Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Solving Complex Challenges through B2B Customer Experience

customer experience challenge

“Our customer experience team really wants to make systemic and strategic changes that span the company, so we only tackle situations that our normal business-as-usual processes are not normally suited to tackle. Those tend to be situations that span multiple parts of the company, span multiple processes, and where there is no one that is holistically looking at a problem, that’s where our customer experience team steps in.”

Take a page from VMware’s playbook. In my 2015 Customer Experience Transformation talk show with Eric Wansong, VMware’s Vice President of Customer Advocacy, he explained how his team adds strategic value across all company departments. “To warrant the investment that the company is putting in our team, we need to be doing significant things to change the company, and to do significant things you have to involve multiple parts of the company, you have to create a collaborative situation to solve complex opportunities.”

Transformations this team has brokered within three short years include changes to their software development cycle, structure of R&D teams, and new product development positions focused on human factors and user experience (novel approaches for the company). Eric explained: “Behavioral change needs to first happen within. Prove yourself first, and that will ultimately improve the customer experience. You’ve just got to get to the root of a problem and it’s often very deep in the organization and not on the veneer. Only changing or improving the veneer that surrounds the company is a pretty fragile approach.”

My commentary: This is a departure from prevalent practices of many companies’ focus on changing customers’ behavior and on optimizing customer touch-points and customer-facing staff. VMware’s practices are a more strategic type of customer experience transformation relative to the typical one-by-one follow-up with customers who gave low survey ratings and single departments chipping away at voice-of-the-customer insights they unilaterally control. VMware does that, too, but the focus is on cross-functional transformation. While rare in today’s mainstream customer experience management practices, VMware’s approach is shared by several other companies. These firms comprised the best-practice profile in the four-year study conducted by ClearAction. Note: systemic means holistic, whereas systematic means step-by-step. Both are needed in customer experience management in order to produce sustained growth.

A major driver of VMware’s customer experience methodology is the fact that customers now own more than one product across the VMware portfolio of solutions. “Now as customer’s use cases span multiple VMware products, their desires of us are not just functionally-oriented but they are becoming more experience-oriented.”

Cascading Sponsorship & Action

“If you ask any leader here at VMware what they could do better, they probably have a list as long as their arm. There are time constraints, resource constraints, and financial constraints, so which ones do you tackle first? The biggest value that my team brings is saying ‘Here are the top two or three things that, if improved, would move the needle the most for our customers. Contextual information about the voice-of-the-customer helps to prioritize people’s thinking to change how programs are funded and resourced, and how projects are prioritized in response to that customer feedback.”

My commentary: Adding context to customer feedback ideally includes both internal and external data about what was going on in your operations and with competitors and other forces that preceded or accompanied customers’ perceptions. One of the best ways to do this is to present line graphs over time and super-impose contextual data on top of the customer feedback data. Percentages will be more compelling than averages because managers are motivated by seeing the size of their business that is at-risk or otherwise growing.

“After our analysis of our semi-annual relationship survey, the very first thing we do is we read out to our CEO and his leadership team. Then, based on the top drivers, we go out into the organization to the next level of leadership. We relay what was communicated to our executives, and we go into further levels of detail. Then we expand to every group within the company. So it is a cascade of information, and it typically takes about two months from the time the analysis is done.”

My commentary: A roadshow is a great way to build shared interpretations of customer insights. Cross-functional action planning workshops are one of the most powerful things you can do to inject customer-centricity into your culture, and simultaneously broker significant changes that your whole customer base will reward. After the first two or three roadshows you can train and coach people within each organization to conduct their own presentation as if you were there, in addition to driving progress within throughout the year.

“We’ve been doing this for close to three years now. First, we had to earn the trust and confidence of the executives that what we are doing is trustworthy and credible. Everything must be evidence based. Prioritizing top customer drivers of satisfaction and loyalty is key, keeps the company focused. Makes action planning easier. We often must bring disparate parts of the company together, for meaningful and systemic change to happen.”

My commentary: Prevention of issue recurrence is the best way to drive customer experience ROI. Recurring issues are costly for many reasons: as your customer base grows so does your servicing of these same old issues, they take a toll on employee productivity and satisfaction, and they erode customers’ trust and the hard work of your branding team, and they incur great remedial expenses by marketing and service in attempts to make up for what should have been done right the first time.

“This job and this organization is a privilege. VMware existed before our team was in place, and did very well. We are evidence of VMware’s commitment to continuous improvement and the growing importance of the customer experience. But, we must smartly use the money that’s being invested in this team by delivering value that is not already being delivered by another part of the company. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be a good user of corporate resources. Therefore, we uniquely solve complex, multi-faceted issues that require cross-company collaboration and coordination.”

Image licensed to ClearAction by Shutterstock.

Source: B2C

You Can Create Successful Digital Content With a Limited Budget — Here’s How We Did It

This is a Facebook ad I helped create for one of our clients.

An example of a Facebook ad

That’s actually Scott Patten, our VP of Strategy, in the photo. It’s funny how little you actually have to do to make a clean-looking ad. For us, we needed the product, a model, some iPhone photos, and wizardry in the photoshop effects department to create that ad. What we saw was that people want less of the unattainable outdoor lifestyle and more of what they typically see out on their own adventures. Here were the results:

Results of ad

The flashy, stylized shots work too, like this ad I also had a part in making.

Example of ad

My point is not that one side is better than the other. No, it’s that companies need to realize something about this new digital age and the people they’re trying to sell to: sometimes, just sometimes people want to see more content that mimics something they might see — or produce — in their everyday life. I’m seeing it everywhere: magazine cover-esque shots, impossibly clean gear, and UV filters. My life definitely doesn’t look like that. I’ve got a hole in my Osprey pack from when mice decided to raid my Cliff bar stash, my boots have pretty hefty sweat stains, and I typically leave foundation (the cosmetic kind) off my backpacking checklist. But that’s just me.

My overall experience in following these outdoor brands has led me to adopt these three guiding principles when marketing for outdoor brands:

  1. Approachability Over Prestige

  2. Utility Over Style

  3. Means Over Dreams

Diving into the first principle…

Approachability Over Prestige

Again, there’s nothing wrong with making your product look epic, but that’s not all it’s good for.

It’s all some companies ever do, though, and it’s frustrating for few reasons:

1. I feel too intimidated to interact with the product.

2. I feel like I’ll never get to the level of expert you’re looking for.

In fact, most people will only end up using your waterproof jacket or boots when the forecast shows rain tomorrow, so what use is it making your product solely for one buyer? My climbing backpack doubles as my work pack because I’d rather not spend the money on two packs, and it has all the features I’d want for both activities – even if it does smell a little funky…¯_(ツ)_/¯

When Patagonia rolled out their High Alpine Kit, they could’ve easily gone the route of making it out to be just for mountaineers. See for yourself.

