How to emote authority – a quick reminder

“When I first met you, I thought you were kind of a b*tch.” Am I allowed to say that on LinkedIn? Regardless, friends and coworkers say that to me. This reminder of my inability to make a good first impression shows I have a lot to learn.

My “softer” side is something I need to address, but we’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about the benefits behind asserting authority. The ability to command a room – be it at a party or in a boardroom – is not innate and can be  learned.

This morning, I overheard a conversation between the deputy divisional director and a sales guy at my company. He told the newbie, “I can tell who will be successful by the way they walk around the office.”

Here’s what he meant; and here’s what I do.

Make your body big by having your shoulders back. When  you sit down at a meeting, place your elbows on the armchair and spread out your materials to make sure they cover a large area.

Make your body high by sitting up straight – in meetings and while at your desk. Shoulders back and chin parallel to the ground. This little shift makes youlook authoritative even if you don’t feel authoritative. Fake it ’til you make it.

Take the dominant seat – I always sit at the head of the table in meetings. It’s important to be able to have a line of direct eyesight to everyone in the room. It shows them that their opinions are valued. Conversely, if I’m not leading the meeting, if I’ve made a mistake and need to apologize, or if I just need to show respect in general, I will sit next to or beside that person. This shows that I know my place in the hierarchy, am willing to learn and respect them.

Don’t move out of the way of others. There are obvious exceptions to this rule (i.e., you’re the one ‘merging into the lane’ or if you’re a man confronting a woman or if you’re a human being at a crossroads with a pregnant, elderly or disabled person.) These exceptions notwithstanding, don’t let someone take you off your path. In America, we walk on the right and pass on the left. I don’t scurry, so if someone is confused by this I will simply slow my pace or stand there until they figure it out. When walking around the office, walk with a purpose. Ask yourself, “where am I going?” I don’t mean literally to your desk or a conference room. I mean where are you going in life? That will determine how you walk and no one should stand in that path.

Get up. If an email conversation goes beyond three volleys of responses, then don’t respond. Get up and go talk to that person. It’s all too easy nowadays to not have a face-to-face conversation, which actually makes it easier for you to stand out and assert your authority. By getting up and looking someone in the eye you are more likely to temper misunderstanding. This also shows that you aren’t afraid to tackle issues head-on, which is very powerful behavior.

Stop wearing headphones unless you’re writing or researching. There is no reason for it. And do not, for the love of all things beautiful, walk around the office with your headphones in your ears. We’re too old to be carrying around an adult version of a blankie.

Timeliness. Sh*t happens (again, am I allowed to curse on LinkedIn, I am new to this), but if you wake up earlier and arrive at the office before 9 a.m., it sets the tone for your entire day. You will feel in control of what happens to you. Instead of feeling flustered and agitated, this time will allow you to mentally plan out the course of your day. Start by making your bed. Even if everything else goes wrong you will still feel that you’ve accomplished at least one thing. General McRavengave this advice in an excellent anecdote:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

That’s some powerful sh*t.

St. Patrick’s Day cookies, anyone?

How cute is this St. Patrick’s Day greeting from my former co-journalist, Liz Coe, and me? Six years ago we were working at the Loudoun Times as the education and business reporters. I miss those days. (I baked green cookies today, in case you were wondering). Happy Luck of the Irish to you all!

Liz and Hannah
Six years ago, I was the Business Reporter and Liz was the Education Reporter at the LoudounTimes.com

Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe*:

Ingredients for the cake:

1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Ingredients for the topping:

8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat the over to 350 F, and butter and line a 9 inch springform pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter — in spoons or slices — and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner’s sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsifted confectioners’ sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.

Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Makes about 12 slices

*From “Feast” by Nigella Lawson.

Tips to avoid the #Millennial meltdown

Oh, Millennials, what are we going to do with you? Everyone wants to #reach you, to #engage you and to get you to spend your #money. Why, oh why, won’t you just tell us what we can do for you? Oh, what’s that you say? You mean you have been telling us this whole time? Huh ….

