Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘communication’

 

Several business people wander through a maze looking for a job

When I published the article “You’re hired!”…and it took me a year, I had no idea that I would be looking for work three years later.  Back then, I had just concluded an intensive search after my position in a stable, global financial institution was abolished, ending a successful career that progressed nicely over 16 years.

When I accepted the offer for a permanent full-time position the following year, it was not quite the dream job I was looking for, but I was convinced, and still am, that I was forging a new path to take me to the next level.  In fact, I deliberately disrupted myself.  It was a newly created job with the mandate to develop and deliver a marketing strategy for products I had never marketed before.

Two years in, there were budget and staff cutbacks.  I sub-consciously knew that the time to move on was fast approaching.   Last summer, my position was eliminated.

Although it’s cold comfort, I realize that I am not alone.  I’ve met many mid- and advanced-career professionals on the job search trail.  I see the struggles to remain positive, diffuse anxiety and stay the course.  My career transition experience has given me some insights on stumbling blocks that can potentially derail a job search and how to avoid them.

  1. Other people’s stories are theirs, not yours

During my networking, I’ve met many people who’ve “been there, done that” and they tell their stories of how they got through it.  The Winners, who took only 2 to 4 months to land on their feet; the Whiners who give very detailed explanations as to why they won’t ever get hired (age…, conspiring former bosses and colleagues…, no one hires in summer… etc.) and the Copped-Out & Lucked-Out who boast about the luxury of being able to retire early so they avoid looking for a job.

Then there are those who haven’t “been there.” They have never lost their jobs.  They are really Secretly Scared that this could happen to them, while they hint that they pity you and don’t envy you.  There are also the Helpers and Hinters who in an awkward effort to provide good advice, actually end up saying exactly what you don’t need to hear (“You’re doing something wrong, otherwise it wouldn’t take so long…”) or they send you job postings that are no match for your skills and experience.

It’s so easy to buy-in to other people’s stories.  Comparing your experience with other people’s stories is a waste of time and energy.  The truth is you need to own your story.

Instead of trying to explain your story, make a commitment to yourself to be clear on what’s best for you.  Only you can make sense of your life’s journey.  Only you really know the things that motivate you and ultimately matter to you.  Very few people will understand your story.  Most people are trying to figure out their own story and others don’t have the time or are not really interested in listening to yours.

The temptation to set low expectations and settle for less becomes real when you compare yourself with other people. It takes courage to say “no” to seemingly good opportunities in order to say “yes” to the very best.  You are not a loser if you haven’t found a job within a given timeframe or if you made it to the final interview but didn’t get the job.

Even if you don’t have the financial independence to prolong your search, if you accept a position out of necessity, remind yourself that you can work while continuing to search for your dream job.

  1. The corporate ladder is an obsolete metaphor

Job seekers, who have progressed over many years in one company, tend to be overly concerned with titles, organizational structures and status.  In most progressive organizations today, dotted lines, flat organizational structures and collaborative team environments are the norm.

I agree that people should look for challenging work that fits their experience and expertise.  But looking for a job with a title that fits into the next step on the corporate ladder can prevent you from finding enriching opportunities for meaningful work that expand your talents and capabilities.

The truth is that we are living in a new corporate world order where the corporate ladder is fast becoming an obsolete metaphor.

Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, encourages professionals to forget the corporate ladder and consider careers in terms of a jungle gym. You can venture down different paths and explore numerous possibilities on the way to achieving your goals, just like trying to climb to the top of a jungle gym.  It took me quite some time to get this during my career transition four years ago.  I am glad I did, as I ended up finding an interesting opportunity which has broadened my experience not only professionally, but in my volunteer work and social life.

  1. Being stuck really sucks!

Following on my two earlier points, getting stuck can happen very easily if you can’t define what you want or if your definition of what you want doesn’t fit in the new corporate world order or with your values.

I’ve come across a few people who are stuck within a destructive ‘my way or the highway’ mindset, hanging on to what was and what will never be, taking job loss personally and feeling victimized.  When corporate priorities change, it so happens that some jobs are no longer needed. That’s why no one should take a layoff personally.