Now, I still won’t buy the entire alpine kit, because I wouldn’t use it all, but Patagonia doesn’t require you buy the full kit. If you just want the sleeping bag, you can do that. And if you just want the base layer, you can snag that too. Here’s the moral of the story: Patagonia took a product that could’ve easily been reserved for only the most intense outdoorsmen and made it accessible to their entire audience base. Think about your own line of products and how you might be able to break out aspects of them to different audiences.

Utility Over Style

I get it. You’re hung up on how good or cool or sleek your product looks — but that’ll only last your consumer maybe one or two uses before a tear or stain shows up. They’re using it in the outdoors, after all. I would hardly recognize most of my gear if it was put up right next to its brand-new counterparts.

Here’s where Arc’teryx comes in clutch. How do you showcase every intended, and unintended, use of your product without actually doing it yourself? You go to your customers. What a brilliant idea, right? Here’s the execution:

Example of Arc’teryx website

While the rest of the world slaves away at incorporating technology to show how a product will look on a potential customer, Arc’teryx took a simple Instagram plug-in and showcased the many places you might take their jackets.

The reality is that you can’t predict every use your customer base might find with a product, but integrating something like photos of real customers using your gear helps a little in that department. It’s a win-win for both you and the customer, and that’s the goal after all, right?

Means Over Dreams

We didn’t originally have the budget to produce this kind of content. Instead, we took a long, hard look at how we were allocating those dollars and cut out areas we felt were out of alignment with the client’s goals. Instead of hiring expense-heavy talent, we took our in-house crew. Lucky for us, we had a team of people who loved the outdoors and owned some nice-ish DSLRs.

Point: You don’t need a studio or photographer to get the shots you’re looking for.

We planned staff retreats to trails far north — because who wouldn’t want a free trip out of the Arizona heat? We made time in the office to take shots of products for upcoming campaigns by using the floorspace in our office.

Author Tyler Norris taking photos

Did we naively think we could re-create some of the work that The North Face and Salomon produce? Of course. Then we came back to reality, outlined the shots we wanted, and the product worked out pretty well.

It’s not impossible to get there yourself — you just to have to look at your budgets, maybe find a photog friend who’s willing to help, and find a trail. That’s it.

Source: B2C

On Ice: Michelin/Tire Rack Winter Driving Experience

On the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Winter Driving Experience: Kia Cadenza

Kia Cadenza sedans on ice. One fitted with all-season radials, the other with winter tires.

Think “winter driving school” and you might imagine yourself navigating switchbacks in the Rockies on studded tires or with all-season radials wrapped in chains. Indeed, how else might you learn whether a four-set of Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 tires will you keep you planted as you peer cautiously over the slimmest of all guard rails — the only thing separating you from a craggy precipice and an 8,000-foot vertical drop below?

Well, winter driving school can also be conducted indoors and while the experience is certainly different from outdoor programs, you can learn a lot about tire safety, including just how well winter tires work on icy roads. That’s something I learned recently when Tire Rack and Michelin teamed up to present a winter driving program on the grounds of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

And despite an unusually humid and hot September day just as summer was giving way to fall, a team of journalists managed to experience treacherous driving conditions within the chilly confines of the Compton Family Ice Arena.

No, this wasn’t “Disney on Ice,” but something entirely different — the opportunity to compare two Kia-supplied products — Sportage SUVs and Cadenza sedans — and how each vehicle operates on the ice when outfitted with either OEM all-season radials or Michelin winter tires.

Find your recommended tire for winter driving in the US and Canada.

Tire Rack Tire Distributors

But first, some context about the event. When approached by a PR representative about the experience, I realized I was very familiar with the Michelin brand, but not so much with Tire Rack. A few years back when replacing tires for both vehicles, I went with two complete sets of Michelin radials, purchased at BJs, not Tire Rack. That I could have had tires shipped directly to my home never crossed my mind. Even if it had, I’m sure I would have thought that such shipments were limited to specialty tires and wheels, but I quickly learned otherwise while in Indiana.

Tire Rack is the largest distributor of tires in the US and is also headquartered in South Bend. On the other hand, French company Michelin’s North America headquarters is located in Greenville, South Carolina, where they also manufacture some of their tires. Michelin is an important client for Tire Rack, but they also stock tires from more than two dozen other brands, including Goodyear, Bridgestone, Hankook, Continental, and Cooper, to name a few. BF Goodrich, owned by Michelin, is another Tire Rack choice.

Notre Dame Stadium and a Curling Guest

The evening before the main event, our hosts treated us to a tour of one of the most important shrines on Notre Dame’s campus — that hallowed place wasn’t the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (a tour of the basilica was held separately the next day). Instead, our hosts pushed all the right buttons and used their pull to fling open the gates of Notre Dame Stadium just for our group.

Winter Driving Experience -- Touchdown Jesus

One of the most famous of all murals,
visible from Notre Dame Stadium.

What a pleasant surprise this was for everyone present, myself included — I grew up hearing tale after tale about the Fighting Irish from my Roman Catholic family and community. Many years later and I found myself at Notre Dame, standing on the same field where such legends as Knute Rockne, Joe Theismann, Raghib Ismail and Joe Montana had coached or played.

Immediately after our time on the field, we were shepherded to the stadium’s press boxes where dinner was served. What a terrific view of the stadium, the surrounding area and of a well-known mural popularly known as “Touchdown Jesus.”

While we were still consuming our appetizers, Michelin and Tire Rack introduced a celebrity of sorts — none other than Tom Howell, a 22-year-old man from New Jersey vying to represent the US men’s curling team at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, next February.

The affable Howell shared everything about the sport, including its origin, how the game worked and explained what the screaming teammate phenomenon was about. It turns out the hollering on ice has everything to do with giving players instructions as the 42-pound stone slides across the surface with sweepers working feverishly to ensure the rock comes to a rest in its proper place.

Curling may be the the most misunderstood of all Olympic sports — the next day Howell provided us with an on-the-ice demonstration, removing much of that frozen mystery.

Winter Driving Experience: Kia Sportage

These Kia Sportage utility vehicles were also tested at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

Winter Tires or Radials?

So, do you really need winter tires where you live? That was the general question as well as the overall thrust of what was officially known as the Michelin/Tire Rack Winter Driving Experience program.

For starters, if you live in Florida, Southern California or in any place in the US that never sees snow or experiences winter conditions, then that answer is clearly no. At the same time, if you live in an area that’s regularly assaulted by winter’s fury, then the answer is yes.

But there is a huge middle ground where winter tires can still prove beneficial and that’s in locations where average temperatures fall below 44 degrees Fahrenheit. We learned that winter tires are much more than snow tires as they provide improved grip on icy roads. Ice may form at 32 degrees, but it can hang around during warmer temperatures. Hit a patch of ice on radials and you may be in trouble.