Tips to avoid the Millennial meltdown

Open your ears, the Millennials are talking, says Melvin Greer, Senior Fellow at Lockheed Martin and author of “21st Century Leadership.” A majority of Millennials — 59 percent — turn to their trusted network of friends and family as the primary influencers when making a purchase.

Millennials don’t just use products and services; they are the products and services they use. The generation associates a part of themselves with thCCW Millennials THUMBNAILeir preferred brands and is hyperaware of how a brand not only meets their service needs, but also their personal needs. Because they have such
high expectations for hyper-personalization, they therefore require mass-customized experiences.

Millennials are digital natives accustomed to having any kind of information available to them at any time. Instead of worrying about meeting these high expectations, consider using their knowledge and ideas: ask them what they want and they’ll give you the exact products and service ideas they want to buy
from you. It could be as easy as that.

If you’re wondering why you should jump through hoops for the youngest purchasing generation it’s because once you’ve got ‘em, they’ll be yours
forever.

Tips to avoid the Millennial meltdown

Trust in brands and institutions are waning across the generation. They are well-trained in sniffing out inauthenticity and need to believe that a company has integrity to follow through with what they say. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s important to be aware that Millennials are at the top of this reciprocal ecosystem. They will represent almost half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. They will also represent about $1.4 trillion in spend – about one third of all retail sales projected for that year.

You may see them as one small fish, but collectively, they are all sharks in a large network that wields the power to create or kill your company, Greer says.

Millennials are a viral group that can lead to large-scale changes in the future of consumer behavior. You’ll be taking the reigns alongside them if you find the sweet spot at the center of mass customization, authenticity and technology.

Retail’s much-needed secret weapon …

In a crowded, competitive market, predictive analytics is emerging as a secret weapon to gain insight from data.

If you’re looking to become an indispensable partner in driving profit through world-class insights and analytics, you must harness the data to identify and understand market trends. Only then can the strategy to monitor the risk landscape be defined. That’s when you’ll be able to reduce losses and remain competitive.

The yellow brickPredictive Analytics The Secret Weapon Infographic road to the Gold Standard.

Data within retail is still not being fully leveraged as a determination of real behavior. Instead, it’s stuck in the days of providing summations of customer preferences. You can find new ways to engage your customers by bringing insights and analytics in-house.

This is a case study of the route taken by ConAgra, as presented by Chris Ciccarello, Senior Director of Customer Analytics at the previous Shopping Experience Transformation event.

Start with building data capabilities.

ConAgra put its minds to identifying the analytical possibilities by:

  • Identifying affinities for cross-promotion and shelving
  • Evaluating store layout and assortment
  • Reviewing store and customer segmentation
  • Predicting shopping behavior
  • Collecting shopper dynamics for testing
  • Segmenting and targeting shopper offers

Gather the community.

Hire the people with existing expertise. They should ideally possess:

  • A mix of IT and business knowledge
  • Business analyst experience
  • Experience with transaction-level data
  • Ability to create data visualizations
  • Are an enthusiast of data and technology

Key questions for IT:

  • Does IT have a strategy to handle Big Data?
  • Are they a partner or a profit center?
  • Are they flexible with different approaches?

Key questions to answer for IT:

  • How big are the datasets?
  • How long do they need to be stored?
  • What are the query speed requirements?
  • What tools are needed to analyze the data?
  • What security is required?

Cluster stores for layouts/assortments.

Geography should not play a role in store clustering because store proximity doesn’t necessarily equate to the similar shopper behavior. Tips:

  1. Group stores together that have similar shopper buying patterns
  2. Create assortments, space and flow to match the products that are most important to the store’s shoppers
  3. Allows the stores to have a common feel but also be tailored to the community
  4. Reduce Out of Stocks and excess inventory
  5. Customize Signage and messaging to capture the shopper’s needs

Press the launch, then sit back and watch the analytical platforms.

Finding the pot of gold.

