Inbound marketing: A new way of marketing

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

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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

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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. 

Innovation and diversification: Lessons from REDARC

Anthony Kittel has taken REDARC Electronics from operating out of a tin shed to a multi-million dollar company with its own purpose-built advanced manufacturing facility. Purchasing the business and taking over as CEO and Managing Director in 1997 after its founder, Bob Mackie, sadly passed away, Anthony’s business journey is one of innovation, fast-paced growth and a huge amount of hard work.

Targeting markets as they emerge

In the late-1990s, REDARC was still making its signature product – a voltage converter that mainly targeted trucking vehicles. However, by 2001 there had been a major technological change, and new products in the market meant that REDARC’s own service looked like it could become obsolete. Taking into account this considerable risk to the business, Anthony decided to look at diversification.

He started to develop products for the four-wheel drive and caravan industry, which at the time was just beginning to take off in Australia thanks to the start of the retirement age for baby boomers. What product did REDARC come up with? A solar-enabled battery management system that allowed people travelling around Australia to charge their batteries without having to go to a powered site.

Realising the need for constant innovation in business, Anthony decided to set up a research and development (R&D) business called REDARC Technologies in 2002. Each year, Anthony invests 15 per cent of REDARC Electronics’ sales into this business. “We’ve gone from one engineer to 35, and that R&D investment has been a significant factor in our success. It helps us design and manufacture the best products, not only in Australian markets but globally as well,” explains Anthony.

The next big milestone for Anthony was building REDARC’s own purpose-built manufacturing facility in Lonsdale. Investing $5 million in it at a time when REDARC’s overall revenue was only $5 million, it was a big step. “It was a significant risk for us – we only had 34 employees at the time – but I had confidence that it would succeed.” This was certainly the case – REDARC now has 175 employees, turns over more than $50 million in revenue annually and has a growth target of $100 million in revenue by 2020.

The three pillars of success

Anthony aims to achieve this growth by exporting to new markets, particularly the US and Europe. As always, R&D will be a key pillar of this. “We want to continue to remain relevant, both at home and abroad, and R&D will help us achieve this,” says Anthony. REDARC will also invest $20 million in doubling the size of their current factory. “We’re going to introduce a whole lot of new, highly advanced manufacturing equipment, so that we’ve got one of the world’s best manufacturing facilities.”

R&D is only the first part of what Anthony believes makes a great business. Developing great people and having the best service in the industry are the other two foundation stones Anthony has built REDARC on. For example, the company funds all of its employees’ training needs. “If someone wants to study an apprenticeship, a degree or a Masters, we’ll fund that for them. I believe that, if we can develop the best people in the world, we’ll be one of the best companies in the world,” says Anthony.

Anthony has also worked hard over the years to build a reputation for great customer service. REDARC’s employees are available across email, telephone and social media at all times, and provide for all their customers’ needs, big and small.

R&D, employee development and excellent customer service – these three foundation pillars have certainly seen success for REDARC. In the past five years, the company has been awarded Telstra Australian business of the year, two gold excellence awards in manufacturing, has won manufacturer of the year and was named in Westpac’s top 20 businesses of tomorrow.

The camaraderie of TEC

Anthony got involved in TEC when he was looking to ramp up REDARC’s growth, seeing TEC membership as a great opportunity to create an advisory and support network. “It can be a lonely journey as a CEO – you don’t have that support that you’ve had before. TEC offers a way of overcoming that. You’re able to discuss complex issues in your business that you wouldn’t share with anyone else, and get feedback from CEOs who’ve gone though it all before,” says Anthony.

He also spoke of the camaraderie of TEC. “I enjoy getting to know everyone on a personal level – TEC isn’t just about business, you develop a strong bond because of that trust you place in the other members.”

TEC are so happy to have people like Anthony on board. His hard work, emphasis on innovation and developing his employees, and the many successes he’s seen as CEO of REDARC are lessons we can all learn from.

Fast Facts:

Established in: 1979 (Anthony took over 1997)

Industry: Electronics manufacturing

Size: Two production sites, $50 million in revenue, looking to expand to $100 million by 2020.

