Is your organisation investing in your greatest asset? As the global marketplace shifts, organisations are attempting to find new ways to remain competitive and innovative. Recent trends have seen Australian employers investing more in their human resources than ever before, despite the advancement of automation and robotics. By investing in their people, Australian companies are able to better manage change, encounter difficulties, and leverage new technologies.
The Future of Work: Harmony between Robots and Humans
As the current labor force generation retires, employers are going to see labor shortages. Populations are decreasing, work perspectives are changing and though work remains the same, there are fewer employees available to fill the open slots. At the same time, many industries are also moving towards an increase in automation and robotics — the future of work lies in automated services, artificial intelligence, and robotic controls. Yet these automated services are going to need to be controlled, fine-tuned, and optimised by someone.
While low-level work is likely to be automated, higher-level work is going to become more important than ever. Employers are going to need to court the best talent to be competitive, and they may find themselves selecting from a smaller pool of sought-after candidates.
Here are some ways in which successful companies are adjusting to this new market.
- Named the third best “large workspace” in the Asia-Pacific Region
- Uses physical exercise to reinforce teamwork and company culture
- Encourages innovation even when the innovation isn’t profitable
Employees at some offices of the Atlassian begin their day with a Pushups and Planks workout schedule: a physical testament to the company’s strong culture. Meanwhile, company “ShipIt” days give employees the opportunity to innovate on any project they want. These initiatives are designed to encourage employees to work together, build camaraderie and teamwork, and improve each employee’s relationship with the business.
- Named sixth among small and medium workplaces in Asia.
- Supports more than 200 employees in 12 countries.
- Describes its mission as being “a force for good.”
Food is where the heart is. Canva brought in its own executive chef to cook meals for its 80-staff members, at a cost of approximately $10 a day. With vegan and vegetarian options available, Canva hopes to fuel their employees’ energy and productivity through better tasting, more nutritious food. Many companies are paying more attention to employee health, with the idea that a healthy employee is more likely to be focused and effective.
- Continually cited as one of the best places in which to work in Australia
- Provides flexible working arrangements to its employees
- Intentionally hires only those who fit into its company culture
Envato’s employment strategy is quite unique. Employees are allowed to work from anywhere they want for up to three months a year. This is apart from the many tech-friendly amenities Envato provides, such as milk bars, game tables, and consoles. By letting employees work from anywhere in the world, they get happier, more satisfied employees who are likewise willing to work harder.
- Named the ninth best workplace in Asia
- Builds on a foundation of six core values
- Committed to diversity, inclusiveness, and charity
Rackspace focuses on what it calls a purpose-driven culture, encouraging employees to give their time through volunteering and going the extra mile for their customers. Rackspace employees have 24 hours of paid volunteer time that they can use to make a difference, which contributes to the company culture of meaningful change.
Rackspace itself also maintains Racker Resource Groups, which offers employees networking opportunities and support. An example is RackParents, a group in which new parents can connect. These efforts foster a relationship with employees that goes beyond a company, turning it into a community.
What Can We Learn from These Companies?
Organisations such as Atlassian, Canva, Envato, and Rackspace are investing in their employee health and satisfaction, improving their work-life balance, and creating strong company cultures. The above companies encourage camaraderie between team members and foster a strong relationship between the company and its employees. All of this combines to create an environment that is happier and more productive, with greater levels of employee retention and the ability to procure even greater talent.
Creating Stronger Businesses through Employees
With the modern workforce shifting, it will become imperative for companies to find the best talent. Organisations must engage the C-suite when creating a stronger workplace environment, with the understanding that the workforce is about to change. Prior generations will retire and companies need to consider that newer generation workforces prioritise a feeling of meaning and well-being in their environment. Though artificial intelligence and robotics will fill some gaps, it won’t be able to fill everything.
From digital transformation to the new workforce, modern business is changing and it can be difficult to keep up. If you want to learn more about supporting your business in this new landscape, you need to connect and network with others within your industry. To learn more, contact TEC.
From Twitter to SnapChat, many of the most recognisable corporations in the world are making virtually no profit. Square, FedEx, and Amazon aren't just industry giants; they also weren't able to make a dollar for five years. That hardly makes them unsuccessful businesses — rather, key success measures have changed. Organisations across all industries are finding that they need to develop their reach before moving into profitability and that, indeed, they may not be moving towards traditional monetisation schedules at all. It's possible for an organisation to make money for shareholders without making money for itself — and it's also possible for a business to grow dramatically without income.
Customer Satisfaction and Brand Reputation
Customer satisfaction is one of the most critical success factors for a business — and for good reason. It takes time to build faith with your customer base, while losing faith can be accomplished overnight. Profit can be built internally, but turning around the public perception of a brand takes a good deal of outreach. A business must be focused on meeting customer needs and managing how its brand is perceived by its customers. A single , from Qantas to McDonald's. Mitigate this potential damage by keeping track of public sentiment, and by measuring customer satisfaction following interactions.
