idea, and ask them honestly. These conversations need to be frank. There’s no use in your mate telling you it’s a good idea just so that they don’t upset you. Flattery will get you quite literally nowhere. 

So, in conclusion: check your idea against yourself, then check it against the facts, then check it against your friends. This might seem like simple logic, but I see people get this wrong almost everyday. Don’t ask me whether your antique book shop will succeed, ask yourself. You are the only person that can make this happen – to an extent, you are your product. It’s not a shame to give up on a bad idea, but it would be to give up on yourself. What protocols do you have when it comes to taking a risk? 

Source: James Caan CBE -<https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-most-important-questions-ask-before-starting-james-caan-cbe/> Accessed 12th Feb 2019

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Use These Tips for Employee Retention to Retain Your Best Employees 

Retaining key employees is critical to the long-term health and success of your business. Managers readily agree that keeping your best employees ensures customer satisfaction, increased product sales, satisfied, happy coworkers, and effective succession planning and organizational knowledge and learning. 

Employee Retention 

Employee retention matters. Failing to retain a key employee is costly to the bottom line and creates organizational issues such as insecure coworkers, excess job duties that coworkers must absorb, time invested in recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee.

Various estimates suggest that losing a middle manager costs an organization up to 100 percent of their salary. The loss of a senior executive is even more costly. This is not only because of the lost revenues but also due to the fact that hiring and training a replacement is costly to your organization.

For your more senior positions, often the services of a headhunter are required which can cost your organization up to a third of the position’s annual salary. When these positions pay in excess of $150,000, this is a huge cost for your organization to absorb.

Exit interviews do provide one answer because departing employees can provide you with valuable information you can use to retain the remaining staff. Heed their results because you’ll never have a more significant source of data about the health of your organization.

And, better yet, perform stay interviews so that you can identify why people stay with your organization. This information will help you create the culture and work environment essential if you want to retain your best employees.

Retention Tips 

This retention advice will help you keep your best, most wanted employees from job hunting. If these ten factors exist in their workplace, they are much less likely to want to leave your employment.

1. Make sure employees know what you expect from them. Management thinkers from Ferdinand Fournies in “Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What to Do About It” to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in “First Break All the Rules” agree that constantly changing expectations creates unhealthy stress. Provide a specific framework within which people clearly know is expected.

2. Provide quality management or supervision. People leave companies because of managers and supervisors more often than they leave because of their actual jobs. Frequent employee complaints point to these areas:

  • Lack of clarity about expectations
  • Lack of clarity about earning potential
  • Lack of feedback about performance
  • Failure to hold scheduled meetings
  • Failure to provide a framework within which the employee perceives they can succeed

3. Provide a platform for employees to speak their mind freely within the organization. Does your organization solicit ideas and provide an environment in which people are comfortable providing feedback? If so, employees can offer ideas, feel free to criticize and commit to continuous improvement—all factors that contribute to employee retention.

4. Allow employees to use their talents and skills. A motivated employee wants to contribute to work areas outside of his or her specific job description. Begin by taking the time to learn your employees’ skills, talents, and past and current experience. Then, tap into it.

5. Provide a perception of fairness and equitable treatment. If a new sales rep is given the most potentially successful, commission-producing accounts, other staff members will inevitably feel cheated. If a new employee receives a promotion over the heads of long-term, existing employees, feelings of rancor will ensue.

Salaries are important too, of course. If a staff person with three year’s experience is given a $15,000 raise and more senior staffers receive just $10,000, then undoubtedly the morale of the slighted employees will be affected. Even if the employee deserves the raise, recognize that these decisions will have a negative impact on others.

6. Tools, time, and training should be your best friend. When an employee is failing at work, ask, “What about the work system is causing the person to fail?” Employees must have the necessary means to do their job well. Otherwise, they’ll move on to an employer who provides them with the tools they need to succeed.

7. Remember that exemplary employees want to learn and grow. Unless employees can try new opportunities, take on challenging tasks, and attend seminars, they will stagnate. A career-oriented, valued employee must experience growth opportunitieswithin your organization to realize their potential.

8. Make sure senior management knows that an employee exists. This is a common complaint voiced during an exit interview. Even the president of a company needs to take some time to meet with employees to learn about their talents, abilities, and skills. Meeting with each employee periodically is a critical tool to help employees feel acknowledged and results in loyal, dedicated, committed employees.

9. Whatever the circumstances, never threaten an employee’s job or incomeEven if you know layoffs are looming, it’s a mistake to foreshadow this information with employees. It makes them nervous no matter how you phrase or explain the information and your best staff members will update their resumes. You shouldn’t keep solid performance information away from people but think before you say anything that makes people feel they need to search for another job.