Markets: Australia, US, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa and the Middle East. Over 5,000 customers in Australia alone.

Product range: Sell over 500 products.

Posted in TEC

Tips to better manage your email inbox

4.1 hours — that’s the amount of time the average person spends checking their work email every day. It’s easy to see why: email has essentially replaced many other methods of business communication.

Rather than having face-to-face meetings or getting on the phone, we are now funnelling everything straight into our inboxes in an easily digested format.

Email is essential, especially as a CEO, and there are undoubtedly a multitude of emails that you need to read and respond to every day.

But as critical as email is, it can also be a distraction. Email connects you to every business contact you know 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; if it’s a replacement for face-to-face meetings, it’s like having everyone you know in a single room all the time.

It’s a situation that can quickly spiral out of control without the appropriate discipline. It’s easy to fall into email habits that can make your email usage less than productive. Gaining control of your inbox can often mean gaining control over your day.

Reserve time to respond to emails

An average person checks their emails 15 times a day. Yet research by the University of British Columbia found that checking email only three times a day could reduce stress.

Checking email at the beginning, middle, and end of your work day could be the first step that you take to improving your productivity and your mental energy.

  • Turn off your notifications. If you keep hearing the bing of emails coming in, you’re really just ramping up your stress.
  • Let everyone know you’re trying something new. Once those around you get used to you being available at certain times, they’ll adjust accordingly.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on emails. In addition to scheduling your email, try to get your work done within a specific amount of time.

Of course, as a CEO, there are times when there are emergencies, but that’s what phone calls and text messages are for. As long as everyone knows that email is not for high-priority activities, you should be able to manage your email more effectively in far less time.

Utilise email features

In just the last decade, email technology has come quite far. Yet most people are still using their email the same as they did ten years ago — and failing to leverage the technology designed to make their lives much easier.

When properly used, email technology can promote higher priority emails, strip out unimportant emails, and take care of tagging and categorisation for you.

  • Star high-priority emails. If there are emails that you need to follow up on or get back to later, set their priority as ‘high’ or star them, depending on the system that you use. This makes it less likely that something will be missed.
  • Label your emails intelligently. Use basic keywords to describe your emails, such as ‘marketing’ or ‘HR.’ This will make it easier for you to sort through your emails later on, especially when used on a department basis.
  • Mark emails Read and Archived when you’ve dealt with them. Keeping your inbox clear of clutter is one of the first steps towards taking control over your communications.
  • Avoid overly elaborate folder systems. Though it may feel as though you’re organising your emails, you’re really just setting them aside for later — and the more folders you have, the more likely something is to be overlooked.
  • Schedule and automate your emails. Systems like Gmail’s Boomerang make it easy to schedule emails automatically and to send email reminders. Anything you do regularly can be automated, such as responding to reoccurring emails.

Know when to pick up the phone

Picking up the phone has become a last resort, but it’s actually the fastest way to have a complex conversation. If you don’t want to email someone back and forth 20 times (or if you’re finding yourself playing ‘email tag’ with someone), you can simply pick up the phone and get the situation resolved immediately.

Phone calls are best for:

  • Immediate responses. If you want to be able to relegate your emails to certain scheduled times of day, you may need an answer fast. A phone call gets you the information you need right away.
  • Details. Any time you need to ask questions and then follow up with additional questions, a phone call is usually faster. This also goes for anything that would be needlessly long to type up.
  • Miscommunications. If the other person doesn’t seem to understand your email, a phone conversation may be exactly what you need. Some concepts are just more easily understood when talked through.

Limiting email within your business

Change has to occur from the top down when it comes to something as ubiquitous as email usage. By requesting that employees limit email throughout your business, you can transfer your own newfound productivity to the rest of your employees.

Encourage your employees to send consolidated emails rather than emailing throughout the day and urge them to use phone calls or instant messaging when they can.

