Tag Archives: strategic planning

Five Ways to Leverage Your Talent Brand to Attract Great Candidates

How your company can leverage what employees and candidates say about you to attract top talent

By Jeremy Eskenazi

Have you ever struggled to hire the right people? Do most of the people you interview seem like a questionable fit at your company? It might be a symptom of not using your employer brand to your best advantage. An employer brand is what employees and candidates say about your company and the work experience when you’re not in the room. It’s not something you can go out and buy, or have a fancy branding exercise to develop and replace if you don’t like the one you have. Much like branding a product, your employer brand takes on elevated meaning and a predisposition to buy or join. In what is currently a competitive talent market, effective branding creates a sustainable competitive advantage and can make a huge difference in who is interested in working for you.Your employer brand takes on elevated meaning and a predisposition to buy or join. Click To Tweet

If you’re not sure what your employer brand is today, think about employer review websites online that are popular in North America and many parts of Europe. If you’re not familiar with the concept of these sites, they’re user-driven platforms that encourage people to anonymously record their experiences with a company as a candidate or employee. They can write whatever they want, even if it’s negative, and they can encourage people to run in the opposite direction. The flip side is that reviewers can also sing your praises and wax lyrical about you. Unfortunately, much like any user-driven site, anonymous contributors are usually either delighted with something, or were very upset; so you tend to see wild swings of positive or negative comments.

An employer brand is not necessarily changed overnight, but every time you interact with a candidate, you create an impression. Now multiply these impressions dozens or even hundreds of times. This is a powerful force. This is your professional brand and your opportunity to create (or start to re-create!) the first experience.

The people, symbols, and meaning we try to attribute to the company can be a powerful tool in communicating where the organization is headed. The brand management process helps you to unearth the organizations’ brand expression in the marketplace. The five ways to leverage your employer brand are:

1. Asset Assessment. Be honest: what are your strengths and weaknesses? How large is your company¾do you need people who thrive in an intense corporate environment or do you want people who are happy to have a more stable career? What benefits do you offer? Is there opportunity for advancement? Knowing this and being able to clearly articulate it is so important.

2. Employee Involvement. What is your organizational culture? Is it vertical, with top-down direction and little front-line input, or are decisions made on a broad collaborative basis? Is there opportunity for creative thinking? Knowing how your employees interact today and empowering them to tell the story of how they contribute is powerful.

3. Competitive Assessment. What other organizations can your candidates work for? You need to know who your competitors are and what they offer. If another company offers higher wages, can you compensate with profit sharing or better benefits? Are there opportunities for you to be creative about your offering based on what your competitors are packaging for candidates?

4. Brand Positioning. You need to know where your organization fits in the overall market. Does your company compete on price, or are you targeting the upscale market? Are you known for promoting from within? Does your company have a reputation for treating women and minorities fairly? The comments left online are a good starting point for this, as are any internal surveys you run.

5. Brand Expression. This is the combined result of all of the ‘brand signals’ that are present in the marketplace and are picked up by consumers and candidates. Every element of your employer brand needs to be in alignment. For example, if you claim to care about the environment and candidates are offered Styrofoam cups when they come in for an interview, you’d be surprised how much that can alter perceptions of your company and what you stand for.

In today’s competitive global economy, these five steps can help you find the candidates you need. Remember that candidates can be both internal and external. If you bring the right talent into your team, they may be interested and have versatile skills that could allow them to try new jobs at your company. They may be ready to take on a new role and be promoted, or they may be excellent at their current job. The point being: there is active work required to engage your current employees as brand ambassadors as well—they too represent and can carry your employer brand far and wide.

Remember, you can’t “make” an employer brand. An advertising agency can’t help you create a brand. They can help create a brand message. Whether or not you know what your brand is isn’t the issue. It’s knowing the what the themes are that people use to talk about your organization. Then you can manage the expression of the brand—and how people receive it—as part of your brand as an employer. You can do this through your goals, vision, and values, and the taglines that best explain what your company is about.

It’s easy for someone to throw out “we aspire to be the best place to work”. Your employer brand cannot be solely aspirational—it has to be accurate for where your organization is today. When your position is too aspirational, people will likely be unhappy when they encounter you—both candidates and employees. If you were in their position, don’t you think you’d feel let down too?

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

Quit Fishing for Publicity, Reel in the Media

By Russell Trahan

There is an old proverb that goes, “Give a Person a Fish, and You Feed Them for a Day. Teach a Person to Fish, and You Feed Them for a Lifetime.” The same can be said about publicity. If you do publicity once, you’ll only get business for a day. However, if you do publicity with frequency and repetition, you’ll build a business that will feed you for a lifetime.