Winter Driving Experience: Michelin Man

A touch of irony: Tom Howell gives Michelin Man pointers on how to play on ice.

Contrast that with winter tires placed at all four corners and you stand a far greater chance of avoiding a dangerous spin. In all road conditions, winter tires provide shorter braking distance on a variety of winter driving surfaces, ice included.

You can thank the science of improved tread pattern design and technologies for the superior grip as well as tread compounds engineered explicitly to handle snow and ice. And unlike snow tires of years past, winter tires are fine to drive on dry surfaces and at highway speeds — just install them on all four wheels to ensure even handling and ride comfort.

On the Ice

So, driving on ice is nothing new for me, although now that I’m living in central North Carolina, ice is a relatively uncommon event. Still, when it does arrive, I know to stay home — local roads are treated, but not as well as in my native New Jersey, which is firmly in the “get winter tires” belt.

Winter Driving Experience: Tire and Wheel

Wheel and tire combinations wrapped and ready for shipment.

Driving on an ice rink was something new for me and I hadn’t been on a rink of any sort since I was young. Our multiple tests involved driving SUVs on one rink followed by sedans on the other rink. One each of the two pairs of vehicles came with OEM tires (Kumho) — specifically radials — with the other two shod with Michelin winter tires.

Through our various driving scenarios, we were able to judge for ourselves just how well (or poorly) each tire type handled in a variety of driving situations, including acceleration, braking, and cornering. Most impressive were the shorter stopping distances of the winter tires, what will prove especially helpful when driving in heavy traffic on slick wintry roads.

Notably, the front-wheel drive Cadenza equipped with radials got off to a faster start than the winter tires, then followed by significant fishtailing. Keep in mind that you are not purchasing winter tires for performance, but for driving safety. One further note: Michelin recommends rotating your tires when you swap out your radials in the fall and again in the spring when you store your set of winter tires.

Parting Thoughts

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that our South Bend adventure concluded with a trip to the Tire Rack headquarters and warehouse where we witnessed firsthand how tires are distributed. Not to mention men were on forklifts nearly everywhere — moving pallets, pulling orders and sifting through stock. Specialty wheels, including some already set within tires, are also part of that stock.

The grand finale, though was the behind-the-scenes tour and driving experience of Tire Rack’s own test track. A pair of handsome BMW 435i Gran Coupes were on hand with instructors behind each wheel. After a brief lap orientation, we enjoyed our own wheel time. Did I say the tracks were wet from soaker spray? They were, which only added to the experience. Switchbacks, slaloms and tight corners beckoned, inviting us to push each Bimmer to the limits, supplying a fitting conclusion to this Michelin/Tire Rack event.

Winter Driving Experience: Tire Rack Track

Track time on the very wet Tire Rack track.

Disclaimer: The cost of this trip was funded by Tire Rack and Michelin, who provided air transportation, food, lodging and swag.

This article was originally published by Auto Trends Magazine.

Source: B2C

The Flip Side of AI/Machine Learning

GDJ / Pixabay

Everyone in sales and marketing is jumping on the AI/Machine Learning bandwagon. Mistakenly, too many think of these technologies as the silver bullet that will enable us magically to increase engagement, increase our ability to connect with customers, and fill the ever widening gaps in quota and revenue attainment.

Every day, I see dozens, if not more articles on the power of AI/Machine Learning in sales and marketing.

What is ironic, even comical, is most of the thinking is only about sales and marketing. I get the feeling these tools are the secret discovery of sales and marketing, that give us the edge on the customer.

It’s not surprising to see this. After all, sales and marketing have a propensity to be very self centered and internally focused. It’s always so difficult to put ourselves in the customers’ shoes or behind their desk to look at things from their point of view.

But just as we see great promise in leveraging AI/Machine Learning technologies to help us in engaging customers, doesn’t it stand to reason there is a great opportunity for our customers to apply and leverage AI/Machine Learning in their buying processes?

If I were a customer, one of the first applications would be to combat the overwhelming volume and outreach inflicted on us by sales and marketing. Stated differently, my AI will block your AI. Perhaps, I can “teach” the machine to only let in a select small number of communications that are meaningful and relevant to me.

Second, I would teach my AI to be insight developers–delivering unique insight about my business, my markets, my customers, my competitors, trends, issues in the markets that impact me. It could marry our internal operational performance, our strategies, our priorities, with signals from the outside world. Perhaps not giving solutions, but helping increase our awareness to opportunities and threats to our specific functions, and our business.

Third, I would simplify my web research, when I’m looking for answers. I’d expect my machine to cull, filter, interrogate, consolidate the things most impactful to me, freeing me up to focus on the things most meaningful to me.

Fourth, I would find a way to leverage AI within our buying group, to help us more effectively align our diverse priorities, goals, agendas and manage our buying process to more successful outcomes. I’d seek to extend this capability to drive greater success at internal problem solving/project success and internal effectiveness.

If I were an entrepreneur seeking to exploit the capabilities of AI/Machine Language, I wouldn’t waste my time with sales and marketing. The market is already too crowded, too fragmented. I’d focus on creating meaningful buying tools to help our customers be more successful in their own efforts? Doesn’t seem that anyone cares about our customers ability to exploit AI/Machine Learning.

Any VC’s reading this, contact me….I’ve got a notion of a business plan/solution.

Any smart data geeks/entrepreneurs interested in attacking a greenfield space, contact me, could be an interesting ride.

Source: B2C

Giving Your Employees A Path To Retirement Is Good For Your Company

Financially Stable Employees Are More Dependable

If you want to help employees learn about their personal finances, they need to know that they could be spending too much on goods and services [they] don’t need; or make savings in critical areas.

In America alone, personal debt averages more than $130,000 per household with debt. Now that’s going to impact your business. Sometimes employees will come to work even when they’re sick because they’ve got to pay that debt back. They may unknowingly spread a bug that knocks other employees out of commission, ultimately costing your business money.

Additionally, repossessions could force your employees out of a job, which is something else that’s surely intolerable. It’s reasonable to assume there is a certain quotient of cost your business must deal with in collateral expenses which result from debt-ridden employees. This can become especially pernicious if an employee doesn’t have any retirement plans.

When they’re working for your business without any idea where they’ll ultimately end up when they can no longer work, they may quit before your investment in them matures, or develop a substance issue through psychological dissonance based on age and uncertainty.

It turns out there may be a connection between financial issues, depression, and substance abuse. If you can help cure the primary instigator here—depression—through security financially, you may end the cycle. Sometimes, you can nip things in the bud by helping employees consolidate several small loans into a single payment through a personal loan, a practice that has been more present each day. There are a lot of options, and educating employees now will help them become secure in terms of later retirement.

First Things First: Where Does Your Business Stand?