An overabundance of emails throughout a business often leads to workloads being shifted around rather than actually completed. Instead of finishing a document, employees may send them back and forth asking extraneous questions, and while that still amounts to work, it reduces productivity. By reducing the amount of email usage in your business overall, you can increase the amount of actual work product.

Boost your productivity

There’s no doubt that email is one of the best communication tools available today, but it’s also often stealing more time than it should. Email is overused, and it has to be managed effectively. It can easily become a time sink if it’s allowed to spiral out of control.

Once you’re able to reduce the amount of time you spend on emails, you’ll also find that you’re actually getting far more done.

By taking action to reduce your email usage — and your company’s email usage — you can foster more effective communication habits.

But it isn’t going to happen overnight, especially in a world that is as reliant upon email as this one. Through TEC, you can connect with professionals and leaders and court their opinions on better productivity, communication, and business processes.

Sign up with TEC today to gain access to an experienced and global peer-to-peer network for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

Posted in TEC

4 types of stress: Do you know what is causing yours?

Globalisation, managing a business in a VUCA environment, and an increased feeling of isolation have made being a CEO more difficult than ever. In fact, two-thirds of CEOs are currently struggling with stress and exhaustion. But they don’t have to be. CEOs need to work harder to rise above it, identify the cause of their stress, and proactively manage it.

As a leader, stress can impact both your mental and physical health. It can also lead to poor decision-making and inefficient work. If you want to be the best that you can be, you need to control your stress effectively and ensure that it doesn’t control you.

This process begins with a better understanding of stress, how it originates, and how you can mitigate it. There are four major types of stress: time stress, anticipatory stress, situational stress, and encounter stress. Each of these has its own nuances, drawbacks, and even benefits.

1. Time stress

The clock is ticking and there’s no way you’re going to be able to accomplish everything that you need to do. As deadlines loom ahead, you start to wonder whether you’re even capable of fulfilling the duties of your position.

Time stress involves the pervasive feeling that there’s never enough time in the day. This type of stress tends to occur as deadlines approach. CEOs are responsible for a tremendous number of deadlines, and realistically they can’t all be met. A CEO may find that they simply cannot achieve all their goals, and this can lead to feelings of failure.

But time stress is also one of the easiest types of stress to handle as it’s related to something tangible and immutable. Though you can change your habits, there’s nothing you can do about time itself. Because of this, being realistic about your goals is one of the most critical aspects of relieving time stress.

  • Brush up on your time management skills. You may not have enough time because time is simply slipping away unnoticed. Pay attention to how you’re spending your time and work to optimise it.
  • Delegate your tasks intelligently. You may actually not have enough time in the day, especially if you have been trying to handle everything yourself. If a task can be handed off, it should be.
  • Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Don’t take on too much. Part of being a leader is ensuring that you aren’t put in the position of over-promising and under-delivering.

The more control you have over your time, the less stress you’ll experience. After all, you’ll already know what you can and can’t do, and you’ll be able to avoid over-booking yourself. Here is an article on how to effectively delegate tasks in order to free up time in your day.

2. Anticipatory stress

The new expansion seems to be going great, but there’s no way of really knowing until the doors open. Are you going to be prepared?

CEOs may begin to experience stress before a major event, especially if the results are uncertain. This is natural; it’s that fight-or-flight instinct kicking in before an upcoming ‘battle’.

Since you don’t know what you should prepare for, all you can do is wait and worry — and that, in itself, can become damaging. Anticipatory stress is one of the most insidious forms of stress because it can be constant. After all, there’s almost always something new around the corner. Anticipatory stress also conveys no true benefit: worrying about a situation that you can’t change doesn’t help.

  • Prepare yourself. The better prepared you are for upcoming events, the less you will have to worry about.
  • Be confident in your decisions. Though you may not always be able to make the right decision, you should be able to make the best-informed decision. You are, after all, still human.
  • Focus on tangible actions. Rather than worrying, look for something that you can investigate or improve. This allows you to take control over the situation in a functional way.

3. Situational stress

All the data is gone, and the backups are nowhere to be found. Could this spell the end for your business?