Company Culture and Employee Retention
Do your employees work hard for your business? Are they likely to stay with your business or do they already have one foot out the door? Employee culture and satisfaction is a key component to the longevity and sustainability of a business. Employees are more likely to achieve high productivity when they find meaning in their work, feel their contributions are valued, and feel their job utilises their strengths and talents. Moreover, high employee churn ultimately leads to high costs and poor customer care.
A satisfied employee won't just be more productive, they will also work to improve their organisation through innovation. They will go above and beyond for customers and management, and will therefore be able to improve upon the company's overall reputation.
When it comes to a scientific study, the study itself is only as important as the accuracy of its data. Studying company success is no different. If you cannot successfully manage and analyse your data, you won't be able to determine whether you're moving toward or away from success. Knowledge management systems are designed to track and analyse indicator metrics, thereby making it easier for an organisation to learn about itself. Without appropriate knowledge management, a business cannot know whether or not it is truly successful.
Knowledge management comes from internal discipline, processes, and continually evolving strategies. Businesses must be willing to audit their knowledge management processes, adjusting it as they go. They must be able to utilise their performance metrics across all levels, from employees and management to logistics and shipping, and must be able to create real and actionable conclusions from their reporting.
Digital Return-On-Investment and Customer Acquisition
Twitter, Facebook, and even Uber — the key to their success isn't measured in profitability, but rather in customer acquisition. These businesses may not be making tremendous profits, but they are scoring revenue, by managing their advertising return-on-investment and by expanding aggressively into new markets. This is quite a different world than what the C-suite may be accustomed to.
Businesses today need to consider not only their revenue streams but also their potential for supporting new growth. As they continue to expand, they also push out the competition. Sometimes breaking even is all they need to do; in fact, some businesses like Uber are willing to operate in the red for some time with the knowledge that they can outlast the competition.
This is where customer acquisition becomes important. As long as a business is acquiring customers it is building value. Customers themselves have value, as it is possible in many ways for the customer to become the product.
Social Media and Brand Awareness
Modern organisations rise and fall based on their social media presences. A social media presence can suddenly bring a business back from the brink of death; as well, it can close the casket on a thriving business that has taken a highly visible misstep. Social media is everywhere; information about businesses can propagate like a flash fire. It's your job to make sure that information about your business is positive, and that if anything goes viral, it's marketing.
Brand awareness, in and of itself, is a measure of success. A highly recognisable company name has intrinsic value, even if the company has not reached profitability. Investors will look upon a business favourably if it has built out its influence in this way. There are many businesses that have been able to build their social media reach and brand awareness while still being pre-revenue.
Modern organisations are looking at a substantially different landscape than before. They must be willing to measure success differently, in a world in which businesses are often building value without building their financial performance. By exploring alternative methods of success scoring, businesses can focus on what they do best — building value for their shareholders.
TEC: The Executive Connection
Disruption is going to continue occurring, and business is going to change dramatically even in the next ten years. Mentorship and connections with colleagues can help in navigating this difficult terrain. With The Executive Connection, you can connect with like-minded individuals throughout the world, learning about trends, and growing as an executive with the advice and direction of others.
Nothing drives success quite like some competition. In order to gain some leverage against the competition, CEOs must first understand the competitors they’re stacked up against and compare it to their company financials to track how their own performance is measuring up. Like a sports team watching a film to learn more about the team they’re facing, CEOs can garner a lot of valuable insights by benchmarking their company against their competitors.
In this guide, we’ll look at how you can use the financial reports of your competitors to gauge the success of your own company and devise a strategy that allows you to rise above the competition.
Important benchmarks to consider
When comparing the current state of your company to the current state of other, similar companies that you are in competition with, there are many important data points for you to consider. These data points include:
- Operating costs
- Gross profits
- Net profits
- Sales trends and profitability trends
- Marketing expenses as a percentage of gross revenue
- Cost per employee
- Revenue per employee
- The ratio of revenue to fixed assets
Once you’ve identified your competitors, comparing these data points to that of your company allows you to determine how well you are performing against the competition. Since competing companies will likely be operating a business very similar to your own, it’s valuable to have the means to analyse and learn from how they’re running their operations while saving costs to generate higher profits. Doing it this way may also reveal constant bottlenecks in your operation and highlight key areas where there is room for improvement. Likewise, identifying these key areas enables you to use them as a leverage so you can set yourself further apart and always be one step ahead of the competition.