Oftentimes there isn’t a retirement solution in place with new businesses. When you start doing well, savvy employees may ask whether you offer a 401(k) plan. If you’re a small enough business, you may not be able to afford this. There are smaller retirement plans out there, you may just have to look for them.

Get this part of your operational infrastructure figured out before you start educating employees, as this helps to give them a solid path toward success. Look for a flat fee organization offering such benefits; you should be able to find one that is affordable to your business and can keep employee costs at about .5%.

Helping Employees With Debt

With this ironed out, you can help your employees get their retirement plan in order by showing them statistics pertaining to real situations. For example, did you know the average amount of savings households are able to derive is only $2,500? That’s not enough for years of retirement; an individual in this situation is going to have to bend over backwards in order to make ends meet.

When you’ve got a better plan to offer, this endears your employees to your organization, as you’ve suddenly taken on a role as a saving agent. You’ll be able to mature and even reap benefit from your investment in them as living capital. They’ll stick around much longer if there’s pay going into a 401(k), or something of the kind.

Next, you want to appraise employees of debt relief solutions. You might have a special meeting during lax times in operations where employees can choose to attend whether than being out “on the floor”, or what-have-you.

If you follow strategies like these, you may be able to help stabilize the lives your employees. This has many collateral benefits, the finest of which being a reduction in expenses sent toward filling the hole employees leave when their financial troubles impact your business.

Source: B2C

Electronic Documents Aid in Disaster Recovery

ProSmile / Pixabay

I often talk about digital transformation as a way to help businesses preserve documents and streamline processes, but the customer experience is the driving force behind the transformation. And the customer experience goes beyond daily transactions – it extends to their personal life and the ability for the business to make the customer’s life easier in any way they can.

Each day, thousands of people are affected by some form of disaster. This time, disaster hit home for me and my family. Hurricane Harvey slammed Houston hard and it deeply affected my family and friends. From our family restaurant being in the line of destruction to seeing friends and family who needed assistance from local aid organizations, it was an eye-opening experience. I realized just how big of a role digital transformation can have in improving lives and experiences.

Even in the wake of natural disasters, it’s important that people can return to some sense of normalcy quickly. Electronic documents, forms, and processes can enable organizations to help people do just that. And not only help people but help people help people.

How Organizations Can Use Electronic Documents to Aid Efforts

Disaster relief is no small effort. It takes support from aid organizations on the national and local scale and requires thousands of man hours from volunteers as well as astounding amounts of tangible goods and cash. While many organizations are prepared to handle disaster recovery on a large scale, it’s still important that they continually streamline and adjust their processes to increase their support capacity and cut down on response time. Mobile technology, for example, is crucial to those efforts, and my colleague Dan Puterbaugh recently wrote about the important role it plays in a catastrophe.

In addition to mobile preparedness, electronic forms and documents are another, small way that national organizations are simplifying their processes so that they can serve more people faster. The Red Cross is an example of a relief organization using electronic forms and documents to efficiently facilitate their recovery efforts. Among the digital elements they’ve enabled to better serve their communities are electronic volunteer management tools. Electronic volunteer forms enable them to bring in volunteers quickly and without much overhead so that they can serve populations affected by disaster without the impediments of standard paperwork.

But it’s not just large organizations that benefit from electronic documents and digital processes. During the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, one of the local organizations on the ground, the Texas Lighthouse Charity Team, was able to pursue their mission uninterrupted because of digital processes they put in place ahead of time. From taking online donations to establishing a digital network of vendors and volunteers, the team provided life-saving relief, including emergency rescues and food deliveries, to those in need and extended their reach by enabling others to use their network to serve in other ways.

Even organizations that are not normally associated with disaster recovery can help ease the process for those affected. Banks that utilize electronic forms and documents can conduct better outreach to their customers in affected areas and ease the burden of making payments or conducting business while they are recovering. Electronic forms can help people apply for payment deferral, apply for financial support, and many other tasks that help ease the burden of recovery.

Document Preservation – A Small, but Critical Part of Recovery

Businesses are in a uniquely vulnerable position when disaster strikes. On one hand they are concerned with their personal welfare, but on the other they have to focus on continuing or preserving their business operations. Documents play a key role in daily operations for businesses to run and by using electronic document services, they enable operations to continue with minimal delay. They also allow businesses to protect their most important documents from natural elements out of their control, such as flood waters from a hurricane.

However, as I pointed out previously, automating forms and documents isn’t just for large organizations. Small businesses and organizations can leverage their power as well. For example, by creating digital forms for donations and volunteer sign up, local non-profits can make it easier for people wanting to help to give both financially and with their time.

Small businesses are often the most affected by disasters and digital transformation can be a large component of getting their business back up and running. Tasks such as payroll are often overlooked in digital transformation, but if you’re in the middle of disaster recovery and are unable to get out paper checks, your business and your employees will suffer when they need help the most. Automating your business processes, such as payroll, can keep everyone on track when times are hardest.

Electronic Documents Serve Organizations Large and Small

Many organizations are already using these technologies to better serve their clients and benefactors – some on a massive scale. Though electronic documents are a small piece of the puzzle, they can be an important step toward bringing normalcy back to those in need.

The Global Fund, a not-for-profit that mobilizes nearly $4 billion annually to fight the diseases, is speeding up delivery of life-saving medicine and assistance with help from Adobe Sign, an Adobe Document Cloud solution. When budgets and plans need to be executed on quickly, having digital document processes such as concurrent signatures and preserved formatting (via PDF) are critical to delivering aid. Having a digital process also enables the organization to complete recruiting activities in less than a day, which helps to staff the fast-growing areas where they serve.

Digital transformation is one of the key components of enabling organizations and businesses to deliver their services without interruption and allow them to serve a greater number of people in less time. Both characteristics that are crucial during disaster recovery.

Source: B2C

Monday, 16 October 2017

Public Relations Trends: How to Explode Your PR with Visuals

Public Relations Trends_ How to Explode Your PR with Visuals

Visual content is one of the public relations trends that has exploded recently. Put simply, if your content doesn’t include a visual component, you’re losing a huge chunk of your potential audience!

People are more visual than ever in their communications — think emojis, GIFs, and video calling. So it’s unsurprising that this has trickled down to business to business public relations and communications.

Yeah, sure, visuals may take extra effort, but you’ll be well-rewarded by journalists, bloggers, and prospects.

Why Are Visuals So Important?

Let’s break this down a little. Say you’re in front of a business’s physical door — what is more likely to draw you in? A long paper posted on the door, singing the company’s praises? Or a poster or some other visual showing how the business will improve your day-to-day professional life? Personally, the latter would engage me more — and I’m not alone!