Even the best-prepared leaders will occasionally face an emergency. The emergency above — data loss — has happened to nearly a third of all organisations at one point or another. This type of stress is generally blended with panic, and that can lead to exceptionally poor decision-making. Emergency situations often require immediate action, and they can have devastating consequences. CEOs will often feel under pressure to quickly make the right decisions to steer their business out of danger.

  • Take a breather. Even in an emergency, you need to take the time to think things through; otherwise, you could simply compound your problems.
  • Seek out advice. A knowledgeable mentor or experienced business partner may be able to reframe your perspective and give you some useful tips.
  • Remove yourself from the situation. If it’s a specific environment that is triggering your stress, remove yourself from it to fully consider your options.

4. Encounter stress

It’s that time again — downsizing. You know that it’s part of running a business, but that doesn’t make the meetings any easier.

CEOs need to deal with people, and not all of those dealings are pleasant. From employee reviews to firings, there can be many social encounters that are less than pleasant.

CEOs may feel stress when approaching negotiations, dealing with angry customers, or having to censure their own employees. Encounter stress can also simply arise from having to be in constant contact with many individuals, as having to be social and ‘on’ all the time can be exhausting. This can lead to a feeling of brain drain and impact a CEO’s ability to work.

  • Remember to make time for yourself. It’s important to get some alone time in every day so you don’t always feel as though you’re performing your duties as a CEO.
  • Develop your emotional intelligence. Learning more about why people feel a certain way and how you can have positive interactions with them can help put you back in control.
  • Don’t take it personally. You can’t please all the people all the time; learn to accept the fact that sometimes people will walk away unhappy.

Ultimately, you aren’t going to be able to eliminate all the stressors in your life — but you can turn them to your advantage. CEOs need to be extremely mindful when managing their stress levels, as stress can come from all four corners at once. A little bit of stress is motivating, but a lot of stress can lead to poor decisions and negative social interactions. As long as you can identify why you’re feeling stressed, you can work to alleviate that stress.

A supportive network of peers and mentors can help a great deal. For the most part, stress is unnecessary; it only serves to cloud the mind. Through TEC, you can access a supportive CEO peer-to-peer network where you can learn stress management techniques from other leaders. Sign up for TEC today to begin building a path to better decisions.

Staying relevant in a disrupted industry: Lessons from Eckersley Group

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.”

Fast Facts:

Established in: 1971 (Tom and his brother took over in 1991)

Industry: Printing

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

4 tips to running effective meetings

From stand-up scrums to sit-down sessions, meetings take up a large portion of time for any organisation. When managed effectively, a meeting is an opportunity to optimise business operations. But when managed poorly, meetings become disruptive and distracting.

It’s estimated that $37 billion a year is wasted on meetings that are unnecessary — and meetings themselves can offer a false sense of productivity that gets in the way of legitimate accomplishments.

What’s the difference between an effective, powerful meeting and a waste of time? It often comes down to leadership.

Leaders are what set the tone and course of a meeting; they are the ones who decide whether a meeting is necessary, what format the meeting should be in, and how long the meeting should take.

As a leader, you need to take steps to make sure your meetings are living up to their potential.

1. Create a highly structured agenda

Meetings tend to bounce from one topic to another as related concerns arise and an extemporaneous discussion begins. While this type of exploration can sometimes be useful, it’s more often distracting.

Creating a highly structured agenda will keep your meeting focused on the issue at hand. When creating an agenda, ask yourself:

  • What are the goals of the meeting?
  • Who is necessary for the meeting?
  • When is the best time for the meeting?

Expand on your agenda with a thorough outline of the meeting’s discussion topics. A narrow, specific agenda is the most useful agenda; the broader your meeting topics are, the less likely you are to be able to get anything substantive done.

2. Only invite those who belong to the entire agenda

A shorter, smaller meeting is almost universally desirable. Additional members will only expand the scope of a meeting, encouraging it to run longer and reducing its capacity to focus.