Where to find financial data on your competitors
One easy way to garner loads of information on your competitors is to hire a consulting firm that has access to a large databank of industry data as well as individual company data to produce a comprehensive report that compares and contrasts your company against its competitors. However, if you wish to produce this report in-house, there are plenty of resources available so you can find the data points outlined above both in your industry and the individual companies you are in competition with. These resources include:
- The Australia Bureau of Statistics. The Australian Bureau of statistics offers data on sales trends based on industry, product, and geography. Combined, this data can help you compare your own sales trends against the sales trends of the competition.
- The Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business. The Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business provides information on employee wages per industry, enabling you to conclude how your cost per employee compares to the average amount of money other companies in your industry are spending on their employees.
- Risk Management Association. The data provided by the Risk Management Association is the data that most banks use to evaluate a company, making it an invaluable resource for benchmarking your own company.
- Morningstar – Morningstar provides comprehensive financial data on publicly traded companies. While this resource is most often used by investors, the same data can be used for benchmarking purposes.
- Dun & Bradstreet – Dun & Bradstreet offers a wealth of data on individual companies, including sales data, important ratios, balance sheet data, data on employees and their earnings, and much more.
These, of course, are just a few of the resources available for unearthing enormous amounts of data both on individual competitors and industry averages. With a little time and a few expenses, you should have no problem finding enough data to thoroughly benchmark your business.
The value of benchmark-based goal setting
Goal setting is one of the most important things CEOs can do to achieve a benchmark that their whole team can strive for. However, it’s important not to set these goals at random. If the financial goals you set for your business are too high, you risk setting an impossible standard that hurts morale when it is not met. If your goals are too low, your company could end up meeting its goals and still underperforming.
This is why benchmark-based goal setting is so valuable. Once you determine how well your competitors are performing across a wide range of metrics, you can use that data to set goals for your own company. Since these goals will be based on the performance of other companies in your industry, benchmark-based goals largely eliminate the concern that the goals you set will be too high or too low.
Setting goals based on the performance of your competitors is just one of many ways you can use the data you’ve garnered from your competition’s financials to drive the strategy of your own company. By taking the time to benchmark your company, you’ll gain a better understanding of your company’s performance and be in a much better position to rise above the competition.
TEC gives you access to one-to-one executive coaching and mentoring sessions with experienced business leaders who can help you achieve this. Contact TEC today to find out more.
Related article: How to stay motivated and stick to your goals by TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach, Richard Appleby
It’s not your imagination: business is changing at a much faster pace than ever before. What was once considered market disruption is now commonplace — and CEOs are finding it necessary to evolve quickly. It’s time for all CEOs to revisit old strategies and explore new opportunities, investments, and trends. With that in mind, here are some of the most important areas CEOs need to consider in 2018.
1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
AI and machine learning are starting to become widespread, showing extensive growth throughout 2017. Through AI and machine learning, businesses are able to automate and streamline their business processes, reducing the amount of necessary workforce they need as well as potential errors or bottlenecks within their operations. Companies such as Coca-Cola Amatil have been able to improve their market share by using AI in their business analytics.
Many industries are still exploring how artificial intelligence and machine learning can fit into their business structure. At the same time, more advanced and robust AI and machine learning solutions are being released. Many organisations will never need to develop their own AI system, but instead will take advantage of third-party resources that include it within their offerings.
2. Freelance workers and virtual office spaces
From Amazon to Apple, many businesses are now embracing the remote worker. Businesses are now finding talent from all over the world, as technology has made it easier for businesses and employees to operate effectively from anywhere. With cloud-based document storage and communication suites, businesses can operate virtually almost entirely.
For employees, remote work has proven to be more accessible and attractive, and thus the employers who offer remote work are often able to procure better talent. For employers, remote workers reduce the overhead for the organisation and make it easier for them to scale up as needed.
3. Social responsibility and inclusiveness in company culture
Organisations are now taking proactive steps towards social responsibility. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and many high-profile harassment cases, many businesses have taken an active role in developing internal policies meant to reduce harassment and discrimination.
In 2017, companies ranging from Uber to Tesla were accused of discrimination in the workplace. These accusations have taken a significant toll on these companies, both in terms of legal fees and public perception. Social responsibility is now being explored in terms of risk management and prevention, to better understand the contributing factors, and minimise overall risk.
4. Automation of tasks and robotic workforces
From industrial robots to virtual ones, organisations are now transitioning towards increased automation. Task automation increases productivity, reduces risk, and positively impacts an organisation’s bottom line. Businesses are able to capitalise on automation to improve their scalability and reduce their overhead.
5. Digital marketing and global analytics
Even many local businesses are tapping into the advertising potential of digital marketing. With the increased ability to pare down to a specific audience and geo-target a specific region, digital marketing has become the primary solution for businesses trying to reach out. Both on a B2B and B2C level, it’s become necessary for organisations to boost their digital marketing to continue bringing in traffic and interest.
At the same time, organisations now need to explore their advertising analytics to determine whether their strategies are effective. Analytics may combine technologies from artificial intelligence or from machine learning to find information on which strategies are and aren’t working.