Consider this stat: People process visuals 60,000 times faster than they process text. Add to this the fact that 65% of people today are visual learners, and that color visuals increase readership of a piece of content by a whopping 80%. It’s no wonder that visuals are one of the fastest growing PR trends in recent years!

These statistics show the powerful impact that visuals have on audiences. If you’re not using visuals, you’re only hurting yourself.

Visuals are intrinsically linked with human emotions.Tapping into those emotions is a key part of public relations, and an excellent way to boost such PR metrics as engagement and lead generation. Numerous studies have shown the effect of images — and even certain colors — on people’s actions and purchase decisions.

What kinds of eye-popping visuals can you use in your pr campaigns and other content? Here’s just a few examples of how you can get more visual:

  • Blog images

  • Graph or charts

  • Infographics

  • Videos

  • Product demos

Now that we’ve considered why visual content is important, let’s now look at 5 actionable ways to be more visual in your PR campaigns.

5 Visual Public Relations Trends That Will Make Your B2B Public Relations Pop

1. Use More Video

Video is a tool that gains more and more traction every year. However, some hesitate to implement it in public relations thinking the time and resources aren’t worth the effort. That belief couldn’t be more wrong.

With the prevalence of smartphones, tablets, and new technology, making video has never been easier. Shoot short segments from your phone or tablet, and use inexpensive software or apps like Powtoon or Animoto to transform your footage into a professional-quality masterpiece.

Would you like to learn how to do a PR campaign that leverages video? Consider some of the ways you can use video to draw in prospects and customers?

  • Product demos

  • How-to segments and tutorials

  • Audience Q and A

  • Behind-the-scenes tour

  • Case studies

Consider this example from Salesforce. Their customer success story really comes to life in this case study video. What would have otherwise been just words on a page pulls at our heartstrings with a real customer’s voice, professional-quality video graphics, and appropriate background music.

Let’s now take a look at another example from HubSpot. Here this inbound marketing company shows exactly how to do a PR campaign with video. Their use of fun animation to overlay their real-life video underscores the importance of their point — that the marketing scene is changing, and companies need to get on board.

2. Include Visuals in Your Pitch

This PR trend even ripples out to how you engage with journalists.

Journalists are often under a tight time crunch to produce articles that will speak to their audience on an emotional level. Visuals help them to do so. When they come across pitches with no visual content to speak of, they’re looking at a tighter time crunch to write the story and produce their own visual content.

Whenever you assemble your pitch, think about how to make it more visually accessible. Do you have stats and figures that can be conveyed in a chart or graph? If it’s a product launch, do you have how-to videos that explain your product in an engaging way? Can you create a colorful infographic that summarizes the key points of your pitch?

However you choose to do it, visual content has a vital place within your press release. Journalists have been known to work with companies repeatedly based solely on the visual content they receive.

Rather than simply inundate a journalist with video content, we recommend asking permission as part of your pitch. Simply mention that you have an infographic or whateve your visual element is, and say you’d be happy to share it.

When you do send it, ensure that your visual content is easily accessible. Double check every downloadable link. Make sure that content is sized appropriately to send via email. And everything should be sized appropriately for journalists and bloggers to use right away.

Take IBM as a superb example of this. Not too long ago they released a news release unveling its first-ever global trade digitization solution. The company’s news release not only clearly identifed contact information and resources, but also included the following infographic to underscore the impact of the solution on industry.

Infographic The Paper Trail of a Shipping Container.jpg

3. Branding

Every visual you create — from infographics to video — gives you a branding opportunity. Visual content is great way to slip your brand’s logo and coloring into your message. Every piece of visual content should represent your brand well, no matter where it is posted or who reads it.

Consistency across all of your visual content is another key to successful branding. From blog images to infographics, your visuals have the power to engage.

Emarketer is a great example as the research firm uses its charts and graphs to imprint its brand on its audience.. Every chart or graph is immediately recognizable in terms of its red and black design — just check this one out.

Chart From eMarketing.gif

4. Use Colors Wisely

Colors have the potential to impact your audience — in good ways as well as bad. The colors you choose can make the difference between a click-through or a pass. They even have the power to influence purchase decisions.

So how can you wield that power successfully? Learn more about the psychology of colors and how they impact your audience.

Choose what message you want to convey to your audience. For example, green is often associated with competence, reliability, and intelligence. Red, on the other hand, is often associated with exciting, trendy, and cool.

Take this logo from Salesforce as an example. Blue is often associated with sophistication and class — the kind of confidence and attitude that a cloud computing company like Salesforce would want to portray.


Or consider this logo from Recast Energy, an energy company that focuses on turning biomass into green electricity and thermal energy for industrial businesses. Its two-tone green logo plays off of the energy field that they operate wtihin, and highlights its go-green initiatives. Plus, it imprints a sense of competence and reliability that customers look for in energy companies.

Recast Energy.png

5. Always Be Honest

None of us like click-bait — it’s dishonest and downright frustrating! So don’t do the same thing with your images.

You wouldn’t write a title that had nothing to do with your blog. So why would you create an image that was misleading or even completely misrepresented your topic?

Choose images that complement your written content.

This shouldn’t quelch your creativity or the emotional impact of the image on your audience. For example, say that you’re a B2B financial institution with a blog post on 10 Wise Business Spending Practices in Today’s Economy. You could choose an image for that blog that resonates with the pain points of your audience — the stress and worry that budgets and spending create for business owners.

On the other hand, an image of a businessman in a gigantic pool of money might misrepresent the overall message of your post. Think about what your image portrays in the first glance, and if that’s not your intended message, change it.

Key Points to Remember…

  • People process visuals faster and more effectively than text

  • The colors you choose can have a major impact on the purchase decisions of your audience

  • Use video to present product demos, tutorials, case studies, and more.

  • Always include your brand’s logo on every piece of visual content.

These public relations trends are just a hint of how visual content is exploding in the world of business to business public relations. How do you plan on taking advantage of this trend?

Source: B2C

Why You Need To Create Great Content Your Customers Will Trust

Your website has a tough job. It must appeal to your site visitors in a way that encourages engagement and moves those visitors toward action, and it must do this without necessarily knowing anything about your visitors when they first arrive.

It must appeal to your site visitors in a way that encourages engagement and moves those visitors toward action, and it must do this without necessarily knowing anything about your visitors.

Once a visitor has been on your blog or connected with you via social media or email, you have much more information to work with — assuming you have good CRM and marketing automation tools in place.

But even without that information, your site needs to do the following:

  • Address prospects’ problems or pain points

  • Educate

  • Demonstrate your experience and expertise

  • Prove effectiveness of your solutions

  • Build trust

  • Provide a way to reach you

With all that is required of an effective marketing website, the planning and strategy that go into the site before the first line of code is written will have an enormous impact on how well your site performs. The tips below will make the process more productive.

Good Website Copy will Make or Break You

When it comes to content marketing, having great website content can make or break all of your marketing efforts.