There are several other ways fishing is similar to publicity, there are a few:If you do publicity once, you’ll only get business for a day. However, if you do publicity with frequency and repetition, you’ll build a business that will feed you for a lifetime. Click To Tweet

Knowing What You’re Fishing For/Knowing Who Your Target Market Is

First, you have to decide what you’re fishing for, then you go where they are. If you’re fishing for trout you would go to a lake. If you’re fishing for salmon you head to a river. And, if you’re fishing for Mahi-mahi you would gas up the boat for some deep sea fishing. The same is true for your target market. Once you decide who your target market is, you go where they are. If you want name recognition in front of business decision makers you would go to trade, industry, or business association publications. If you want the attention of single parents you would go to women’s magazines or mommy blogs. Every market has magazines and blogs they read regularly. Know who your target market is and where they’re located and you’ll get a bite every time.

Having the Right Lures/Position Your Expertise

In a lake you would want a bobber and lures to attract the fish’s attention. In a river or stream you might want to use a fly-fishing pole. On the ocean, of course you’d want to be fully strapped in with a strong line and reel. The same is true to positioning your expertise in a way the reader wants to see it. You may think that since Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and BusinessWeek are all business publications you can send the same press release to all of them. Consider their core reader: Entrepreneur says who they are in the title; Fast Company attracts the reader who wants new, now, next; and BusinessWeek is the old steady blue-chip business person. So, if you tailor your press release to the reader of the publication you want to get into you’ll have them jumping out of the water for you.

Using the Right Bait on Your Hook/Using the Right Content in Your Hook

Whether you use a worm, eggs, or chum depends on the fish you want to catch. The same is true for the content you use to hook the media’s attention. If you don’t get the media’s attention, your target market will never see your content, so you have to present your content in the right way. So many people make the mistake of presenting themselves as the story. What the media cares about is what you can do for their reader; who you are and why they should listen to you comes second. Press releases should not be advertorial or self-promotional; they should be educational, informational, and content-driven. Lead with your unique stance or controversial opinion. Offer the media additional information on a story they’re already running and they’ll be itching to take the bait.

Telling a Fish Story/Using Your Publicity

Every fisher has a whopper of a story about the one that got away, but just as many have trophies mounted on their walls to prove their skills. The same is true with your publicity; you’ve got to tell a good tale about it, otherwise you might as well cut bait and walk away. Start an ‘in the media’ page on your website. Nothing impresses a potential client more than knowing the media considers you the go-to source for information on your expertise. Even if your business is just in the local market, don’t shy away from national press. Showing a local realtor you’ve been in a national real estate magazine will be just as impressive as being in the local newspaper. Use the publicity you receive in your social media as well. If you’re a B2B business you would want to focus on LinkedIn, or if you’re B2C you could use Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or others.

If you’re hoping to build business name recognition, increase market awareness, or boost sales, you first need to drop your line into the water. Wading in to the mainstream media doesn’t have to be a scary situation. Knowing who you want to hook, and having the right bait in your tackle box will land you publicity without much of a struggle. Regardless if you’re standing on the banks, using a row boat, or in a trawler, it’s about positioning your content in front of your target market in a format they want to hear, then just sit back and reel them in. You’ll have a net full of media placements to use in your marketing for a lifetime.

Russell Trahan is the Owner and President of PR/PR Public Relations and Author of Sell Yourself Without Saying a Word. For twnety years PR/PR has enjoyed a track record of getting 100 percent of their clients placed in front of their target market. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net.

Strategic Planning: Answering the Next Magic Question—“How?”

By Andy Slipher

Strategic Planning, by Andy SlipherHow do we get it done? What’s our next move? Now that we know what we want and why we’re here, where do we begin? You’ve likely heard variations of these questions in your organization—particularly if you’re at any level of strategic planning how to achieve favorable outcomes.

It’s one thing to know why you’re doing something, who you’re selling to, or even what makes your product or service better than the next guy’s. But, until you can adequately and effectively answer for how, your idea, product, sales, or whatever you endeavor to achieve may not become all you hope for.

The biggest how you can ask begs for a coherent approach. It means building a distinct advantage toward a favorable end. This level of “How?” is best answered with strategy.

Strategic planning exists to solve problems. More often than not, calling upon strategic planning means that your problem is big—significant, complex, and with higher-than-average stakes. That’s why we call upon strategy. It is the means to simplify and unify activity to get from your Point A to Point B with greater clarity, effectiveness, confidence and efficiency.