  • Returned distribution after delist
  • Kept private brand business despite lower comp bids
  • Won new private brand category bid
  • Saved items from getting downsized
  • New insights on trade promotion behavior
  • Understanding coupon redemption

New big data sets + the right people and systems + analytical execution = retailers’ boosted volume and profit + more satisfied shoppers.

The CX Edge: Customers are King

Nearly 90 percent of CMOs report that building trusted customer relationships is a significant focus of their departments’ strategic and competitive vision for 2016, according to a recent Forbes study.

Building trusted customer relationships is a significant focus for many strategic and competitive visions this year. This is why the latest data and analytics technologies was at the top of almost every discussion at the CX Impact event in New Orleans, as attendees learned the tools to build credibility and long-term relationships with customers. This CXImpact Report, that summarizes what it takes to make your CX strategy next level, shows you how.

‘Taste the Feeling’ of Coca-Cola’s love for data

Coca-Cola may be known for bringing people together, but this wasn’t always the case. Its cross-functional operations were once very decentralized, but after implementing its shared service center using a centralized SaaS model, everything changed. Karla Younger, VP of HR Services, and her team have found the recipe for success – the data reveals the support function’s history and projects its future need.

“When we created shared services we lifted and shifted those operations into our model. So we didn’t necessarily transform before we moved it in,” says Karla Younger, the Vice President of HR Services for Coca-Cola refreshments.

Karla Younger THUMBNAIL
Karla on Coca-Cola was first published on HRSSOutsourcing.com

Now, thanks to a centralized SaaS model, Karla and her team have the recipe for Shared Services Success by having a look at just what’s happening in the support they provide. After collecting this intelligence, the data reveals the history of the support function and projects future need. The foundation of the transformation is really about merging all the data together to become more and more integrated. Only after integration is achieved can senior executives become fully aware of all the touchpoints. The final, fully-baked result is the emergence of a better functional picture based off of the interweaving data points.

 

“In the SaaS model you can do it a lot faster. It’s more agile, so you can start to build configurations, review it, tweak it and continue in that iterative cycle … we’ve been doing that with new technologies we’ve been putting in place and it’s much faster than we saw other like-ERP type of technologies in the past,” she says.

In the future, Coca-Cola wants to amp up automation for a faster turn around on employees’ more complex inquiries. Mobile apps will play a key role in delivering this information in a quicker and more effective way. Of course, the way to meet this constant evolution of technology, and continue the center’s reputation for groundbreaking innovation, is by mining for talent within the employees themselves.

“We have found individuals within our organization who have skills that we’re not necessarily using. So, we’ve been really focusing on providing some stretch opportunities, developing individuals, being able to flex them around as we have other initiatives and projects going on, and that’s worked really well over the last few years,” she says.

My interview with Karla was conducted at the HRSSO event in Orlando. 

“The Joy of Pepsi-Cola” is found in its global model

It’s not always a joy when you’re undergoing a global transformation in an organization like PepsiCo. As if it’s not hard enough to drive a new agenda with global processes, you must also make an effort to properly sort through all of the pushes and pulls to remain locally relevant. This is no easy feat when you’re driving the change in a company that’s larger than some small countries.

Even if your company doesn’t have 260,000+ employees across 84 countries, you still need to be of two minds when implementing a global shared services strategy. What does this mean? We asked Shakti Jauhar, PepsiCo’s Global HR Operations and Shared Services, to explain.

Shakti HeadshotSimply put, you should think globally when the value is driven by consistency and standardization. Conversely, you should think locally when the value is driven by the needs and variations of specific markets, he says.

For example, motivations and rewards systems are different in different countries. These are initiatives that you don’t want to standardize across the globe. “It’s all about harmonization, and at the end, making sure that harmonization takes care of whatever the local regulatory environment is and the local needs are,” Shakti says.