I know that it can be a drag to be out of work and pounding the pavement can be tough.  But here’s the upside:  going through a career transition can be the best opportunity to reorient a career.  On reflection, many people thank their lucky stars that they had the chance to move on, rather than stay stuck in a career that was no longer meaningful.

Most successful careers rarely ever follow a smooth, upward north-eastern trajectory.  Compromises and disruptions do occur along the way.  The truth is that compromises can be beneficial.

Speaking from my own experience, the job with a lower salary with less formal influence may just be what you need to gain more relevant experience in a changing world, while applying your past experience in a way that is beneficial to the organization and to your career in the long run.

 

Take ownership and responsibility for your career transition

The world is waiting to embrace talent and you have a fair shot to offer yours. Don’t let people, old ideas or a closed mind derail your job search.  The power to shape the future resides within each of us. That’s why it is important for every job seeker to take ownership of their career transition.

When you can clearly articulate to potential employers, who you really are and why you care, they will see that the value you bring to their organization is far greater than what you know and what they expect you to do.  This sets the stage for you to find meaningful work and for your future employer see you as a true partner, stakeholder and contributor to the organization’s success.

 

You may find the following articles helpful –

Career mistakes you must avoid@Deepak Chopra MD (Official)

Forget the Ladder; Try the Jungle Gym: What Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Says You Can Do for Your Career Right Now – Maggie Malon

It’s called a life, not a life sentence!  How to move forward when you’re feeling stuck@Michaela Alexis

 

Camille N. Isaacs Morell is a proven marketing strategy and business development enabler. She is passionate about inspiring people to make decisions that support business success.  

She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of enterprises and non-profit organizations with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

See the BIG picture…Focus on what’s important

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

Read Full Post »

Delegate-741x480

“Check, double check and check again.”   This was possibly the best advice I received early in my career.

I followed through on my boss’ advice. I believe that this was the reason why it was noted on my performance evaluation that I was action-oriented and reliable without supervision.

In later years I realized that the checking, double checking and checking again advice wasn’t going to work for me or for the people I was leading.

During my very first role as a people manager, I understood that there is a fine line between being an effective leader and being a micro-manager.

Effective leaders know that they are ultimately accountable for the mandate that they have been given to deliver through the people they lead.

Micro-managers, in their zeal to produce results, get overly involved in the work of the people they lead.  These managers don’t confidently delegate and set expectations.  And when they do, they obsessively check, double check and check again on the work of their people, instead of letting their people, who are responsible for operations, implementation and deliverables, do the required checking.

I believe that micro-managers act the way they do mainly for the following reasons –

  • The fear of failure, which leads to the need to control other people’s actions
  • They don’t know how to manage any other way
  • They have an “agenda,” a personal need they want to fulfill

Here are 3 tips on how managers can avoid micro-managing, or can take to stop micro-managing and 3 tips on how employees can avoid being micro-managed.

 

The fear of failure and the need to control

For the manager –

  1. Gain clarity on the mandate you’ve been given. This means –
    • Identify the resources required – hire the right, competent people, ask for budgets
    • Set realistic expectations with your senior leadership and the people you lead on deliverables
    • Establish a formal schedule of checkpoints and accountabilities

For those being managed –

  1. Communicate confidentially with your manager to uncover the root cause of the fear of failure. This means –
    • Reassure your manager of your commitment and that you have his/her back
    • Mutually agree on how you will be accountable

 

Not knowing how to manage any other way

For the manager –

  1. Be courageous. Take feedback from your people and other managers seriously and seek ways to improve the situation.  This means –
    • Seeking mentorship and coaching from experienced, respected professionals you trust and who can help you to develop an effective leadership style.
    • Open communication in a dedicated forum (e.g. team meeting, off-site retreat) to discuss the mandated goals of the team and how team members will be empowered, engaged and held accountable.

For those being managed –

  1. Reduce your manager’s need to micro-manage. This means –
    • Proactively support your manager by honouring reporting commitments
    • Avoid surprises by forewarning your manager of possible delays and problems, and coming with suggestions for precautionary, preventive or risk reduction actions

 

The personal agenda or need the manager wants to fulfill

For the manager –

  1. Empowerment and accountability are essential for leadership success, regardless of what your personal agenda or motivation may be. Remember –
    • The mark of a great leader is the capacity to inspire and work with and through other people to achieve goals.