6. Managing cybersecurity threats and risk management
According to our latest CEO Confidence Index report, cybersecurity threats are now a major concern for CEOs. Yet, 37% of organisations surveyed by The Executive Connection do not have
a cybersecurity strategy that is documented or communicated to executive leaders. Download the full report to find out the challenges faced by Australia CEOs today and where their focus will be for 2018. CEOs are going to have to react to this increase risk if they are to mitigate risk for their organisation. In 2018, CEOs are going to need to take some additional steps towards improving their security. This may include running security audits or investing in next-generation cybersecurity solutions.
Many organisations will also be investing in cybersecurity insurance, to reimburse them for the costs associated with a data security breach. The cost of a data breach often amounts to millions.
Where are you focusing this year?
Ultimately, 2018 is about new, emerging forms of technology, and integrating this technology into current business workflows and strategies. It’s also become a more culturally conscious world, in which businesses are required to be empathic, morally conscious entities, and a brand identity has to evolve its own social and environmental awareness. Depending on industry, CEOs may want to look towards updating both their organisation’s technologies and their company culture.
Being a CEO changes from year to year, and there are a tremendous number of potential missteps. In order to make the right decisions, you often need well-educated, qualified advice. TEC can help. Through our monthly meetings, you can reach out to a number of CEOs, professionals, and entrepreneurs, who have also been updating their techniques and their operations. Contact TEC today.
According to the Confidence Index report, CEOs are exceptionally confident in the domestic economy and expect to see an increase in both sales and profitability in the year to come. This optimism is likely to have a direct impact on the market and will drive the strategy for many Australian businesses in 2018.
Sales revenue and profitability are leading targets.
By 2018, 76 percent of CEOs believe they can increase revenue while 73 percent believe they can increase profitability. However, this change isn’t being seen as driven by price increases. If revenue and profitability are to be improved at the same price points, companies will need to expand into new markets, grow their operations, and innovate. A potential barrier to this may be the increasing difficulties in both acquiring and retaining top talent.
Confidence in the economy will influence operational strategies.
CEOs confident in the economy and in their own profitability will be more likely to expand their businesses, purchase inventory, and invest in assets. In so doing, they will also be strengthening the economy and improving upon the very same market factors that they are relying upon as indicators. CEOs in 2018 are likely to continue investing in growth and expansion as their confidence increases.
CEOs should be aware of the bright outlook in the Australian economy and the consequences of current perception. Many companies are likely to begin expansion now, which may increase competition in certain sectors. As CEOs will be more willing to take risks, all businesses will need to improve upon their own fundamentals to remain competitive. CEOs looking towards improved profit and revenue will also need to create a strategic plan to work towards this growth.
It’s easy for a business to become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of marketing data that it has collected. But marketing data isn’t just “data”, it is critical to improving and directing a marketing strategy. Just as logistics and shipping analysis is necessary for fine-tuning business operations, marketing data is necessary for identifying potential opportunities and points of failure. But because every business is different, the metrics that are important to a particular strategy may also differ. Companies need to be knowledgeable about different types of metric if they are to isolate the ones that are relevant to them.
- Visits to the website
In terms of audience metrics, there are two important ways to count visits — total traffic and per user. Total traffic encompasses the number of individuals visiting your website. Services such as Google Analytics can even show you real-time dashboard results regarding how many users are active right now. Total traffic should always be trending upwards year-on-year. Often, the per user visits may be more important. Analytics services can also track how many times an individually recognised user has visited your site. This shows how much of your audience you are retaining. Customers average six to eight connections with a brand before conversion.
- New sessions
When a user visits a website, all of their activity is considered to be a “session.” The amount of new sessions is an effective metric to assess your brand awareness – Is this increasing over time? For growth campaigns, new sessions can be used to track the performance of outreach initiatives. More new sessions mean an expanding audience, while a decrease can indicate a plateau in market saturation or a loss of interest. Sessions can be combined with other metrics — such as how long the user stays on the site, how many pages they visit, and whether they come back.
- Sources of traffic
Where is your audience coming from? Search engines, advertising campaigns, the monthly newsletter, social channels and direct links will all be recorded under sources of traffic. If your website is being primarily accessed through search engines, then your SEO campaign is healthy and working. If your website is being primarily accessed through social media accounts, then your social media campaigns are working. Your “sources of traffic” analysis tells you which components of your marketing strategy are most effective — and which components need more work.
- Bounce rate
Sometimes users may reach a website and then immediately leave it without taking a further action. This can happen for a variety of reasons — the page was slow to load, the content was something they did not expect, they did not like the design of the website or they simply became distracted. Regardless, a high bounce rate generally indicates that something has gone wrong.