Tomorrow’s successful Shared Services models will sink or swim on the backs of your HR professionals’ ability to be adaptive, agile and analytical. They will only be able to do so if you throw them the lifejacket of standardization. Demonstrate the high-level need for change management, communication and engagement to the executives on your team. Meanwhile, you’ll also need to listen to the positive and negative experiences of the locally-based teams to make sure you’re taking a constant pulse of the changes. Their feedback will provide you with the data you need in order to make timely and effective adjustments.

The amount of knowledge and data that will continue to stream in to centers across the world will require analytical abilities that have perhaps never been seen before. Thankfully, technology will step in to help carry this burden. The ideal center has a three-layered approach to technology, according to Shakti. It’s built on a very simplistic technology infrastructure that supports any given cloud-based application platform, which allows the organization to maintain the technology as it moves and changes. On top of it all of this is all of the devices.

Now is the time to set up a support structure for those processes that lend themselves to self-service, whether it’s employee management or HR, so that the affected business teams are free to leverage technology instead of the old process. Although technology ends up playing a large role, transformation is not about technology, it is about process. It’s about being able to leverage the information, and the data, to be able to help the business goal, he says.

“So, if I have that three-layer infrastructure, I can then plug and play all the new startup innovations that come in, plug them in, leverage them, use them, be more efficient, plug it out, and put in a new one if I need to,” he says. “At the end of the day, we need to be agile in order to get to that point where we can start to really leverage what is coming to us from an innovation perspective, from all these startups that we think about and we talk about all the time.”

This is a summary of an interview with Shakti Jauhar from the HR Shared Services event.

Four pro tips on media partner outreach

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: Media partners are not the media. They can be, but are not exclusively. There is a greater network of publications, associations, groups, LinkedIn members, etc., who also have a vested interest in the topic you’re writing on.

If I conduct an interview or create an infographic that has value, why shouldn’t it be of value to others, too? I’ve identified my media partners before I even create the content because there’s really no point in content if it isn’t being seen.

It’s a no-brainer that external partnerships with media partners are integral to promotion. What’s more is that the result could be that you’re PUBLISHED!!! Or, you go viral.

infographic-outreach

Pro Tips:

1. Email individually. You can bcc, but I prefer to send people the same email individually because I am personally very good at sniffing out mass emails when they hit my inbox: and then I straight up ignore them. There are usually no more than 20 media partners per topic, so if you copy and paste the same message into separate emails it doesn’t take too long. I just sent this same message to 9 media partners in 7 minutes. Easy.

2. Make the subject line clear. I use the subject line and the first sentence to state immediately that this is content that I am giving them. Again, to abate the spam issue, I want them to know right away that this will benefit them, then I go into how.

3. Conversational. That goes without saying – I’m a human, they’re a human. I’m just a human who has created content that I am proud of and I would like another human to post it to their website and social media. This usually works out because most media partners are looking for free content whenever they can get their greasy fingers on it.

4. Find the media partners. Search out the appropriate media partner companies first and then go to their website to find the appropriate contact. The job titles are usually editorial/pr/communications/media related.

Bonus tip:

Follow-up. No deaf ears accepted. I plan to follow up with those who haven’t responded within the next week. I will not be ignored.

Why your Call to Action sucks

Thank you, CopyBlogger, for the following reasons why marketers (and content marketers) don’t see higher conversions. Here is their list, shortened and paraphrased by me:

Multiple Calls to Action

What’s the one thing you want readers to do? When you have too many calls to action, your readers become paralyzed by the choices and leave.

 No Call to Action

They come, they see, they leave. Give them  an opportunity to subscribe.

Below the Fold

When you visit the most popular sites in the world, you will notice that you never have to scroll to find the call to action.

Colors Blend In

Pop quiz: Does your call to action jump out at your readers the moment they arrive to your blog? If not, you might want torethink your color palette.

Loaded with Jargon

Too many marketers load their content with industry jargon instead of writing in words their readers actually use.

Not Specific

Your readers lead busy lives and your job is to spell it out for them. If you want them to enter their email address, tell them in your call to action. If you want them to click a link, include the words “click here” in the link.

