Tag Archives: social media

Finding the Reality of ROI within HR

Ask yourself: Are you measuring activities or achievements? Are you focusing too much on HR training and learning and not enough on what’s driving the business? David Cohen, Founder and Senior Consultant at Strategic Action Group, Ltd., challenges human resources professionals and upper management leaders to define ROI in the way it was originally intended. Read on for more insight from David.

hrh media: How can human resources professionals sift through the multitude of metrics available at their fingertips to determine which are the most beneficial for their organization?

This is actually a simpler answer then one might think. The problem is sometimes we think we have to ‘prove’ too much to certain people. What we need to focus on are the analytics that will like the results of the interventions with their impact on improving the execution of the business strategy. Too many people are focused on measuring things that are interesting to human resources or training and learning but are not focused on what drives the business. The other important thing to remember is that we sometimes start measuring the activities and not the achievements.

hrh media: Once determined, how can organizations measure the effectiveness of these metrics?

Again, the effectiveness of the metric is looking at the impact it has on the business plan by looking at the results prior to the intervention and then look at the success level of the business execution after the intervention. The unfortunate part of that, especially for leadership development, is behavior change does not happen over night. It takes some time to be comfortable with the new behaviors, and as a result even more time before the change in behavior has a positive impact. So, getting the final measurement that proves the value of the intervention might take a year or more.

hrh media: How can human resource departments help upper management understand the long-term benefits of these measurements and ultimately turn the department from a cost center to a business driver?

I think that the issue is when we define ROI in the way ROI was originally intended, you are trying to do an estimate based on impact starting with how a new piece of equipment will have on productivity and profitability. This you know prior to making the purchase. When you are dealing with people measures; first, you will find estimations only an educated approximation. Second, you will never know for certain if it was the activity alone or something else in the internal or external environment that actually caused the impact, positive or negative, to the results of the activities.

I don’t think that measurement alone will move the perception of HR from a ‘cost center’ to a business driver. People have to emotionally feel that the actions that were taken are not worth the risk of living without. If the leaders do not make that emotional, visceral link that these actions provide a benefit to the business, then the result will be that the leader doesn’t wish to make the change of living without that activity. No matter how successful the activity was in positively impacting business results, the leader will not continue to support the initiative.

hrh media: What are some ways that organizations are making themselves more attractive to new and current employees?

This question is not related to measurement or workforce analytics but rather to the alignment of the person with the organization. By focusing on the person/organization fit, coupled with investment in the development of people for the improvement of both the person and the business organization, they will be more successful in making the company more attractive to new and current employees. Unfortunately, many organizations cut back significantly on the one action they can take to improve performance – the development of staff – and as a result people are looking to find places they can receive the development opportunities. This is a particular issue with Millennial employees.

But the issue of celebration of the culture and alignment of people with the culture is something that cuts across all generations at work. We are doing a lot of work with firms on defining the culture fit by defining the actual (not the aspirational) values of the company and employees are motivated and appreciate management paying attention to what actually exists and moving toward the value set that originally made the company great.

The Top 5 Reasons Big Data Is Valuable to Your Business

Have you started thinking about how your company will value and leverage your big data assets? If not, it’s time to play some catch up.

Cross industry businesses have welcomed big data analytics with open arms after seeing its benefits first hand. As proof, the McKinsey Global Institute delves deep into the benefits of big data in their report, “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity.” What they found were five, actionable reasons businesses need to jump into the practice with both feet. Here is what they determined:

1. Big Data Brings Improved Business Models, Products and Services

What’s with the flurry of excitement that accompanies each new generation of the iPad? The folks at Apple are pros at understanding what their customer needs – sometimes even before they do. Manufacturers now use data captured when consumers use their products to improve upon their existing offerings, thereby creating new and improved models that benefit the consumer and push them to buy.

2. Putting A Smile On the Face of Your Stakeholders

Improving transparency leads to improved quality of product and service. Big data can be made readily available to relevant stakeholders, which creates value by reducing search and processing time between departments, according to McKinsey. Big data keeps everyone in your department moving in the same direction.

3. Peek Into Personnel Performance

Upper management will be empowered by the collection of more accurate and detailed personnel performance data that can be reported in real or near real time. Find out instantly your company’s turnover rate or its total number of personnel sick days, according to the report, to try to understand the root causes of certain performance-based issues.