You not only have to create copy that resonates with your current customers but you also have to keep your future customers in mind.

With only a few seconds to grab website visitors’ attention, your website content needs to tell a story that engages, adds insight and educate your visitors. Copy should be memorable, thought-provoking, useful, and interesting.

If you can’t capture your visitors’ interest, they will quickly leave your site to go to your competitors.

To get you on the path to writing great website content that your future customers will love, I’ve outlined a few tips below.

Focus on Your Customers’ Interests

When people are seeking information online it’s to find answers, to relieve their pain points or solve a problem.


HypnoArt / Pixabay

Website copy needs to address the questions that your visitors have.

You need to anticipate their needs and focus all of your content on the reasons why these visitors are coming to your site in the first place. So, while you’re writing copy, take yourself out of the equation and focus on the future customers that might be reading it instead. There should be more “you” than “we” in your writing.

Take yourself out of the equation and focus on the future customers and focus on your customer’s needs and what they are looking to read instead. Your website copy and blog articles should be more about the customer and their problems and pain points than about you.

Let’s be honest; no one cares about you or your brand.

Accuracy is a Must

Factual mistakes, half-truths, and outright misleading information can and will do real damage to your company’s reputation.

You’re putting out information to be known as a thought leader; if your content isn’t correct, you’ll be known as the opposite: as a company that people can’t and will not trust.

Accuracy is critical with grammar and spelling. You don’t want preventable and dumb mistakes to make you look bad, so have someone else proofread content before uploading it to your website.

Put Thought into Your Headlines

Your headline is the first glimmer of information that your website visitors will see.

The headline needs to capture their interest and make them click on your link to read more.

You want to excite and engage them.

The headline maybe the sole reason someone decides to read your content or not.

You need to make sure your headline is actually related to the information you’ve written on your page—no one wants to feel like he or she was tricked into coming to your website with a click-bait headline.

Originality Matters

Creating original content will not only help you with your search engine rankings, but your visitors will appreciate it too. Rehashing the same old ideas and concepts as your competitors won’t help you stand out in the crowd. No one will seek out your information if he or she has heard it all before.

Rehashing the same old ideas and concepts as your competitors won’t help you stand out in the crowd. No one will look at you as a thought leader if your information if they have heard it all before.

Bring Value


Hermann / Pixabay

Unless information is useful to the reader, what’s the point of writing it? Your website content should be educational, so your readers can learn from it. After all, they’re seeking out information so they can become more knowledgeable. It should also be actionable, with tips and advice that they can apply to their own lives—but without telling them what to do. Simply writing down your thoughts without truly thinking about how valuable it is, will be a waste of time and resources.

Your website content should be educational, so your readers can learn from it. It should solve a pain point or assist with managing a problem.

People are seeking information so they can become more knowledgeable and make better, more informed decisions.

Content should also be actionable, with tips and advice that they can apply to their own lives—but

without telling them what to do.

Simply writing down your thoughts without truly thinking about how valuable it will be a waste of time and resources.

Use Different Mediums

Not everyone wants to read a blog post to figure out an answer to a question.

Some people would rather watch videos, view infographics, or listen to podcasts to gain knowledge.

So when you create website content, mix up your delivery methods so you can target as the many types of learners as possible.

Gain Traffic with Great Content

Poor quality and misinformation on website content will get you nowhere. In fact, it will damage your reputation, potentially permanently.

Taking the easy path and not putting in the time and effort it requires to create awesome content won’t attract and entice your future customers. To gain traffic, your website content needs to be exceptional, so focus on your future customers, pay attention to headlines, be original, provide value, and create different types of content.

To gain traffic, your website content needs to be exceptional.

Focus on your future customers, pay attention to recent headlines, blog comments and similar for ideas of what their pain points are.

Most of all, be original, provide value, and create different types of content.

Ask for Action

Every page of your website should lead naturally toward one thing: the next step in the buyer’s journey.

That might simply be the next page on the site, subscribing to an email or newsletter, downloading a white paper or eventually reaching out for contact with your sales team.

The difficult task here is balancing the need to maintain this tight focus while also presenting the visitor with reasonable options for their next steps. Again, planning and strategy will determine what those options should be and how they should be presented.

If you’re successful at defining success, moving prospects toward that end goal and giving them opportunities to engage and commit, you will have created all the elements for success.

You’ll have a content marketing site that converts visitors to subscribers, subscribers to leads and leads to clients.

Source: B2C

Atlanta Falcons Player With Season Ending Injury From Kneeling For National Anthem Is Fake News

An Atlanta Falcons player injuring his knee when he was kneeling during the U.S. National Anthem is fake news. There is no truth to a report that a player was hurt before an NFL game when he decided to join in the kneeling during the National Anthem.

Last year, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. Over the course of the season, other players joined his protest by kneeling, sitting or raising their fists during the anthem. While Kaepernick is no longer employed with a team, other players have continued to protest during the anthem.

Now, where did the fake news originate? Freedum Junkshun published the fake news article reporting that a player for the Falcons injured his knee during the protest and would be out for the entire season. You can read the fake news below.

Oh, this is priceless! The Atlanta Falcons are now down a player not because of an injury he acquired at a game. This wasn’t a normal “someone just got hurt playing football” scenario, either. Third-string quarterback Darnell Russell got a strong dose of karma as he dropped to one knee during the National Anthem.

Russell has only played one game this season, a game that the Falcons lost, but every single week he has joined the team in kneeling for the National Anthem – a protest against police for doing their jobs, our military, our flag, our Constitution, and our freedom. On Sunday when he “took a knee,” something snapped. ESPN reports:

“Things were off to a tense start at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when Falcons reserve quarterback Darius Russell suddenly screamed in pain as the team knelt for the National Anthem protest. …”

However, there is no truth to the above story, according to Hoax Alert. First of all, there is no “Darnell Russell” or “Darius Russell” who actually plays for the Atlanta Falcons. Furthermore, there has been no report from such major sports outlets like ESPN.

Lastly, the image that was used in the fake news article from Freedum Junkshun actually depicts Falcons player Harry Douglas after getting injured during a game in 2014.

Here is an example of someone sharing the fake news on social media.

Freedum Junkshun carries the following disclaimer at the bottom of the page:

We believe that there is nothing more precious than the mind of an aging conservative. Here we gather a boatload of bullhonkey, works of pure satirical fiction, to give the fist-shakers of the world a reason to hate. Reality is often in the eye of the beholder. You won’t find any of it here.

Join the fun in the comments on our Facebook page where you too can watch David Hasselhoff running over someone’s poodle magically transformed into a crime against humanity by Barack Obama or yet another murder the Clintons got away with.

What did you think of the fake news that a player for the Falcons injured himself while kneeling during the National Anthem? Did you believe the fake news or see people sharing it falsely on social media? Let us know in the comments section.