For those being managed –

  1. Find a way to see your manager’s “big picture” of what he or she is working towards. Observe and ask yourself a few questions –
    • What’s his or her motivation?
    • Who does he or she network with?
    • What’s his/her vision of the future role of the department or his/her leadership?

 

Important considerations

Managing people is not for everybody.  Managers who find it difficult to delegate and are caught in the micro-management trap should consider alternative leadership roles, such as an internal consultant, technical expert or advisor, and make an outstanding contribution to corporate objectives.

Moving on is an option for employees who are being micro-managed.   If excessive time and effort have to be invested in trying to understand and work with a micro-manager to the detriment of job satisfaction, engagement and optimal performance, the employee should decide whether to stay or to leave.

 

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

Read Full Post »

Winning

Think win-win is one of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I remember reading Covey’s book several years ago and feeling challenged and overwhelmed as I thought of how I could possibly practice this habit in the ego-centric competitive corporate culture of the company where I worked at that time.

But a strange thing happened yesterday at work. Even though I set out to fight for my right to be right, I won, and so did everybody else!

I was working against a fairly tight timeline to launch a multi-media communications plan for one of my internal clients. As it turned out, I provided a hurriedly prepared brief for an external designer who then prepared advertisements that did not quite meet the expectations of the guardians of the company’s brand.  I must admit that the designer informed me that some of my design requests were not ‘on-brand.’ The ads were acceptable, I thought, but time and money were at stake so I hurriedly approved the ads.  Bad decision.

Then yesterday, I received a meeting invitation from the brand guardian to discuss the project. I remember clicking on the accept button with some amount of fear and trepidation.  Fear of getting my wrist slapped for being ‘off-brand’ – not respecting the brand guidelines – and filled with trepidation of having to tell my internal client that I would have to spend more money from his budget to get the ads re-done ‘on-brand.’

So, off I went to the meeting yesterday, with my mental boxing gloves in tow, preparing to fight for my right to be right. Crusading for the cause of time and money was my platform as I set out to win the battle of the ads!  Stepping into the meeting, I was greeted with a copy of the ‘off-brand’ ad that I approved and a few ‘on-brand’ versions created by an external design company, who had recently been briefed on the latest version of our brand guidelines.  I smiled nervously.  But it was a genuine smile.  I really did see the difference between the ‘on-‘ and the ‘off-brand’ versions of the ad.

My colleague explained that the ads I approved should really not be used as they depicted the company’s brand and image of yesteryear, a time when I wasn’t even working at the company. The sooner we stop using ‘off-brand’ ads and making exceptions because of time and cost constraints, the better it would be for the company’s image.  I had to agree.

I nevertheless launched a somewhat defensive spiel on the time and cost constraints that had led me to give a less than perfect briefing to my designer and that these constraints would make it virtually impossible for me to withdraw the ‘off-brand’ ads. “I can’t just withdraw the ads, as the work has already been done.  I have to pay the designer.  I have no extra budget to re-do the ads,” I declared. “And by the way, how much will it cost me for the work done by your external designer to create these on-brand versions?”  I thought to myself, “There is no easy way out; I’m not going to win this time!”

A quick flashback to Covey’s habits of empathetic listening and of trying to understand rather than to be understood, made me pause calmly and pay attention to what was happening in the moment. My colleague gently said that the work done by the external design company was on spec, at no cost.  The ‘on-brand’ ads were developed by the designer as a template to demonstrate how to properly apply the guidelines, and my project was being used as an example.  “Are there any other ad formats you have in this campaign that you would like to submit so that the designer may prepare some other templates?” she asked.  “It will cost you nothing.  The texts in the templates can be modified for this and future campaigns.  Your department and other departments of the company will have access to the templates and your designer can modify the templates as long as the brand guidelines are respected.”

An important turning point in the conversation was when I realized that I could get the ads re-done and at no cost. By accepting the brand guardian’s offer, I wasn’t giving up anything.  I had the opportunity to create a win-win situation for several stakeholders.