4. Customize Your Customer Experience

You’ve been segmenting your customers for years, but now it’s time to microsegment them. Big data empowers organizations to tailor their products and services to meet the very specific needs of each customer. An example the report gives is tailoring applications on a smartphone based on the owner’s personality.

5. Find the Algorithm Groove

According to McKinsey Global Institute, “Sophisticated analytics can substantially improve decision making, minimize risks, and unearth valuable insights that would otherwise remain hidden.” They site the following examples; tax agencies can flag candidates for further examination or retailers can use algorithms to fine-tune inventories or pricing structures.

Now is the time to jump on the big data bandwagon.

Write how the writers write

It’s important to think like a journalist when writing media material or press releases. We’ve already covered the “Five W’s” in How to write a press release, So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how writers write.

There’s a little thing in the newspaper/media world called AP style, or Associated Press style. AP style can unnerve media and non-media people alike. Why? Because some of the guidelines are forgettable and others just don’t make sense. (It took until last year for them to change “Web site” to “website” and some news media orgs still haven’t recognized the switch.)

Here are some tips on how journalists like to read:

1. Time — Days of the week are not abbreviated when accompanied by the exact date, but months are. For instance, today is Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012.

2. Exact time — Happy hour begins at 5 p.m. Neither ” 5:00 pm” nor PM is correct. In fact, beware of any capitalization or the much detested exclamation point.

3. Think of quotation marks as bookends. “They keep all punctuation marks and sentences and things together.”

4. Names — Use a person’s first and last name on first reference only. Thereafter, use only their last name, not their first. Additionally, do not use courtesy titles such as Mr. or Mrs.

5. State abbreviations do not match their postal abbreviations. For example, California is written not as Laguna Beach, CA, but Laguna Beach, Calif. Other slightly strange state abbreivations include West Virginia’s W.Va., Pennsylvania’s Pa., Tennessee’s Tenn., South Dakota’s S.D., and Kentucky’s K.Y.

Pinpointing the need for Pinterest

For awhile, I couldn’t quite sell myself on the value of Pinterest for businesses. It’s not that I didn’t love PInterest, my friends, in fact I was an early adopter and have hundreds of pins relating to my imaginary wedding. Who doesn’t?

Given my experience with the social media site — gowns, jewelry, paper products — I was remiss to believe Pinterest would add any real return on investment for businesses. However, after a bit more research I have changed my mind and now believe that any time a marketer can create a touch point for its target market then it is for the better.

I will now go forward and create a Pinterest account for my clients. Since four of them are newspaper companies, it will be easy to find regular content.

My plan is to start pinning photos attached to the most-read news articles, which of course will then redirect viewers to the respective website. Once the newsroom — and the C-suite — become accustomed to this I will proceed to pinning advertisements.

There remains a Chinese wall between the editorial and advertising departments in the media business. Where one department goes left, the other goes right. No longer can this be the case. The art department creates fantastically visual imagery in its advertisements — and their work needs to be showcased as much as the editorial work. The advantage of pinning advertisements will be increased pageviews, which can then lead to up-sells.

As I enter into the unchartered (for me) territory of pinning on behalf of businesses, and not just myself, would you offer me any advice?

Your sales funnel is the humpty dumpty of marketing

The Internet, well, it’s about people.

When you want an answer to a question, or if you’re seeking out inspiration or need insight on a problem, you go to Google. Your potential customers are the same as you — the Internet is the genie lantern of solutions that is right at their fingertips.

If you think the sales and marketing funnel is still shaped like a wide-mouthed funnel cone, then it’s time to reconsider your method. In short, the sales funnel is now the humpty dumpty of marketing. Broken. Sales and marketing generation is now a reciprocal, two-way conversation.

It’s time to think like a journalist.

Marketing professionals are starting to understand what media professionals have known all along: Content is King.

In order to attract new clientele to your business, you must start considering your lead for what they are — an individual with individual interests and concerns. (While you’re at it, cease referring to them as “leads.) Think like the client. How do they behave? What does their typical day look like? What are their core values?

When you can answer these questions, they will feel less like a transaction and you will be empowered to focus on forming a relationship with them.

One way to do this is to deliver value. Tailor your blog or social media strategy around your core constituency’s basic needs and interests. It will take time, but they will appreciate your effort. Just like in any “real” relationship, you should focus on building a bond with one another, enhancing their loyalty to you and encouraging your satisfied customers to advocate for your brand.