Planning without strategy is like feeling around in the dark. You may eventually find what you’re looking for, but it will most certainly be unpredictable, take longer than anticipated, and you run a greater risk of falling on your face along the way.

Here are three things you need to know about strategic planning in order to adequately answer any big “How?” and to improve your strategic planning process, no matter what the challenge.

1. Strategy is about choice.

Strategy is a word and concept that is abused today. People love to use it because it sounds, well, strategic. Unfortunately, calling something a strategy doesn’t make it one. Strategy, in order to function as it’s intended, means choosing—making significant choices throughout the planning process. In any complex or challenging situation, such choices are hard. Something must be sacrificed in order to move in a true and distinct direction. If you’re not making hard choices in your planning, you need to ask yourself and others how distinct, clear and achievable is your approach?

Consider this example: When Steve Jobs returned to a struggling Apple in 1997, one of the first things he chose to do was to stop selling so many products. He literally put an end to more than 70 percent of Apple’s products (laying off more than 3,000 employees in the process) in order to focus on a handful of truly innovative products. This hard choice allowed Apple to focus its resources around innovation—developing something truly game-changing. The result? The Apple iPod.

There’s little doubt that Jobs’ efforts would have been significantly more difficult and unclear if he had not made this critical strategic choice.

2. Strategy fits between your goals and plans.

Strategy is not the most important thing. But good strategy is necessary and often critical in order to be successful. Once you’ve defined your goals, strategy comes next. To delineate between goals, strategy and plans:

  •  Goals answer, “What is the end for the effort?”
  • Plans, which follow strategy, answer, “What are the blueprints for success?”
  • Strategy is the point in between that answers, “In what way are we going coordinate our efforts to get there?”
Planning without strategy is like feeling around in the dark. Click To Tweet

A good example of this hierarchy can be seen in the successful approach of the Allies in World War 2. The goal (the end for the effort) was clearly to win the war—to defeat the Axis powers (Germany, Japan, Italy). At the time, the U.S. was faced with the prospect of a two-front war. Without a clear strategy, plans would undoubtedly be murky. However, the overwhelmingly critical factor was the clear and growing threat of Germany to Europe and Russia. Therefore, the Allies made the critical strategic decision to focus first on taking back Europe and defeat Germany. The resulting plans included the D-Day invasion of Normandy (effectively thwarting a German invasion of Britain) by the U.S., the Allied movement upward from Northern Africa and the Russian forces fighting the German army to the east.

3. Strategy marries strength with opportunity.

The beauty of strategy is that it coordinates and integrates activities around a common goal. What’s more, good strategy finds the sweet spot where strengths meet opportunity. If you identify an opportunity, yet have no strengths to take advantage, how effective will you be? Likewise, if your strengths abound in a certain area, yet no opportunities exist, your strategy could come up short.

Know that in order to improve the odds of achieving your goals, your strategy will need to amplify your strengths, while playing to the opportunities at hand. A great example of this can be seen in the way Procter & Gamble (P&G) has nearly cornered the consumer package goods market. With its humble beginnings in soap and candles in the 1800s, P&G slowly and methodically built a strength producing, packaging, marketing and selling package dry goods of all types. Over the years, the company has taken advantage of opportunities to both develop new products and acquire its way into new product categories. Today, the company’s product holdings cover close to 80 products spanning roughly seven categories of products we buy every day. P&G has employed different business strategies over the years, but has always weighed opportunity in light of the company’s inherent strengths.

Whatever your challenge, follow these three fundamental principles for better strategic planning. Your strategy will be both more clear and coherent.  What’s more, you will be incrementally farther down the road toward more successful outcomes sooner.

Andy Slipher is founder of Slipher Marketing, a consultancy where strategy comes first, followed by tangible marketing results. He is an accomplished strategist, interim CMO, speaker and writer on marketing strategy. He is marketing lecturer for SMU’s accredited Bank Operations Institute for professional bankers, and for the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT). Andy is the author of The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success. For more information on Andy Slipher, please visit TheBigHow.com.

1+1=7: Leveraging Value-Based Healthcare for Positive ROI

By Gregory T. Reinecke

Gregory T. Reinecke-healthcareChange is about change! In the healthcare industry, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included another definition for clinical success. The government determined success to mean a patient does not return to the clinic within thirty days of original discharge. This is now old news. Yet a survey in 2017 showed that 59 percent of healthcare organizations (up from 33 percent in 2016) still had concerns about the Affordable Care Act. The consensus was that dealing with this move from a volume-based care requirement to a value-based one is still of concern.