  • By agreeing to have the external design company re-do my ads, the brand guardian would be in a position to determine if the external designer was capable of delivering projects on-brand and on time.
  • My project would give the external designer an opportunity to expand business by adding our company to their roster of clients.
  • What’s more, when all the templates are finalized, the entire company will benefit from having access to a bank of advertising templates for reuse with modifications that will cost much less than having to create completely new advertisements for every project.
  • As for the cost of the work done by my designer, I consider it to be an investment in the design process.  The ads served as the point of reference for the external design company to develop the ‘on-brand’ ads.
  • As for my designer, I definitely will share the ‘on-brand’ versions of the ads and the updated brand guidelines for easy reference for my future projects.

Win-win

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

Win-win situations are all about seeing the BIG picture – the common good of all – while focusing on what’s important – building healthy, functional relationships through listening and addressing the needs and concerns of others.

Visit my website:  www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

Read Full Post »

chiefMarketing

A few years ago, the AV-P, product development in the company where I worked, explained the role of his marketing colleagues to newly recruited employees: “Once we’ve developed the product specs, we let our marketing colleagues make them look nice.” He repeated this statement twice. As horrified as I was when I heard this, I took some cold comfort in the fact that the AV-P’s comment showed a marginally improved understanding of marketing’s role than one of his colleagues, a Senior V-P.  The SV-P questioned the need for the development of marketing collateral material or any marketing communications plan to support a soon-to-be launched product.  His view was that all the information the prospective client needed was in the mutual fund prospectus!

True it is that both V-Ps were actuaries, members of a profession not reputed to have any great understanding of marketing and the role it ought to play in business success. However, marketing communications professionals must share much of the blame for being perceived as the people who “put the lipstick on the pig.”

Marcomms professionals very often accept that it is par for the course for them to be brought in at the very end of the product development cycle to deliver a marketing plan under tight deadlines for the product launch. At this point, marketing strategies are developed under very hurried circumstances and with limited information and understanding of the product and the clients whose needs are to be met. This explains in large part, why marketing communications campaigns are perceived in many organizations as wasted effort without any proven ROI.

From my own experience and observation, marketing professionals have not done a good job of demonstrating the value they can bring to the product development process. This is particularly true in organizations where product development requires specific technical skills (e.g. actuarial sciences, risk assessment, engineering).  The development of effective marketing strategies and supporting communications plans requires a deep understanding of the competitive environment, the needs and characteristics of target clients, and the connections between corporate, business and marketing strategies of the organization. The integration of this information contributes to the development of product and service solutions with attributes that are relevant, important and are valued by the potential client. By being involved in the product development process, marketing professionals should be well placed to match product attributes and benefits to known customer needs, develop value propositions, articulate key messages, determine appropriate media channels to reach out to target client groups.  These are essential building blocks in defining the marketing communications strategy and implementation plan that create engagement and predisposition to purchase.

All of this requires marketing  professionals to go beyond the limits of creative copy writing skills and the know-how to apply brand guidelines – as important as these skills are – and embrace adjacent skills and knowledge including market research, data analytics, strategic planning, product knowledge and business acumen.

Armed with these skills, marketing professionals will likely gain credibility among their peers in the product development and corporate functions. It is up to marketers to promote the need for their early presence and involvement in the product development and strategic planning processes. Chances are that the CEO and executive leadership are not trained in marketing and much work needs to be done to educate and influence them on the critical role marketing must play in business success.

In my experience, being able to speak the same language as the CEO, CFO and SMEs has been effective in helping marketing gain in-roads to actively participate in strategic planning meetings and in product development working sessions.

  • In one case, using financial data and brand awareness metrics to demonstrate the eventual, adverse impact on revenues resulting from poorly funded advertising and marketing programmes, convinced the CFO that his team had to include Marketing in its strategic planning meetings.
  • In another case, the presentation of data on emerging market demand halted the launch of a new product, so that market research could be done to validate client profiles and test value propositions. The resulting information was used jointly by Product Development and Marketing Communications teams to adjust product specs in line with client needs.