Meetings should be as short as possible and should be limited to attendees who are necessary. If team members feel that the meeting is not relevant to them, they will often become distracted. They may even derail the meeting entirely, in an attempt to bring it towards topics that are more relevant to them. Even if they remain silent, their time will still be wasted.

Irrelevant meetings burn out employees — and over time, they encourage employees to ‘zone out’ during meetings even when they are relevant to them. Improving the relevancy of your meetings is the first step towards ensuring that employees are attentive and alert.

3. Stick to the agenda

It’s easy for unexpected issues to arise during a meeting. After all, team members may find themselves suddenly in the room with a large number of people who could solve the problems that they’re currently encountering.

This encourages them to discuss issues that are relevant to their current tasks. But for a meeting to remain efficient, it’s important to avoid being side-tracked.

When an issue that’s not on the agenda does arise, acknowledge it and have it recorded. Make it a point to discuss it in subsequent meetings.

Ensuring that the issue is properly acknowledged is important; otherwise, team members may feel as though they have been brushed off.

Likewise, it’s important to schedule a meeting to discuss the issue if it is a valid one, as otherwise people could forget about the issue.

4. Debrief and follow up

Once the meeting is over, give an overview of the key points the team has discussed and the information that has been gained throughout the meeting.

If it is desirable to get undirected feedback, set aside a time at the end of the meeting for meeting members to address any of their additional concerns.

A report should be compiled to include the meeting’s minutes, and team members with newly assigned projects or tasks should be followed up to make sure they’re on track.

Ideally, every team member involved in the meeting should walk away understanding the issues raised, the solutions presented, and their role in implementation. Written documentation will further improve the process as team members will be able to refer back to the documentation later.

As a leader, you have the unique ability to direct the meeting — and an effective meeting is all about direction. Keep your agenda close, and you’ll be able to keep the meeting on track and moving swiftly.

But meetings aren’t just about structure and process; they’re also about practice and experience. Connecting with other leaders is an excellent opportunity to acquire tips from others. Contact TEC today to find out more about connecting with a peer group of thousands of leaders, entrepreneurs, and mentors.

The art of defining a market for business: Lessons from Norwest Recruitment

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.

3 important considerations fuelling CEO decision-making today

At a recent TEC conference, over 300 members were asked about the biggest decision they’ve made in the last 90 days and the biggest one they will make in the coming 90 days. From the pool of answers, there were three topics that stood out most prominently.

Download the e-book to receive actionable tips to help you make better decisions as a business leader

Achieving a strong corporate culture

Mentor Helen Wiseman discusses the effect corporate culture has on your company. A strong culture, aligned with the CEO’s clear vision for the business, can ‘strengthen your governance structures’. Helen also explores the strategies you can implement to improve this intangible yet invaluable asset.

Product development and go-to-market strategies

Mentor Ian Neal provides some insights on what strong product development relies on, from idea generation to launch. He tells leaders that crafting a great product is more than just doing ‘expensive market research or email surveys’. In the whitepaper, he identifies a free, accessible resource at the tip of your fingers.

Achieving significant growth

Mentor Trent Bartlett puts growth into perspective: ‘Leaders need to think about the maximum foreseeable loss their company can sustain’. Trent explores the different capabilities you can use to fuel growth initiatives as well as exactly what is needed to achieve it.

Contact TEC today to find out how our monthly peer group meetings and mentoring sessions, can help you push past your assumptions to make better decisions.

TEC

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CEO’s greatest barrier to innovation is time

TEC’s Confidence Index Report revealed that 35% of CEOs consider time as the major barrier to innovation. Time is a precious resource — it cannot be purchased, bartered, or sold. And this is especially problematic given that 52% of CEOs have cited new products or services as the centrepiece of their growth plans. To develop these new products and services, innovation is critical. And that requires finding the time.

Make the best use of available time

Innovation and operational effectiveness go hand-in-hand. When running a business, it’s almost always easier to reduce expenses than it is to increase revenue.

Time operates similarly. Though you cannot create more time, you can use the time that you have more effectively. Automating repetitive tasks, making better use of technology, and outsourcing intelligently are all ways that a business can make the most of time as a resource.