No Urgency

People are extremely motivated to take action out of fear of missing out on an opportunity. For instance, if you want more readers to download your ebook or free report, try offering it for a limited time only.

Too Much Self Proclaimed Hype

A great way to increase subscribers is to have an industry authority quote how much they enjoy reading your content.

No Benefit to Signing Up

Hmm. Meeting speakers isn’t a benefit

No A/B Testing

At least once a month, you should test your call to action to improve your subscription rate until you’ve deemed it good enough.

Puny Call to Action

If you have a call to action and no one can find it, you may as well have no call to action at all. Make it big enough so people can’t miss it.

 Wrong Offer

If your offer doesn’t interest your readers, how convincing the copywriting is or how beautiful your buttons are won’t matter. They won’t take action. Think about the number of websites with ebooks and software that never get downloaded. The bottom line: The best way to create a killer call to action is to offer something your readers really want, when they want it, the way they want it.

Never Studied Copywriting

Let’s get perfectly blunt here. Although trying to create a killer call to action without studying copywriting is possible, it’s highly unlikely. If you’ve never studied copywriting, you need to start right now.

 

Write like a 5th grader to make more money

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough,” – Albert Einstein.

Let me explain what he means: Your copy should be #basic. Overly-complicated copy is filled with adjectives, adverbs, countless clauses, technical terms and business jargon. This is costing you money.

The science behind it is hiding right under your fingertips and within your favorite word processing software. Microsoft Word is equipped with this fun little tool called the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which is a formula that determines how easy-to-read your copy is to the average American.

The idea was born of the “plain language” movement in the 1960s, which itself was an attempt to increase the comprehensibility of government documents. It has since been fleshed out to become a very useful metric for marketers and advertisers to tailor copy to their targeted audience.

Brand experts will tell you that the key to writing a killer slogan or tagline is for it to be memorable, emote positivity, and differentiate the brand from its competitors. All of this is true, but what is missing is the simplicity of language.

Are writers allergic to simplicity? They shouldn’t be, considering the most successful slogans are also the most plain: Nike’s “Just do it.” McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It.” Visa’s “It’s everywhere you want to be.” 

Keep it simpleThis is vital to ensuring that your brand doesn’t become trapped and die in its primary channel or media. How does a brand come to life across all its touch points and in a consistent manner? Through consistency in product design and software – all of which translate to a cohesive experience.

There are visible and physical languages, said Michael Lenz, Director, Global Brand Experience and Design at Cisco, but the human touch – using words to fulfill the brand promise – is often what is missing.

You don’t change your identity when switching jobs or locations, so why would your business change its voice depending on the channel? The marketing. The labels. The colors. All should deliver on your brand’s promise. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then take into account that the average Cisco user has 3,200 touch points. It hasn’t always been easy for them, either.

They knew there was a problem when one customer wrote-in, “I am a solid Cisco fan, but how many hours do they expect me to waste trying to understand their shit?” Yikes.

The problem was that no one understood what the hell Cisco was talking about. They had to undergo a massive overhaul to remove any engineering or product developer “speak” within their copy. It took several revisions, but the resulting copy became short and relevant; bold and human, Lenz said.

No one wants to read copy that is “too” anything: too educational, technical or clunky. Have you ever read Insurance policy packets? Painful. French author Marcel Proust? Brutal.

The next time you sit down to write, imagine that you’re a musician or composer. Consider that writing words on the page is no different than scribbling down musical notes to draft a song. Words, sentences, paragraphs and pages also need a melody and an obvious beat to them.

So, channel Taylor Swift the next time you’re tasked with drafting an article, marketing email or advertising copy. Her songs are so successful because they’re repetitive (most people must see or hear phrases eight-to-nine times before it sticks), but mostly because they’re simple.

 

Simplify your readability in these four steps:

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Office button image, and then click Word Options.
  2. Click Proofing.
  3. Make sure Check grammar with spelling is selected.
  4. Under When correcting grammar in Word, select the Show readability statistics check box.