10. Make staff members feel appreciated. Frequently saying thank you for a job well done goes a long way. And, monetary rewards, bonuses, and gifts make the thank you even more significant. Raises tied to accomplishments and achievement will help you retain staff probably more than any other action. Commissions and bonuses that are easily calculated on a daily basis, and easily understood, raise motivation and help retain staff, as well. 

You can retain your valued employees if you practice these ten tips in your workplace. You’ll keep your best.

Source:  SUSAN M. HEATHFIELD - <https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-ways-to-retain-your-great-employees-1919038> Accessed 13th Feb 2019
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Marketing can be incredibly expensive. In fact, for many startups, after initial investment and any payroll obligations, marketing campaigns can easily be the most expensive part of your business. If you’re a rookie entrepreneur (heck, even if you’re a veteran entrepreneur), you may feel enticed to blast news and advertisements about your new company and its products through every marketing channel you can, across every demographic available. And, when someone asks you why you’re advertising so broadly — citing concepts like marketing segmentation, customer profiles, and Cost of Conversion (CoC) — you might be inclined to respond with, “It’s okay; we’re building brand awareness.”

If this is you, I’m sorry to tell you but the term “building awareness” wasn’t meant to be the catch-all justification of wasteful marketing spending. A brand awareness strategy has just as many tactical elements as any marketing segmentation strategy. 

Don’t “Spray and Pray” 

There are so many ways to get out news about your new business these days that, instead of picking the best fit for your product or service, choosing “all of the above” can sure makes things easier.  Unfortunately, it can also really make things expensive!

If you’re trying to convert potential customers into actual customers using the fewest marketing dollars possible, then you should be focusing on building a profile of who your customer is, where they shop, what motivates them, what marketing channels reach them, and when they consume media you can advertise in. Don’t be afraid to conduct a market analysis, even an informal one, to gain more insight. The more of these questions you can answer, the more precise you can be with your advertising, and the fewer advertising mediums where you’ll need to purchase ad space. Sure, expenses of a business include marketing and advertising, but why spray marketing money all over creation when you can spend it to reach your best potential customers. You might also consider the Chamber of Commerce membership benefits for small business. Locally targeted marketing opportunities and resources are a great way to increase your reach without breaking the bank.

When Building Brand Awareness Makes Cents

During my time as a CEO, I’ve been told that the number of “touches” or interactions required for a potential customer to even consider incorporating your product into their life is somewhere between 7 and 20. Now whether that number was the product of legitimate research on consumers, or a marketer selling “touches,” is hard to say. But what’s easy to see is that it takes a lot of advertising to reach those touch numbers.

Awareness building is a natural byproduct of many advertising campaigns, but it can also be something you strategically leverage. An example of this is advertising before your prime selling season comes up.

However, if we started running our ads during that time frame alone, many small business owners might be unsure about who we are since they would have never heard of us before. By advertising in advance, we ensure that we’re a familiar name when they enter that point in the year when they’re thinking about switching to, or trying out, a product like ours. It’s the old “hey, I know them, I should try that” technique. Consultants and agencies know to that you need to properly position yourself before launching any campaigns for building your business.

Simply put, when you build brand awareness before a more segmented and focused marketing campaign, you can increase that campaign’s efficacy. Create a business budget with these awareness concepts in mind.

Don’t Forget About PR 

One of the best ways to get nearly free advertising — advertising which is both an effective form of awareness-building and conversion — is to invest in public relations efforts. Sadly, many entrepreneurs go about public relations all wrong.

Members of the media are tasked with presenting new and noteworthy developments to their, or their employer’s, readership. Every entrepreneur thinks their new startup is newsworthy. And of course it’s interesting—it’s your business! However, entrepreneurs looking for publicity are biased. Heck, even if you’re not, you’ll sound like you are to a reporter who has heard a zillion pitches just like yours.

Not every reporter is going to find your business as fascinating and cutting edge as you do, so spamming them to take notice and validate your arrival is a serious misstep as it not only relegates your requests to a trash can but it relegates you to a block list.

To have success in the PR game, think about the reporter you’re pitching, what they cover, and who their readership is. When you pitch, don’t tell them the things you find unique and interesting things about your company; tell them what is interesting and relevant in relation to the topics they cover. Support your claims with numbers and examples and, if possible, supply multiple angles that make your news more engaging. The more interesting and appealing you can make your company to a reporter’s readership, the more relevant your company will be to that reporter.

If your first pitch gets no response, that’s not a reason to stop pitching. Members of the media wake up to boxes stuffed with pitches like yours every day. Your pitch may be excellent, but, the sheer volume of demand, especially for more prominent members of the media means there will be more rejects and silence than success. Even so, stay persistent!  PR is advertising, building your brand, and an endorsement all rolled into one. And for the price—typically free—it’s worth it.

Source: Mike Kappel - <https://smallbusiness.patriotsoftware.com/building-brand-awareness-vs-marketing/> Accessed 10th Feb 2019
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