Source: B2C

Think Like a High-Growth Firm

Many firms have the potential to be high-growth superstars. These high performers come from every corner of the professional services universe. Some are large and some small, and they serve a diverse array of clients.

But far too many firms fail to achieve their growth potential. Why?

The knowledge to ignite growth is readily available. Yet somehow, sustained high growth never happens at most firms.

Often, the problem lies between a management team’s ears. They build their strategic plans upon faulty assumptions and outmoded beliefs.

High-growth teams look at things differently. In this post, we identify five traits of high-growth firms. If your leadership team is lacking any of these traits, you will be hard pressed to take your business to a place where it can deliver consistently high growth and profits.

Belief that you can grow

“We’re too large to grow quickly.” “We’re too small to compete against the big firms.” “Our industry is too competitive.” If there is one thing otherwise intelligent professionals are good at, it’s generating excuses why they can’t grow.

Naturally, if you believe you can’t grow, you will never try. Your firm will grind in low gear forever. Other firms won’t try because they are afraid to fail — if you don’t try, you can’t fail. The logic is flawed, yet it’s still appealing to some.

As with any business goal, success is never certain. But failure is guaranteed if you don’t try.

What you need is a mindshift — a dogged belief that growth is possible and that your team can make it happen. There may be many valid reasons you aren’t growing today. You just need to identify them, then eliminate them one by one.

Courage to be different

It’s very easy — and oddly comforting — to look to your peers for marketing guidance. If “everyone” calls themselves full service or has a blue logo, there must be a good reason. Right?

Wrong. Don’t anchor yourself to your competitors. That’s an anchor that will sink you. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right. In fact, that’s a sure-fire indicator that you are missing a huge opportunity — one that’s happening in different waters.

The whole point of differentiation is to be, well, different from your competitors. And when that difference provides an important benefit to a segment of potential clients, you’ve got a true competitive advantage.

The roots of this blind spot go back to our evolutionary past. We humans are herd animals. Fitting in feels safe. Being different feels dangerous. But when it comes to marketing and business development it pays to take some risks and stand for something.

Respect for reality

If there is any overriding conclusion to draw from the last 30 years of cognitive and behavioral science, it is that humans are not by nature fully rational creatures. Strong emotions often influence and distort our perceptions even when we think we are being “realistic.”

It’s easy to find people and anecdotal evidence to support our biases and opinions. But we can counterbalance this weakness with research and science.

Using research and provable facts as the basis for making decisions can be immensely powerful. In fact, high-growth firms are much more likely to conduct frequent research on their target clients to uncover opportunities for growth.

So what does your team need to do? Believe in science and embrace research. Separate your assumptions from those things you know to be true. Recognize that anecdotes and opinions are not facts. And remember that snap decisions based on “gut feeling” can be very risky to the health of your firm.

Love of learning

“That’s the way we have always done it” is a very dangerous phrase in today’s fast-changing world. At a time when half of human knowledge becomes outdated every 2.5 years, no professional can avoid new learning.

But how do you approach it? Is learning something your firm embraces or avoids? And do you define learning as mandatory continuing education only, or is it something more?

Firms that love learning about their clients’ industries and the challenges they face are far better equipped to anticipate and address clients’ emerging and needs. And firms that love learning about their technical specialty are positioned to innovate and demonstrate thought leadership. What is your firm’s commitment to learning?

Nishith Desai Associates, an India-based law firm with offices around the globe, decided to make learning an integral part of their firm culture. So they dedicate the first hour of each morning to learning. When they aren’t doing independent study, everyone in the firm participates in live or virtual sessions. For a firm their size, this commitment represents an enormous investment, but it has paid tremendous dividends. They were named Asia’s most innovative law firm by The Financial Times. They have successfully built their world class reputation around their knowledge and creative thinking.

While your firm may not be able to make this level of commitment, that doesn’t mean that you can’t value and support new learning. Knowledge is power. But in an era of rapid change and increasing competition, those who value learning have the greatest power.

Mission mentality

Having a clear focus and a well-defined goal are important to motivating and directing growth. This single overriding focus is something we call a “mission mentality.” When people are counting down the days until their retirement or chasing their personal priorities they are not working as a team to achieve a common goal.

Today’s professional services firms are complex organizations. They often have matrix structures and many practice areas with autonomous professionals working on complicated client projects. Add in a rapidly evolving environment and intense competition and you have a recipe for stress and confusion.

When everyone in a firm has a clear understanding of where they are headed and are working together to get there, growth is much easier to achieve. The mission becomes more important than any individual’s priorities.

Firms that have multiple competing goals are at war with themselves. We’ve seen too many firms let conflicting partner-level priorities torpedo growth of the overall firm. Don’t let it happen to yours.

How do you think like a high-growth firm? The five traits I’ve described above are crucial, and a firm has to embrace them at every level of the organization. Of course, that means starting at the top with the leadership team. You may have to work hard to purge the habits and assumptions that are holding you back. But once you get everyone excited and headed in the same direction the obstacles to sustained high performance become easier and easier to overcome.

Source: B2C

Bernie Sanders Wrote An Essay In Vermont Freeman About A Woman Fantasizing About Rape By 3 Men

Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders once wrote an essay in 1972 about a woman fantasizing about being raped by three men simultaneously. Sanders’ work was published in the alternative newspaper Vermont Freeman and was titled “Man — and Woman” in which there was horrific rape reference.

At a time when Harvey Weinstein is being accused of sexual harassment claims by many in Hollywood, the essay by Sanders is once again receiving attention. The essay previously gained awareness in a profile of Sanders published by Mother Jones when Sanders was part of the Democrat presidential race.

What Sanders did share with the young radicals and hippies flocking to Vermont was a smoldering idealism forged during his college years as a civil rights activist — he coordinated a sit-in against segregated housing and attended the 1963 March on Washington — but only a fuzzy sense of how to act on it. Sanders bounced back and forth between Vermont and New York City, where he worked at a psychiatric hospital. After his marriage broke up in the late 1960s, he moved to an A-frame farmhouse outside the Vermont town of Stannard, a tiny hamlet with no paved roads in the buckle of the commune belt. He dabbled in carpentry and tried to get by as a freelance journalist for alternative newspapers and regional publications, contributing interviews, political screeds, and, one time, a stream-of-consciousness essay on the nature of male-female sexual dynamics.

As a result of the essay’s content, many questioned Sanders and his views on women. Such conservative outlets like Young Cons reproduced a portion of the essay to show the hypocrisy for liberals to demonize Republicans for waging a “War on Women” when Sanders had written about a rape fantasy:

According to liberals with IQs smaller than their sock size, conservative presidential candidates absolutely LOATHE women, hate them with a passion even.