By analysing your business for inefficiencies and improving productivity, you can make more space across the board for innovation. Your most talented employees will be working on the tasks that they are best suited for — and they will be able to focus on new products and services rather than routine, mundane, and repetitive tasks. The more productive the business become, the less time will be a concern.

Don’t try to rush innovation

Innovation takes time: there’s no way around it. But it can be difficult for a business to pour resources into a process that appears to be remaining static. Business owners may feel as though brainstorming, researching, and market testing isn’t producing tangible results — and consequently they may feel as though they need to rush it.

But rushing innovation can ultimately lead to mistakes. Innovation is something that cannot be forced. The best a CEO can do is create a culture and environment that fosters innovation; after that, it is often required that they wait.

Innovation must be continuous

CEOs must set aside time every month — or even every week — to collaborate and explore ideas with their teams. Employees will not generate ideas for the company in their spare time; they need to be directed.

Teams of individuals work far better than individuals alone, as they are able to bounce ideas off one another. In a team set-up, it’s easier to point out loopholes in ideas and good ideas will be encouraged. By getting your employees on board, you’ll be able to increase both employee creativity and employee engagement.

Innovation cannot be something that has an end goal, such as one more product or service. Rather, innovation has to be a continuous process — this is how a business can continue to improve and remain competitive.

Develop a clear process

Innovation begins by identifying a problem, and this can range from internal to industry-wide. Consider your current clients and your future clients, and think about emerging trends and market changes.

Once you’ve identified a problem that either exists or that will arise, you can then find a solution to that problem or to that inefficiency. The goal is to find a way to solve the problem that your company can excel at.

The best and most talented employees are experts at innovation. But other employees can still learn — and they should. The process begins by educating your employees on the process of innovation and ensuring that they understand that any employee can be instrumental to the process. Innovation doesn’t require a tech background; it merely requires a solid understanding of a company’s customer base and industry operations.

By refining your creative processes and improving business productivity, you can develop new products and new services that will not only compete with other companies but potentially even disrupt them. Naturally, the process begins with a solid understanding of your own company’s fundamental operations, in addition to brainstorming and creating confidently.

Read the full Confidence Index Report Q2, 2017

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CEOs struggle to find the right skills and talent

With confidence in economic growth and stability rising, many CEOs are looking towards expansion. A problem arising, however, is a difficulty in finding talent. 63% of the CEOs polled in the Confidence Index Report (CIR) cited talent as a major issue impacting growth. Both political issues and the changing employment markets are creating challenges.

As the economy improves, the job market becomes more competitive. 

Australia’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.6% and is expected to continue dropping as the economy improves. Lower unemployment rates lead to a more competitive employment market, in which employers find it more difficult to attract the top talent. Employees become more expensive overall as they expect higher salaries and better benefits. And with the additional limitation of 457 visas, acquiring cost-effective and highly skilled staff is challenging.

CEOs must be creative when acquiring the top talent.

41% of CEOs believe that staff acquisition and retention is their number one concern. In order to continue growing, CEOs have to be creative when courting talent.

  • Offer perks in place of more traditional benefits. Innovative companies are offering perks such as pet-friendly offices, child care, and flex time. Today’s employees want work-life balance — and if employers are able to make their offices more attractive, their employees will be willing to spend more time there.
  • Listen to your employees and their suggestions. Employees want to feel that they are being listened to and valued. Most importantly, employees may have a better perspective on what would make the company more competitive to other talent.
  • Be open to broadening your employment search. Many employers are used to demanding specific requirements from their potential employees, but it can become necessary for employers to broaden their search for more non-traditional talent. Employers may want to consider which of their requirements are truly requirements or which may simply be desirable.

Employee retention may become its own challenge.

In addition to acquisition, retention becomes a challenge when there are more employers attempting to procure talent. Employees may find themselves being courted by other companies who may have more appealing offers; it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that they can provide a more attractive working environment.