Campaign performance metrics
- Conversion rate
The conversion rate is often the most important metric in a marketing campaign. Conversion is commonly used to refer to a user making a purchase; converting from a user to a customer. But that isn’t the only type of conversion. Conversion rates can also be used to track newsletter sign ups, contact us forms, brochure downloads, or free trials — it all depends on the strategy. Many campaigns focus primarily on increasing the conversion rate, which means paring down to users that are most likely to convert, and attempting to secure more of these users.
Click through ratings are used to track when customers interact with links, whether through blog links, email marketing, or paid ads. If customers aren’t clicking through, they aren’t converting. This could mean that the marketing copy and design is not engaging or is not reaching the right audience. A low CTR generally indicates the need for a clearer or more compelling call to action.
- Customer acquisition cost
Customer acquisition cost, in its simplest form, is the amount that you spend on marketing divided by the number of customers gained. How much is the marketing team spending to acquire one customer? By tracking customer acquisition costs, you can optimise your strategies to make the most out of your advertising dollar. If you have multiple campaigns working at once, it may be difficult to isolate the cost of each individual strategy. In these situations, split-testing and granular tracking of each separate campaign may be necessary.
- Social media and content engagement
Likes, shares, follows and comments all show positive levels of engagement. These metrics are used to assess what content best works with your audience. As with high levels of traffic and recurring sessions, social media engagement improved the odds that users will convert, in addition to extending brand identity and general brand awareness.
Long-term marketing metrics
- Customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value is calculated by averaging the amount that a customer will spend with a business throughout their entire relationship. For each customer, there is both the cost of acquisition and the cost of retention. Lowering these costs and increasing customer spending will increase revenue. Low customer lifetime value may indicate that a company is not effectively retaining customers.
- Net Promoter Score
Net promoter scores, measured on a scale from -100 to 100, indicate the willingness of current customers to refer others to a business. Essentially, it is a metric that reflects word-of-mouth reputation. Net promoter scores are solid indicators of customer loyalty. Low net promoter scores may indicate that a business needs to improve its products or its customer service.
Depending on your individual marketing strategy, you may use only a few of these metrics — or you may use nearly all of them. Your campaign may be focused on building awareness, improving revenue, or both. Regardless, a solid understanding of the metrics available is the first step towards creating a well-rounded and well-optimised strategy. By consistently tracking the right metrics, your organisation will be able to compare different initiatives and improve upon them. But that also requires experience and knowledge. At TEC, individuals are able to reach out to peers who are exploring and discovering the same marketing strategies and advancements. Contact TEC today to learn more about the benefits of an on-demand and exclusive peer-to-peer executive network.
63 percent of businesses now report that generating traffic and leads is one of their top marketing challenges. A few decades ago, it was commonplace for consumers to rely on advertising that was sent to them — television and radio advertisements, physical mailers, and even billboards. In the early days of the Internet, marketers sought to replicate the impact of this type of advertising through pop up ads, banner ads, and interstitial ads.
But very quickly, an entirely new way of marketing has emerged — inbound marketing.
In inbound marketing, customers are targeted with great content so they are directed to the business themselves, given that it can provide them with the information and insights they need.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Commercials, physical mailers, and magazine ads are all forms of “outbound” advertising. Companies send these highly promotional advertisements to customers with the express purpose of getting them to commit.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is marketing that promotes great content and makes it available to customers in a way that points them back to the company. Inbound marketing encompasses corporate websites, social media accounts, blogs, and other content repositories. Inbound marketing is notable primarily because the consumer is entirely in control of the whole interaction. Brands give them the data they need so they can choose the brand themselves.
Let’s check out how inbound marketing works when buying a car.
Decades ago, consumers were fed with various advertisements for local car dealerships — this is how they got to decide which dealership to go for and select from the cars they have available.
Today, a consumer is more likely to google different car models first before deciding on what car to buy for themselves. They will then do an independent research on car dealerships available in their area, read online reviews to check for trustworthiness and reputation, and then check if they have the car of their choice available.
To appropriately capture inbound marketing, modern companies need to be aware of both buyer personas (representatives of their key demographics) and buyer journeys (the process of purchasing that a buyer undergoes). Learning more about your buyers personas and supporting them as they go through the buyer journey is a key way to improve conversion and engagement.
The stages of Inbound Marketing strategy
Attract: In an inbound marketing strategy, the goal is to attract consumers at the very first stages of the buyer journey. When looking for new products and services, 65 percent of smartphone users search for relevant information first — regardless of where it comes from. In real estate, a real estate agent may want to attract buyers who are looking into home financing or sellers who are looking into remodelling a home for sale.
Convert: Once you’ve successfully attracted the consumer’s attention, the need to promote great content is essential to drive them to convert. Through a great content strategy, marketers will want to showcase how their product is superior to others. From the scenario above, a real estate agent can do this by establishing trustworthiness and authority through timely and valuable content.