In both cases better marketing communication strategies were developed and implemented with the right key messages, media channels and on-going engagement tactics. The resulting brand awareness and product satisfaction scores were favourable.

The following quote from management guru Peter Drucker sums up the role of marketing in business and the need for collaboration in the product development process:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

Read Full Post »

I could have high-fived everyone in sight as I walked away from a career that lasted 16 years in a stable, global financial institution.  After being promoted five times, to five different areas in the company, my senior management position was abolished as my key responsibilities were centralized to the company’s global head office.  Getting the separation package affirmed my own conviction in the previous two years it was time to forge a new career path.

The nearly twelve months it took me to accept a job offer for permanent, full-time work, proved to be an enriching journey, filled with new experiences.  Most importantly, the experiences changed some of my commonly-held beliefs that have been ingrained in the minds of many mid-career and senior executives.

  • Pay attention.  Be prepared to change direction. 

When you’ve done all you can do and what is right, and stuff happens, it’s usually a good sign!  You’re being led in a better (read: different) direction, and it’s all good.

During my job search, I did all the right things.  I built a data base of all my skills and experiences, from which I customized my CV for specific job opportunities.  I optimized my social media presence by expanding my LinkedIn connections, networking on-line and off-line, writing blogs, tweeting.  I actively engaged in volunteer work, explored opportunities in my home town and out of town, etc, etc, etc….  but after seven months, the doors closed on several very good leads, in each case for reasons beyond my control.   The appointment of a new vice-president who needed to rethink the structure of the department, unforeseen budget cuts, corporate policies that gave preference to the internal candidate – these were some of the show stoppers.

When I realized that I had exhausted opportunities in the companies I targeted, I made the decision to change my direction and explore new possibilities.  Free-lance consulting and a change of industry were two, new options I decided to explore.  When I began to invest most of my efforts in these options, I was amazed at how quickly consulting opportunities began to materialize and as did invitations to job interviews in companies I had not previously considered.

  •  “Titles are inevitable, and they’re even respected, but they’re merely a credential”

In the words of Mike Lipkin, “Hierarchy is so boomer. The new reality is about heterarchy – where leaders and followers are interchangeable depending on circumstances.”

Job seekers who like myself have climbed the corporate ladder over many years in one company, tend to be overly concerned with titles, organizational structures and status.   While I agree that we should look for challenging work that fits our experience and expertise, the truth is, the corporate ladder is an obsolete metaphor.  In most progressive organizations, dotted lines and flat organizational structures give way to the optimal use of talent in collaborative team environments.  This is where there are many open doors providing new and enriching opportunities for people wanting to do meaningful work.

  • Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated.

Like most job seekers, I faced a several disappointing rejections.  What I have come to realize, is that when faced with unemployment over an extended period of time, there was the temptation to talk myself into situations that were not the right fit, even though I had the qualifications and experience for the job.  I had to remind myself a few times, that in order to flourish, I need to be in an environment conducive to my personal growth and enrichment.  Finding the right fit required the clear definition and uncompromising commitment to my values and life objectives.

  • Networking is not just for job-seekers.

The best career outlook in any organization can be randomly and suddenly taken away through restructurings, mergers, acquisitions and divestures that are regular features of the corporate landscape.  No one in the workforce can take job security for granted.

My biggest take-away from my job search is that it’s up to each person to continuously develop skills in marketing themselves and building networks – gainfully employed or not.  The world of work has changed and will continue to change.  Self-motivation and the ability to recognize opportunity in changing circumstances are essential.  Building a strong network of professional, community and social contacts is the key to getting a job, managing your career and making a career transition when the job is no longer there.

See the big picture.  Focus on what’s important.  www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

Read Full Post »

In an earlier post, I highlighted the need for departments to work together to make organizational change effective.  No one would object to this.  But the notion that there could be synergies when Marketing and HR work together seems counter intuitive.