Employees want to have opportunities for advancement, and if they feel that they are stagnating in their career path, they are very likely to look for another position with another company. Employers can provide additional training, certifications, seminars, and personal development opportunities to make themselves more competitive.

Employers should also be aware that employees are more likely to leave managers than a company — if they are unhappy with their direct management, the company’s own benefits may not matter. Consequently, employers need to listen to their employees and take complaints and suggestions seriously.

Employers who are looking to hire employees are going to need to be creative and innovative. Networking is going to be key in procuring the best talent as the economy continues to improve and employees find themselves more in demand. TEC can provide connections and guidance for CEOs who are looking to improve their talent pool and retain their talent moving forward.

Read the full Confidence Index Report Q2, 2017

 

 

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CEO confidence on Australia’s SME growth

the executive connection

TEC’s Confidence Index Report (CIR) paints an optimistic future for Australia’s businesses, even if there may be some challenges ahead. The CIR outlines not only some of the positive aspects of the Australian marketplace but also some of the most pressing issues CEOs must address if they are to succeed. With a well-developed strategy, business owners should be able to leverage this coming year for sustainable and aggressive growth.

Australia’s economic outlook is bright

82% of CEOs believe the economic conditions of Australia will either grow or stay the same. This stability is incredibly important for businesses that expect to begin building their growth in the coming year. Even a stable economy ­­­— without growth — is a boon to a well-managed business.

Though a well-run business can succeed at any time, a strong economy improves upon all factors, from the cost of customer acquisition to the cost of goods. Businesses will be investing more in their own infrastructure, which in turn will contribute more to the growth of the economy overall. Even a perception of a stronger economy can have a resounding impact, especially at a local level.

Business owners expect an increase in sales revenue

78% of business owners anticipate an increase in sales revenue in the year ahead, and this is going to encourage business owners further to continue investing ­— not only in themselves but also in products and services from other local companies. An anticipated increase in sales revenue is due to an increase in customer spending, which naturally occurs when the economy is doing better.

At the same time, low consumer confidence may require that business owners become more creative and aggressive with their marketing techniques. By coming up with innovative ways to captivate their customers, leaders will be able to separate their companies from their competition. In fact, they will have to if they want to leverage the current economic conditions.

Businesses will be featuring new products and services

72% of business owners are citing new products and services as a part of their growth plan. As businesses grow, investing in a product base is a solid strategy as it gives consumers something new and exciting to be interested in.

At the same time, investing in new products and services can also be a risky bet for an entrepreneur. Without substantial market testing, companies can find themselves extending too far financially on products and services that they aren’t able to move.

Though market testing cannot eliminate this possibility, it can reduce the risk. New products and services can then open up brand-new markets for the business and aid them in development and expansion.

Altogether, the CEO outlook is an exceptionally positive one. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work to be done. Though CEO confidence is high, consumer confidence is not. And CEOs are finding many challenges along the way, such as time management, skill development, and innovation.

Read the full Confidence Index Report Q2, 2017 

How to unlock data in your business

Big data is currently a global industry worth an estimated $130.1 billion — and it’s expected to grow to more than $203 billion by 2020. Businesses in all industries have begun capturing and analysing large volumes of data to produce superior business outcomes, but not all businesses are using this data as effectively as they could. Businesses that aren’t utilising the data they have — or that aren’t capturing the data that they could — are missing out on a significant business advantage.

Develop a data strategy

Every business, regardless of size, should develop a data-driven IT strategy. When properly implemented, data strategies can help an organisation in everything from reducing employee absenteeism to improving upon worksite safety.

A complete data strategy should include how data will be obtained, analysed, and utilised — in addition to setting specific metrics that can be used to determine the success of the strategy.

IT strategies include exploring and identifying the technologies and platforms that are most useful to the business, in addition to creating a roadmap for the strategy into the near future. This strategy will grow and adapt with the business.

Though big data is most often associated with marketing and e-commerce, it has an incredible number of applications. Logistics, shipping, repairs and maintenance, and employee performance are all examples of business processes that can be analysed for improvements and inefficiencies.