Close: Marketers are often only able to directly engage with consumers when closing. All content must be tilted towards a clear and concise call to action. The call to action directs a consumer further along their buyer journey, ultimately leading to closing a deal. Using the same example, a real estate agent would urge ready buyers and sellers to connect with them directly.
Delight: With consumers given more control, retained customers have become even more important. After closing a sale, marketers need to get in touch with their clientele to make sure they have everything they need and check if they were fully satisfied with the process. By driving customer loyalty, you ensure repeat business.
Channels used for Inbound Marketing
Social media: Consumers enjoy interacting with brands directly. Social media accounts can be used to distribute content, engage with consumers, and actively respond to any questions and concerns.
Blog posts: Blogging is an effective way for companies and professionals to build up a repository of great content. 53 percent of marketers report that blog posts are their top inbound marketing strategy.
Word of mouth: Consumers often ask friends and family for advice when looking for big ticket purchases. In fact, 64 percent of marketing executives believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. An effective word-of-mouth strategy nearly always come from previous clientele.
Search engine optimisation: Consumers need to be able to find a business to interact with it. When consumers have questions in mind, SEO directs them to the right answers. An SEO campaign relies upon keywords and high-quality content to promote brand and businesses.
Online video: There are many third-party platforms dedicated to online video, which provides a mix of social media engagement and an engaging video content.
Email marketing: Consumers are often interested in further information from brands and companies they trust. Signing up for an email newsletter provides consumers the opportunity to learn more about the brand and in turn, gives companies direct access to consumers on a regular basis.
Building an Inbound Marketing strategy
There are many types of inbound marketing strategy — and different types of strategy work well for different companies, industries, and demographics. Building an effective strategy that is universal and can be used in a massive scale is impossible. Everything needs to be tailored to the customer’s needs. Marketers, instead, need to ensure that they have a strategic plan and that they are able to adapt to this plan as needed.
A marketing plan should consist of a clear goal, solid metrics, and methods of optimisation. Goals may range from improving engagement to building sales revenue, depending on the company’s current advertising strategy. Metrics must be directly related to goals to track the performance of the strategy and optimisation must be completed on a regular basis to ensure that the strategy remains effective.
Not sure whether your business is in need of an inbound strategy?
- Do you use your website to sell your product or service?
- Does your target audience use the internet to research topics related to your product or service?
- Do you want to expand your customer base beyond your company’s geographic location?
- Do you have expertise to share?
Marketing is continuously evolving and businesses need to keep up in order to stay relevant. CEOs, entrepreneurs, and high-level professionals must be well-versed in these new marketing strategies if they are to survive the technological disruption and consumer revolution that is to come. Modern consumers are now looking to make more intelligent choices on their purchases, giving tech-savvy companies an opportunity to grow and an opportunity to outpace slower competition.
But when something as intrinsic to a business as marketing strategies change, there may be a myriad of other adjustments that need to be made as well. Consulting with other key stakeholders within your industry is one of the best ways to learn how to adjust your strategy and avoid common pitfalls.
TEC provides access to a strong peer-to-peer network of executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals that offer peer-to-peer consulting on the massive changes that are impacting businesses today. Contact TEC now to find out more.
Businesses need to move with the times, something that Tom Eckersley quickly realised when he took over his father’s company, Eckersley Group, with his brother in 1991. Providing a broad range of printed materials to businesses across Australia, the introduction of the digital age has meant Tom’s had to update his product and service offering frequently in order to remain relevant.
Keeping pace with digital transformation
“The advent of digital technology has completely changed the way both our customers and we as a business look at printed products,” explains Tom. “Marketing has undergone huge transformations – our clients are connecting with their customers in completely different ways, everyone is trying to decide on the best medium to communicate through, and there’s now a far greater range of products to choose from.”
Rather than seeing the digital transformation as a challenge to overcome, Eckersley Group chose to work directly with new technology to provide a range of innovative, highly relevant products. These mainly focus around targeting printed media to increase engagement. “Instead of printing a generic brochure that goes out to 100,000 people, we’ll now produce 1,000 but they’ll be aimed at a specific sector or group. We’ll use data to individually personalise content, and through this we’ll increase engagement.”
From the business end, the technology Eckersley Group uses to produce material has changed dramatically over the years. Tom’s invested in a range of new technologies to keep up with this, particularly digital production equipment. “We decided it was best to concentrate on a few core activities rather than a broad range of service offerings. This has meant we’ve been able to carve out a niche slice of the market without over-stretching ourselves.”
A dynamic duo
The print industry is one where, as Tom explains, dynamism is key. “We need to be incredibly responsive to the market, we can’t work on one model from yesteryear, we need to change our business model constantly in order to keep up with the pace of technological transformation.”