Marketing involves identifying and meeting wants and needs of people.  To do this, marketers need to be up on the latest trends, creative, adaptive and strategic.  They’re seen as always having fun, standing in the spotlight and having the ear of senior executives.  On the other hand, HR involves the development of strategies, policies and programmes to manage people and promote a healthy corporate culture.  HR practitioners aren’t often seated at the senior executives’ table.  The perception is that HR is always on the receiving end of instructions from upper management to hire, fire, manage performance and deliver those training programmes which are the first on the chopping block when budgets are cut.  If you really believe this, you would say that HR and Marketing are polar opposites!

Before the objections start to pour in, let me point out that although their mandates are different, Marketing and HR Departments do share similar and very important roles – that is, getting people to do what is best for the company – whether they are clients, prospects, the general public or employees.  More specifically, Marketing and HR departments

  • are involved in incentivizing people,
  • reinforce consistent messages,
  • measure engagement,
  • provide proof of a value proposition, and
  • undertake activities that impact the delivery of the corporation’s strategy.

So, why is it important for both Marketing and HR to work together?  The answer is simple.  Employees are the key to business success.

Marketing develops and manages the business brand to create awareness of products and services, build on-going customer loyalty and contribute to business success. It’s the employees who represent the company and its products and services to customers and as such, they influence customer loyalty and business success. To ensure that employees understand what the business brand stands for and enthusiastically promote it, Marketing and HR must work together to ensure that employees are equipped to deliver the business brand promise to customers.

Some specific areas of Marketing and HR collaboration can be:

  • Recruitment and on-boarding activities – should reinforce consistent messages and provide proof of the corporation’s value proposition to employees and clients

 

Meaningful connections between the values of the corporation and the values of target recruits ought to be consistently communicated in recruitment advertising and bring these values to life in on-boarding and on-going organizational development activities.  Marketing should to be in a position to provide insights and research on the values of demographic groups the organization hopes to attract as potential employees and the reasons why they are likely to be a good fit.   As well, Marketing should be able to provide HR with guidance to select the right media, position employee and recruitment messages, adopt the appropriate style of communication and select the call to action channels that are appropriate for the target audiences.

  • Performance management, training, recognition and reward programmes – incentivize employees and impact the delivery of the corporate strategy

It is important for Marketing and HR to ensure agreement on the resources, skills and behaviours that support the delivery of the business brand and corporate strategy.  Real inputs that Marketing can provide HR include customer research and feedback on specific areas of interaction such as service, communication, in-store experience, loyalty programmes etc.  HR and Marketing can jointly identify what matters most to clients and determine the required skills and content of training programmes to support employees in the fulfilment of client needs in ways that reflect the business brand promise and achieve the corporate strategy objectives.

  • Cross-referencing employee metrics and marketing metrics – measuring engagement of employees and customers/target customers

Both HR and Marketing use surveys to measure engagement albeit of different groups – employees, in the case of HR and customers /target customers in the case of Marketing.  It has been proven that employee engagement directly impacts customer satisfaction and financial performance.  High levels of employee engagement correspond to increases in customer engagement levels – even when there is no direct customer contact.  More specifically, the quality of product development and the creation of the corporate reputation are the outcomes of employee engagement and ultimately influence customer satisfaction.  By cross-referencing results of customer and employee engagement surveys, HR and Marketing can identify areas in the company and/or customer segments for improvement and potential solutions to address the challenges.

Make it happen!

Aligning the efforts of Marketing and HR in the areas cited above begins corporate senior leadership recognizing that business success is wholly dependent on their employees’ capacity to deliver on the company’s brand promise.

When identifying areas of cooperation, it is essential for Marketing and HR to look beyond departmental objectives and focus on aligning their roles and efforts in relation to corporate business strategies and objectives.

Once the areas of cooperation and alignment of roles have been identified, both departments need to create forums for collaboration and communication comprised of persons with the expertise required to do the work.

 

This blog was written for Your Workplace and published on 11 March, 2013.

 

Read Full Post »

Engaging clients and prospects through sponsorships and social media

It is that time of the year again.  It’s summer in Canada and the noisy parade of festivals and concerts fills our cities from June to September.  Montreal, of course, leads the list.  Corporate Canada competes for high profile visibility through key sponsorships of these events.  Event organizers have been on the prowl for big corporate dollars since the end of summer last year.  Now, they are working hard to secure last minute deals offering potential sponsors who are late in the game, promises of heightened visibility and popularity for their brands.  Every inch of banner space comes at a cost.