Clients can easily find out how and where your product is made, the level of your civic involvement and even how well you treat your employees. This knowledge effects their buying decisions, so you want to make sure you’re saying the right things. By behaving like a journalist, you will be in control of your message.

How to write a “How to” article

During a presentation on “How to Market Yourself to the Media,” an elderly architect and his wife were stupefied when I suggested they start a blog.

“Well, we don’t have anything to say …” and yada, yada, yada the conversation turned into how small business owners — and media companies alike — believe that potential clients outside their industry share their expertise.

Enter the “how to” article/blog post. One can literally write anything in “how to” form … from “how to tie your shoe” to “how to preserve vegetables” to “how to increase SEO by repeating ‘how to’ as many times as possible within a blog post.”

Don’t sell yourself short by assuming your clients share your knowledge. Instead, impart upon them, in the most conversational tone as possible, the wisdom you’ve incurred through the many years you’ve spent in your industry. Here’s a three-step guide on “‘how to write a ‘how to’ article:”

1. Name the problem.

Newspapers are printed on paper + kids these days haven’t seen a sheet of paper their whole lives = newspapers are dying.

2. Find the solution.

Teens are always on their phone + many professionals 35-60 years-old sit in front of a desk all day = capture an online audience and sell digital ads.

Provide tips:

1. Start by posting relevant content

2. Write to your target audience

3. Write posts frequently. Then more frequently. Then all the time.

4. Share photos.

5. Join Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest …

You get the picture.

The all-important “what NOT to do”

In any situation, there are definitely ways one should not behave. You’ve made mistakes along the way, so why not make sure others don’t do the same? Save them from common errors if you want to truly provide them with invaluable knowledge.

Small town social media

Technology has hampered our ability to communicate effectively with one another. One would think an infinitival amount of devices to support communication would lead to effective marketing strategies. This is not the case, especially when it comes to professional wordsmiths; newspapers.

Newspapers have an image problem — they’re viewed as the news source of yesteryear by younger generations. Local newspapers, on the other hand, are prime to make a turn around in today’s murky, print waters. Unlike their national news counterparts, such as The NY Times and The Washington Post, local newspapers aren’t losing ground with their middle-aged readership. Mothers and fathers want to know how the School Board budget will effect their kid’s classrooms. Commuters are opinionated on who and what is being decided on when it comes to their roads.

Yet local newspapers are still not monetizing on their base readership. Why is this? In our efforts to not fall behind, or fall apart, we’ve overreached and over extended our offerings. We’ve tried to be emulate craigslist. We’ve tried to mirror the popularity of Facebook and Tumblrs photo sharing in print society pages. It hasn’t worked. It’s time to get back to the basics. It’s time to be a small town, small business again.

Be honest.

It’s time to get real. With your limited staff, what can you do well? Look around you. If your online reader were standing in front of you, how would you sell your product to them? Your online business mission statement or philosophy should be no different than your “in person” philosophy. One of my clients, a local newspaper in one of the richest counties in the nation, has the philosophy that it is a family owned business covering news, sports and entertainment for the community. We are able to track our reader demographic so that we can tailor our reportage to our reader. For the client, this means writing blogs and topics that speak to men and women aged 35-44. Conversely, and down the road, we need to conduct market research on why we aren’t capturing the eyeballs of 25-34 year-olds or 45 to 60 year-olds.

Assess your competition.

If you’re a small town business or media organization, chances are your competition is not vast. That doesn’t mean your one competitor isn’t doing well. Stop beating yourselves up about how many sales they make or how much press coverage they receive. Start assessing what makes your business valuable. What product or service do you have that they don’t? Who has been around longer? Maybe you take longer to produce your work, but when you do finish up the quality of your product is bar none. When you start seeing your business for its uniqueness, there in lies its value. Slowly start posting photos of your product on social media sites. Remember to do so without being sales-y. Remind people of how you’ve been in business for 25 years and thank them for it. After all, without your customers you wouldn’t still be in business. It’s not all about you.

Make a long-term investment.

Everybody knows everybody in a small town. This means they will also know how you conduct your business. If you make a commitment to invest in your community, this will return to your bottom line 10 fold. I worked with an IT firm whose CEO spent at least one day a week volunteering for a non-profit or community-based organization. Every time he attended an event or meeting he posted about it on social media outlets and uploaded photos, even if it was just a mention of the other organization. He initially entered into these relationships because he wanted to understand the environment in which his employees lived and worked. After years of continued investments, he still picks up partnerships with other high-powered business owners simply by showing he cares.