There are numerous suites that are designed to collect and analyse data related to physical assets, shipping and fulfilment, and human resources tasks. These suites make it easier for an organisation to identify potential bottlenecks within their business processes and to resolve them.

Train employees to embrace big data

By providing the right software and training, your organisation can empower your employees to make faster, better decisions. Rather than getting bogged down in the heuristics of decision-making, employees can instead use advanced analytics and insights to explore issues and produce solutions.

But employees need the right tools in order to be able to make use of their data. They also need to select the right metrics to track and improve upon performance. A true understanding of data analysis is often needed in order to drill down to the most important points for an organisation.

By establishing a data-driven company culture and providing the appropriate training and tools, employers can foster a healthier relationship between employees and their data. Employees who are not resistant to change will often find that data analysis can greatly improve their results and simplify their own work, by automating tasks and providing for better overall business outcomes.

Track your data on a regular basis

A data strategy isn’t something that is created and then left to run its course. Instead, data strategies are living elements of a business, which must be continually tracked, checked, and optimised. Businesses need to be exceptionally conscientious of the data that they create; otherwise, it’s very easy for a business to fall into the trap of creating and storing endless volumes of unrelated or unimportant data.

Part of a data strategy should lie in setting up weekly or monthly reviews. These reviews should include metrics such as goals and key performance indicators, which will identify whether the business is currently improving and whether there are any newly evolved inefficiencies that need to be resolved. Without these metrics, it becomes impossible to tell whether a data strategy is truly working.

Helpful tools for collecting and managing data

Not every business has dedicated data scientists on their staff  ­— but they also don’t need to. Advanced tools have been developed that make it easier for businesses of all sizes to collect and manage their data. Modern data science is a far cry from prior years, in which data might include simply looking at monthly sales, inventory data, and income and expense reports. The data provided and analysed by modern business tools is extremely robust, often specialised, and invaluable. A few different types of tools include:

  • Business Intelligence (Microsoft Power BI, ClearStory, IBM Watson Analytics). Comprehensive Business Intelligence suites are designed to analyse a company’s core business processes, identifying inefficiencies at all levels of the company’s own internal operations.
  • Website Analytics (Google Analytics, Quantcast). Many businesses today rely upon their websites for customer service, outreach, and acquisition. Website analytics engines provide detailed information about website traffic, demographics, and user behaviour.
  • Customer Relationship Management (MailChimp, HubSpot­, Marketo, Salesforce, Zendesk). CRM suites are designed to foster customer relationships. It does this by tracking information related to the customer’s journey and reporting on the relationship the customer has with an organisation.
  • Data Sharing and Storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Cloud). Data is useless if it cannot be stored or shared; these tools are designed to keep data in a centralised repository through which it can be accessed.
  • Trend Identification (Buzzsumo, Google Trends). Businesses need to be up-to-date on current trends if they are to reach out to certain marketing demographics. These analytics engines provide information about what’s currently trending, usually through the internet and news.
  • Inventory Management (TradeGecko). Logistics, shipping, supply, and demand can all be greatly simplified through inventory management suites, which can analyse a company’s inventory to determine the best products to stock.

There are additionally more specialised tools, such as Klipboard (which manages employees out in the field), Maptive (which transforms raw, location-based data), and Tranzlogic (which provides credit card data analysis for merchants of all types).

Using data to drive business growth

There is no one-size-fits-all data strategy. Business data comes in all shapes and sizes, purely dependent on the metrics that an organisation wants to track and its goals for improvement. Regardless, data is an incredibly important driver for business growth today — it is absolutely essential for businesses that wish to retain a competitive edge and improve upon their operations. Businesses today have more choices than ever for analytics and data-related tools, and they need to get started now if they don’t want to be left behind.

TEC provides resources for organisations that are moving into the modern era and taking advantage of the new technology available to them. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits that technology can provide, you may want to discuss analytics and data with other like-minded individuals. Contact TEC­­­ today to find out more about how the world of big data is changing and how your business can begin to change with it.

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