Those mean, old, white guys — which is a hilarious stereotype given there’s latinos, blacks, and women in the top spots for the GOP — want nothing more than to destroy women’s health care by defunding the ghoulish Planned Parenthood, and encourage rape culture with their antiquated views on gender roles.

None of this is actually true, of course, but when have facts ever got in the way of the liberal agenda?

What should really make you scratch your head is how lefties will rake conservatives over the coals for the things mentioned above, yet say absolutely nothing about this atrocious Bernie Sanders quote.

Not just conservative websites talked about the essay’s content. NPR, for example, reported that:

One way to read the essay is that Sanders was doing (in a supremely ham-handed way) what journalists do every day: draw the reader in with an attention-getting lede, then get to the meat of the article in the middle.

You can draw divergent conclusions from the article itself. On the one hand, he’s talking about liberating people from harmful gender norms. On the other, with his nameless hypothetical “man-and-woman” characters, he also seems to imply that men fantasize about raping women or that women fantasize about being raped.

The Sanders campaign quickly tried to distance itself and the candidate from the essay. Campaign spokesman Michael Briggs called the essay a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication” in an interview with CNN, adding that it “in no way reflects his views or record on women.” He added, “It was intended to attack gender stereotypes of the ’70s, but it looks as stupid today as it was then.”

The Women’s Convention announced that Sanders would speak on the opening night of its national conference in Detroit later this month. The Women’s Convention is run by the leaders of January’s Women’s March movement, which saw five million women join protests around the world.

Here are some reactions on social media to people discussing Sanders’ essay.

Critics had protested on social media that Sanders not only had run a negative campaign against Hillary Clinton in last year’s Democratic presidential primary, but that he and his supporters are pushing the Democratic Party away from its base of women and people of color toward the concerns of white working class voters. Many women were simply disappointed that a man was chosen for the event.

What did you think of Sanders’ essay that contained a reference to a rape fantasy? Did you find it distasteful for Sanders to have published? Let us know in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Source

Source: B2C

Shark Tank: BenjiLock Accepts $200,000 Offer from Kevin O’Leary


Last into the tank is Robbie Cabral of BenjiLock, seeking $200,000 for 10 percent equity.

BenjiLock is a rechargeable padlock that uses fingerprint technology to ensure your valuables are safe. According to Digital Trends, the padlock “supports up to four distinct fingerprints and saves them in an encrypted chip, allowing users to easily crack open the 7-pin device with a finger of their own choosing.” The device can also be opened using traditional keys in the event that an unauthorized individual attempts to unlock it, which causes all information to be deleted. It is available in stainless steel, white, black, brass and copper and costs $80.

The sharks are all very impressed that the charge on the padlock lasts a whole year, while Lori Greiner thinks it’s very impressive that the product was honored at CES 2017. BenjiLock, which has received a licensing offer from one company, is Cabral’s full-time job.

Kevin O’Leary offers $200,000 for 15 percent, followed by Lori Greiner, who offers $200,000 for 15 percent. The offers continue to pour in as Barbara Corcoran partially offers $100,000 for 10 percent. Guest shark Alex Rodriguez is very inspired by Cabral’s passion and story and offers to join Corcoran’s offer for a total of $200,000 for 20 percent. Before Cabral accepts anything, Mark Cuban goes out.

Ultimately, Cabral accepts O’Leary’s offer. He says something connected with that deal in particular.

Social Media Reacts to BenjiLock’s Appearance on “Shark Tank”

Each week on “Shark Tank,” budding entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch their emerging businesses to multi-millionaire and billionaire investors, known as sharks: Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Daymond John, fashion mogul and founder of FUBU; Kevin O’Leary, self-proclaimed Mr. Wonderful and founder of O’Leary Financial Group; Barbara Corcoran, real estate maven; Lori Greiner, queen of QVC; and Robert Herjavec, technology guru and founder/CEO of the Herjavec Group.

Philanthropist and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Spanx founder Sara Blakely, Skinnygirl Cocktails founder and Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel, Vitamin Water founder Rohan Oza and former MLB player Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez are also slated to appear as guest sharks this season.

“Shark Tank,” which is based on “Dragons’ Den,” is produced by Mark Burnett and first debuted in 2009. To date, the sharks have invested more than $100 million in various companies after engaging in numerous bidding wars and shark fights. A new episode airs each Sunday at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Would you use BenjiLock? Sound off in the comments section below!

Source: B2C

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Build a Business You Can Live With

ROverhate / Pixabay

Big exits are exciting even intoxicating. But, they are still the exception to the rule. Yes, strategics are buying innovation. Yes, there is more money in the food and beverage space than ever before. Yes, the multiples are crazy.

Given all of this, it is understandable that a big exit is often the goal. Many founders start with that end in mind. However, building a brand is different from running a business. You better make sure that you are prepared and excited by the latter as it very well could be the outcome.

Even when the big exit does occur, it rarely happens as soon as hoped or expected. That means most companies find themselves transitioning from startup to a business. It’s giant step from birthing and commercializing an idea to running and leading an enterprise.

Knowing this is critical, preparing for it, vital. The first step is an honest evaluation of what you do well and what you don’t. Closely linked to that is what you enjoy doing and what you try to avoid.

When you begin building a business, you have the unique opportunity to create your ideal role. Here is a bit of a radical thought. That role doesn’t always have to be as CEO and leader.

I recently conducted an interview with Noah Alper, the founder of Noah’s Bagels, which eventually sold to Einstein’s Bros. Bagels for $100 million. Noah told me that he understood that CEO would be the wrong role for him and the business.

Alper shared, “I recognized shortly into the game that the CEO job was probably not the best place for me, so not all that far after my brother and I joined up and created the company together, we hired a CEO.”

It’s your business, carve out the role you want to play. One that brings you the most enjoyment and in which you deliver the most value to your team. If that is not as CEO, so what. Noah stuck to marketing as he loved promoting the brand. Nobody could do that better because he did so with a founder’s passion. He let a professional CEO take the company forward. It was the right decision for both Noah and the company.

If you are going to be running a business for a while, you might as well do it in an environment you enjoy. So, build a culture that appeals to you and is aligned with your brand.

Kevin Cleary, CEO of Clif Bar & Company told me in an interview, “We win in large part today because of our culture. We are now a company of roughly 1,200 and that’s different than when we were a company of 50.”

Lastly, build a business with a strong EBITDA. I recognize that sounds simple but it is amazing how often that focus gets blurry. A business with a good EBITDA and a strong brand is always going to be ripe for acquisition.

This is yours, develop a role in which you flourish. Create a culture that you find invigorating, exciting, and aligned with your values. Build a business with a good EBITDA and a strong brand. If that delivers a successful exit, great. If not, you’ve created a pretty cool place to go to work every day. So, don’t forget to build a business you can live with.

Source: B2C