The shift from fee-for-service to a value-based model is driving change and a rethinking of doctor/clinic and patient relationships. With change you are forced to review allocation of resources, investment strategies, and even to do more with less. In this changed landscape—in a value-based environment—how do you define ROI? Where do you invest?

With a greater awareness and focus that past practices in treating and releasing patients will need to be revamped, new consideration on non-clinical patient information has become important. In the current approach, the doctor is concerned with the patient in a one-on-one relationship. In the new environment, the interaction with the patient goes beyond the clinic and into non-clinical areas.

What is in the patient’s home environment that supports or does not support healing and wholeness? What external factors are detrimental to a patient’s ideal recovery? These factors have been noted to include social and physical determinants. How does one sort these new factors and determine where to invest?

Value-based healthcare clearly shifts the practice to include more people-side intangible factors—into areas not as comfortable for the medical practitioner. The practice of medicine deals mostly with specifics, not with non-specifics such as feelings and emotions. The new practice of medicine is moving into a full partnership with intangible factors, especially social determinants that affect success of healing and wholeness for a patient.

A 2018 report of data collected from 300,000 Americans identified factors that create healthy living environments. They reported that only twelve factors contributed to 90 percent of the variations in the well-being of people across the country. These factors were related to demographics, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment.

It is clear the welfare of patients is no longer focused in the clinic, but has broadened into a holistic, community enterprise. You have heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child; now it takes a community to help people heal! No doubt this recognition of the broadening healthcare enterprise may be part of the reason 59 percent of health providers find the new healthcare expectations challenging.

As a means to begin to understand how to peel back this onion, we have looked at what options healthcare organizations have in making change. A good place to start is to follow where we currently spend money and use resources and then decide where we need to reallocate funding for the new healthcare needs. So which investments might lead to a more applicable and responsive patient care program?

In every organization, there are seven types of investments available. In the outline below, we view each of the seven investments from the perspective of the current Fee-for-service focus to the Value-based focus. For each investment, we have imagined what change result might be desired. The first five capitals followed with asterisks are people or people-derived investments.Understanding the patients’ demographics as well as well as geography will be important in characterizing diverse subgroups in communities under consideration. Click To Tweet

HUMAN CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Patient is a number
  • Value-based: Patient is a person
  • Change desired: Consider a clinical team focused on what an ideal (people focused) value-based healthcare system could be

RELATIONSHIP CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Transactional: buyer (patient) and Seller (doctor)
  • Value-based: Familial: cooperative solutions, especially post-clinic
  • Change desired: Need to better engage patient in their community; build relationships, understand subgroups

SPIRITUAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Formal (culture, satisfaction, norms)
  • Value-based: Informal (family-like: culture, satisfaction, personal, relationships)
  • Change desired: Need a support network for patient: partner and co-fund with community groups for health and wellness; environmental integration

CUSTOMER CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Cordial formal service
  • Value-based: Collegial informal service; partnering together for health
  • Change desired: Need a new mindset to think health and wellness, holistically; see patient in their environment.

ORGANIZATIONAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Clinic and equipment support
  • Value-based: Invest to support patient beyond the clinic
  • Change desired: Need to imagine ways to connect/build wellness infrastructure to include community partners and ancillary health groups

PHYSICAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Focus on clinical needs and technology
  • Value-based: Invest in post-clinical and discharge needs
  • Change desired: Need to fund ongoing support, such as with out- patient wellness support to include wellness integration aides

FINANCIAL CAPITAL

  • Fee-for service: Revenue generation first
  • Value-based: Patient satisfaction followed by Revenue generations
  • Change desired: Need to fund ongoing support, such as with an out- patient ‘wellness’ aide

We have previously shown that an investment on either the task or people sides requires an investment on the opposite side to reap optimal ROI.  For example, an investment of new technology requires an investment in people to maximally exploit the technology. Or if one invests in people to do work, look for ways to invest in materials or technology to help people optimally perform. Since 71 percent (five of seven) of the investment opportunities are on people or people-derived assets, investment opportunities are mostly on the intangible, soft side.

Value-based healthcare investments are thus people-side ones. Understanding the patients’ demographics as well as well as geography will be important in characterizing diverse subgroups in communities under consideration. In order to plan for investments, a strategic approach is needed to tactically allocate resources. We believe that what underpins an effective tactical response is knowledge and understanding of situations and challenges on the ground. They directly affect why people get sick but also can expose the environmental factors that will slow their recovery and adversely affect ROI. Proactively responding to complex challenges at the core must fundamentally go beyond traditional 1+1=2 solutions and embrace a broader range of intangibles into the equation. Depending on the desired change result, one invests accordingly. With this mindset, we are certain that the ROI will be better than 1+1=2, and more like 1+1=7!