Marketers, especially brand managers, argue with CFOs and other executives in non-marketing positions that there is virtue and value in spending top dollars to be a major sponsor of these high-profile events.  After all, this is a way of building brand awareness among prospects, engaging existing clients and getting them to do more business and add to the bottom line.  In the minds of those closest to the financial planning process, there is no tangible proof that investing in sponsorships provides a healthy ROI.

Conventional marketing wisdom tells us that sponsorships and mass advertising of events patronized by target client segments, tends to build brand awareness and pre-disposes potential clients to give positive consideration to purchase products with the brand name.  Now with the emergence and influence of social media, “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” are commonplace on advertisements.  But have these tactics supported business development?   Debates rage on about how to calculate the ROI of investing in advertising.  In my opinion, marketers and their corporate colleagues need to go beyond tactics and see the BIG picture.

The BIG picture

Access to information in various formats and through diverse channels offers the potential to influence and create engagement and new business opportunities.  But consumers want more than information, and marketers and salespeople need to do more than just engage audiences.  The “more” is all about building relationships based on authenticity and trust.  Information and transparent communication from easily accessed sources builds trust and demonstrates authenticity, which sets the stage for sales and on-going business development.  This, in my view is the BIG picture.

(And by the way, consumers have the means to quickly verify whether companies are being authentic and are worthy of consumers’ trust.  We’re all aware of the social media disasters of McDonalds, Chrysler and Qantas.)

Information can be disseminated in a nanosecond through cyberspace.  Bi-directional communication, between consumers and suppliers is possible through social media.  ‘De-virtualizing’ social media contacts and interactions can be achieved through sponsorships and experiential marketing.  The challenge that companies face, is how to bridge the gaps between information, communication and relationships so that engagement and trust are established and which ultimately result in new business from prospects and a larger share of wallet from clients.  Consider the following important points that your company can focus on:

Build your social media community first.  Identify social media platforms where your existing and potential clients interact.  Participate in and contribute to social media forums on topics related to your business or to your community involvement, which are of interest to your target clientele.  Become an influencer.  Be seen as a major player in your field.  In this way your company and brand gain credibility and authenticity, and more people who will like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and more importantly, recommend you to their networks.

Partner with organizations you sponsor, not just the events sponsored by organizations.  The key to success is selecting organizations whose clientele, public reach and influence are similar to your target clientele.  By establishing continuous visibility and alignment with the organizations whose events you sponsor, the frequency and depth of contact with potential clients creates trust in your brand and sets the stage for business development.

Be interactive, not only visible at sponsored events.  Whether you’re handing out promotional items that are thrown away or hardly ever used, investing in a beautifully crafted banner with your company’s logo or drowning your logo in a sea of other logos from co-sponsors, your company may well be wasting financial and human resources.  Don’t get me wrong, all of these tactics have their place and can be quite effective when coupled with opportunities to interact with your target audiences at sponsored events.  Invest in sponsorships that allow your company to showcase its products and expertise in a way that makes your brand visible and credible and offers the opportunity to be in direct contact with your target audience.  Is there a hospitality suite to which you can invite existing and potential clients, distributors, suppliers and influencers?  If so, take advantage of this opportunity to build relationships. Make sure also, that you have the buy-in and on-site involvement of your business development people if the sponsorship will support sales and new business.

Always have a way to continue your conversation and interaction.  Harvesting contact information from people attending promotional events, participating in contests, making inquiries etc., is a good way of creating engagement and interest and increases the chances of new business from prospects and more business from existing clients.  Identifying the profiles of your contacts, segmenting and interacting with them in an appropriate communication style and with content relevant to their needs are essential to success.

A final word

Securing on-going budgetary support and commitment from the CFO and other non-marketing executives for sponsorships and social media programmes requires marketers to identify and optimize opportunities for business development.  The effective tracking of prospecting and business development opportunities from these programmes must be a component of all sponsorship and social media activities that may well provide some encouraging, if not impressive ROI results.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

Read Full Post »