Tom and his brother realised that, in recent years, there’s a clear need for an end-to-end supply solution in the print industry. Eckersley Group responded to this by focusing on logistics. “We’re no longer just providing the product. Instead, we’re looking at end-to-end solutions, including supply, warehousing and distribution into our offering,” says Tom.
It’s this dynamism that’s gotten Eckersley Group to where it is today – a highly successful business that’s developed and grown over the years, taking on a number of other printing companies and adding them into the core. This has enabled Tom and his brother to receive acclaim from the print community, winning Craftsman Awards consistently for the quality of work they produce.
An outside perspective
In a family business like Eckersley Group, where meetings can take place around the dining room table as much as in the office, it’s essential to get an outside perspective. For Tom, TEC was able to provide that objectivity. “I met someone many years ago who was having a similar experience to me in terms of running a family business. He mentioned TEC and suggested that I go along to one of the meetings. From there, I never looked back. TEC’s given us that broader range of input and objectivity that we needed. When you’re in a family business, you’re so involved with everything and you have been all your life, so it’s important to get some perspective.”
As well as talking over issues around the table, Tom also enjoys hearing from the public speakers that TEC brings in. “The speakers bring a different dimension, they bring a lot of expertise to a particular topic, whereas with the group we can get that broader advice. Both have worked really well in improving my decision making at Eckersley Group.”
Established in: 1971 (Tom and his brother took over in 1991)
Size: 30 staff and around 1,000 clients
Markets: Australian SMEs, corporates, governments, some individuals especially book publishers
Product range: 1,000s of productions over 100 different categories, covering all marketing materials, printed matter and business stationery, both from a digital production and a traditional offset production point of view
60% of Australian small businesses will fail within the first three years. When polled, 44% of failed Australian businesses suffered from ‘poor strategic management’ and 40% ‘fell victim to inadequate cash flow.’ Many of these businesses failed not because of a lack of opportunity but because they were not able to properly define their market and execute related strategies. In fact, small businesses have been opening more often throughout Australia due to favourable economic conditions; though all the components for success may be there, the focus and the market research is not.
Since 2002, Norwest Recruitment has operated with a simple goal: connecting businesses to the talent they need to grow and thrive. With over 20 business awards — and a ranking of 47th on the BRW Fast 100 — Norwest Recruitment has been a clear success in the competitive market of permanent and temporary employee recruitment. Erica Westbury, CEO of Norwest Recruitment, has achieved this success not only by identifying the commercial and residential growth within the North West but by also committing fully to the opportunities it represented.
Embrace the challenge
In Australia, recruitment services is not a growing industry. In fact, it experienced a downsizing of -0.4% between 2012 and 2017. This is significant, as nearly all sectors experienced growth. Since 2002, the unemployment rate in Australia has been generally falling, with a peak in 2009 and again in 2015. With this information in hand, it might be easy to think that a recruitment agency wouldn’t be able to succeed.
But it was a thorough understanding of the local market that led Erica to her conclusions. Erica realised that the recruitment agencies that already existed in Norwest Business Park weren’t offering premium-level professional services. Recruitment services were being ignored because they offered both poor customer service and a substandard talent pool. Recruitment services had developed a bad reputation.
By understanding the challenges facing the recruitment industry — one of poor reputation and a flooded workforce — Erica was able to position Norwest Recruitment in an area of the market that was not yet filled. By offering premium temporary and professional talent, she was able to sidestep issues related to low unemployment rates and a stagnant market. Norwest Recruitment became a resource through which HR departments could find the best professional talent. And this was something businesses would always need, even when the market was flooded.
Do it better
When asked about competition tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, once said, ‘If other people are putting in 40-hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100-hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what takes them a year to achieve.’
Businesses need to view their competition as a benchmark and should always be attempting to improve upon their work product. For Norwest Recruitment, it wasn’t just about providing a better talent pool. It was also about providing a better experience, refining processes, and reducing overhead. Businesses today need to be able to stay ahead of their technology, pivot when the market changes, and understand their customer’s needs. Often, a business will even be called upon to anticipate market and customer changes long before the change occurs.
Erica knew that in order to break into the market of recruitment and employment, she had to be able to do it better. There are hundreds of options available for companies that simply want access to a talent pool, but it was better customer service that many HR departments were looking for. By improving upon customer service and putting clients first, Erica was already a step ahead in the game.
The risk in decision-making
As a CEO, you’re faced with difficult decisions every day. Making challenging decisions can be the difference between success or failure, it could even change the entire course of your business. It is easy to fall into the habit of choosing the safest decision to achieve expected results and avoid the risk of being wrong. This may decrease risk but it does not improve results.