Gregory T. Reinecke, President, GeoDimensional Decision Group LLC has over three decades of experience delivering powerful value-driven solutions focused on ROI to healthcare, public safety and government agencies. GeoDD creates solutions that help clients manage risk and solve difficult problems, utilizing big data, geography, geospatial engineering, plus social science and demography to reveal new solution possibilities. For more on Gregory T. Reinecke, please visit www.geoddgroup.com.

Breaking Up Isn’t Hard to Do

Why Companies Lose Customers and What to Do About It

By Kate Zabriskie

Kate ZabriskieAlthough Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield may have been right about love relationships when they penned their hit, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” when it comes to business, that notion rings less true. Customers frequently break up with their suppliers, vendors, and partners. And guess what? Most of them don’t find it hard.

Are breakups inevitable? Not always, but businesses need to understand the four reasons customers leave and how they can avoid them.

Better Product

Sometimes customers decide to breakup because they find a better product. They discover something that addresses their needs that’s faster, easier, healthier, more effective, more enjoyable, or improved in other ways that are important to them.

Are you buying the exact same things you were buying twenty or forty years ago? Have you any use for a Walkman? Probably not. Smart companies listen to what their customers want, think beyond those demands, and push themselves to innovate and improve.

Relationship Extenders

  1. Pay attention. Know what you’re selling, what others are selling, and how your customers are using what they buy from you. What problem are you solving? What would customers buy if you weren’t around? What did they used to buy instead?
  2. Challenge the status quo. It’s easier to innovate when you’re not being reactive. Don’t wait for a customer exodus to motivate you. Challenge yourself to innovate before you’re faced with no choice. What could you do better?

Better Process

Leaving for a different product isn’t the only reason customers tell companies goodbye. Good processes count too. Without them, the customer experience suffers. For instance, imagine a movie theater with great films, state-of-the-art sound, pleasant employees, and clean facilities. So far, so good. Now pair that vision with long lines, staff members who can’t figure out to work the cash registers despite their good manners, double-booked theaters, and so forth. Would you risk taking someone you cared about to such a place, or would you choose to avoid the headache and go somewhere else? Most people would prefer to opt for a breakup and avoid potential pain and problems.

The lesson? at a minimum, doing business should not be hard. If you’ve got processes in place that inflict pain on your customers, don’t be surprised when they bolt the minute they find an acceptable alternative.With some diligence, you can avoid the break-up blues and spend many happy years together. Click To Tweet

Relationship Extenders

  1. Make doing business easy. Walk in your customers’ shoes, and experience your business the way they do. What are you making difficult? What could you make easier? Where are you wasting their time? What used to make sense but doesn’t anymore?
  2. Borrow from others. Process improvement ideas are everywhere you look if you know how to find them. When you are interacting with other businesses, ask yourself what they are doing well and what you can adopt or adapt.

Better Service

All else being equal (or even in the ballpark), customers will often break up with organizations because someone else is paying them more attention or better attention. Consistent caring doesn’t happen by accident. It requires organizations to: define great service, hire people who are capable of delivering on those promises, train them how to do it, and put a management team in place to oversee the process.

Relationship Extenders

  1. Define what you expect. If you don’t identify what A+ service looks like, don’t be surprised when your employees don’t deliver.
  2. Train people and hold them accountable. Plenty of organizations offer training, but they treat it like a one-and-done activity. After you’ve defined what you want to see and hear, you need to put a plan in place to teach people how. Once they know what they are supposed to do and how to do it, hold them accountable. Reward the good, and coach the deficiencies.
  3. Don’t get too comfortable. If you think your customers will just be there because they’re there, you’re mistaken. You must earn and re-earn your customers’ business. Look for signs you’ve gotten sloppy or lazy, and take immediate steps to get back to your best behavior and woo your customers again.

Better Price

The final reason customers will leave a business is price. If customers can get the same product and service they receive from you from someone who charges less, often they will leave. In other words, when the value to price equation gets out of whack, people look elsewhere. That doesn’t mean organizations should race to the bottom and strive to be the low-cost provider. What it does mean is businesses need to ensure they have a value proposition that matters to customers and aligns with the price being charged.

Relationship Extenders

  1. Shop around. Know what your competitors charge and what they deliver for that money.
  2. Find out what matters to your customers other than price. What do they care about? What are they happy to pay more for? What are you offering that they don’t seem to value? What should you add? What should you subtract?

Staying in any relationship requires work, and when it comes to customers, many a suiter will try to take them away from you. With some diligence, you can avoid the break-up blues and spend many happy years together.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.