It is essential, as a business owner, to remain committed to your choice and be aware that no matter what option you choose, your efforts to support the success is far more important than the cost of being ‘wrong’. Erica’s decision to build a business in a saturated market was associated with great risk. The focus was not on whether this was the right decision to make – rather Erica did everything she could to ensure that her decision turned out right. The success of this is reflected in the 15 business awards won by Norwest Recruitment, including the 2014 Hills Local Business Awards, the 2011 Fairfield City Local Business Award, and the NPAWorldwide Australia/New Zealand Top Revenue Achieved Award.
Learn from other business owners
Business owners must never stop learning. Not only is there a wealth of knowledge out there available from other business owners, but the market itself may change with the times. Business owners need to stay on top of new technology, need to refine their leadership skills and learn new management techniques. They must understand modern accounting standards and have the strategy skills necessary to grow and expand in often challenging marketplaces.
Through TEC, Erica was able to reach out to other business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals. She was able to listen to experienced and accomplished TEC speakers and connect to a like-minded community that could offer her support and resources. Through this professional community connection, Erica was further able to build her knowledge and confidence as a leader. It’s time you belong to a peer network and learn from the best. Get in touch with TEC today.
Growth is a balancing act. Grow too quickly, and you run the risk of over-extending your organisation. Grow too slowly, and you may be eclipsed by the competition.
Growth is critical for an organisation to survive, yet two-thirds of the fastest-growing companies will fail. This is because growth operates as an accelerator: all the positives and negatives of a business are amplified during a growth phase, and businesses that are not prepared for rapid growth will quickly find themselves falling apart.
Limited resources, exhausted employees, and a disruptive work environment can all eventually take its toll, even on a business that appeared to have strong fundamentals.
In order to handle growth, a business needs to start with a firm foundation.
Training and retaining your employees during growth
Employee retention is the top concern for employers in 2017 — and rapid expansion only compounds this problem. Not only are human assets the foundation of any business, but losing human assets during the process of expansion can be exceptionally disruptive. The cost of training a new employee can be many times that employee’s monthly salary, and cycling through employees during a growth cycle is a fast track towards business disruption.
During expansion, employees may find themselves having their day-to-day tasks interrupted with a continuous flow of challenges. They may not feel as though a structure is in place to adequately reward them for meeting these challenges — and ultimately they may find themselves fatigued. During aggressive expansion, employees may also wonder what their position will be once the structure of the organisation changes, and they may feel uncertain regarding their future with the business.
To counter this, employees need to be trained specifically to handle growth phases. Management must be clear and transparent regarding the changes that the employee will experience — and management should further go out of its way to identify and reward its star employees.
Constantly foster innovation
Regardless of industry, innovation is considered to be the key driver of business growth. It may not always be possible for a business to have superior resources than its competition, but it is always possible for a business to find a way to do something better.
Businesses can only gain an edge during rapid expansion by fostering innovation and looking towards improving upon their operations, processes, products, and services.
Innovation can be best fostered in a business by encouraging employees to explore new ideas. Creating a company culture of openness and creativity can naturally lead to innovation, even during times of aggressive expansion and growth. A culture of innovation will additionally keep employees engaged and constantly improving, thereby also improving upon employee retention.
New business processes, new products or services, and new ways to service clients all fall under the banner of innovation, which is critical for business survival today. An innovative business is an agile business and a business that will be able to evolve with its growth.
Streamline business processes
Everyone knows that small businesses have a tendency to fail during expansion due to a lack of capital. But what is less explored is why large successful enterprises fail. This is usually a matter of a lack of innovation and optimisation. As businesses become larger, they become set in their ways and processes become entrenched — even if they may not necessarily be the most ideal.
Businesses need to be open about identifying bottlenecks, finding solutions, and validating their own assumptions. Well-designed business processes must be documented and analysed, and a business process should be available for every task. Otherwise, a business can quickly fall apart as it grows, as employees will not be able to follow direct strategies for handling customer complaints, processing orders, servicing clients, creating products, and more. As growth rates accelerate, these processes become even more important.
Identify the value in technology
Technology is a major asset to any organisation poised for growth. Through technology, businesses are better able to leverage their existing infrastructure, competing with businesses larger than themselves, and increasing their own stability. Businesses that do not invest in technology run the risk of being left behind; a decade ago, the cloud was virtually unheard of, yet as of 2015, over 90% of businesses had invested in some form of cloud-based infrastructure.
Enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, and logistics and shipping platforms are all designed to optimise and improve upon business operations. Ultimately, this also improves upon a company’s ROI, which is absolutely critical during the intense stages of business growth. Businesses need to start implementing these suites now rather than later, so that their organisation has already integrated them fully into their business practices as they grow.
When it comes to growth, firm business foundations are what make the difference between success and failure. As a leader, your primary goal is to make your business foundation stronger to sustain it throughout these periods of aggressive growth and expansion. If you want to learn more about reviewing and improving upon your business systems and foundations, contact TEC today. TEC can give you complete access to experienced professionals with invaluable insights into business growth and management.