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The Plan - Bellwether Q1Y12


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Everything you need to know to get your company in gear. From social media to ERP, this issue's got the answers you need.

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The Plan - Bellwether Q1Y12

  1. 1. BELLWETHER Volume 3 | Issue 1 | First Quarter 2012 YOUR PEOPLE THE PLAN
  2. 2. 2 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  3. 3. 90% of spreadsheet budgeting RESULTS IN errors* Budget Maestro® makes spreadsheet errors a thing of the past with budgeting and reporting software designed for SAGE ERP. • Cut budgeting time by up to 50% • Eliminate formula errors • Generate results you can trust • Direct Integration to your SAGE ERP • One Click P&L, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow reporting* PwC studySEE BudGEt MAEStRo in Action, now! tAKE A cALL QuicK touR 800-366-5111 Certified Solution or visit© 2011 Centage Corporation. Centage, the Centage logo, Budget Maestro, Planning Maestro, Link Maestro and Analytics Maestro are trademarks or registeredtrademarks of Centage Corporation. All other brands or products mentioned are registered trademarks of their respective holder(s). All rights reserved.
  4. 4. In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high. ~Henry David Thoreau 6 Letter from the Editor 5sections Leadership 6 Sales and Marketing 8 Cover Story 14 14 Planning 16 Book Report 20 EMAIL Customer Relationships 22 Industry News 23 Human Resources 24 Social Media FACEBOOK TWITTER 26 19 24 WEBSITE BLOG YOUTUBE 4 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  5. 5. LETTERFROMTHEEDITOR BELLWETHER A Blytheco, LLC Magazine Volume 3 First Quarter, 2012 STAFF EDITOR Apryl Hanson CREATIVE DIRECTOR Greg Went OPEN FOR AD CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alicia Anderson Mark Badran Lynn Berman Eyal Danon Mark Grimes Apryl Hanson Cortez NaPue Genie Whitehouse Bill Wiersma Jeffrey Williams ADVERTISING SALES Dori Fitch SUBSCRIPTIONS Or contact Dori Fitch - (800) 425-9843, Extension 1168 Bellwether Magazine is published by Blytheco, LLC with principal offices at: 23161 Mill Creek Road Suite 200 Laguna Hills, CA 92653 If you wish to be removed from the mailing list or to add names to the mailing list, send your request, including name, business name, and mailing address to the above address or to This is a copyrighted publication and all articles herein are covered by this copyright. Any use of the content for commercial reasons or other form or reproduction of material herein is strictly prohibited without prior, written approval of Bellwether Magazine. 5 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  6. 6. LEADERSHIPCulture Leaders, You Own It by Bill WiersmaE ight percent increase in top line revenue. Six percent decrease in expense. Twelvepercent increase in inventory turns. Asleaders of all stripes look to the year ahead,they set goals (usually tactical) similar to theones above in hoping to meet the desiredobjectives of their organization. It’s socommon it’s as predictable as the annualreturn of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano.Here’s the irony: the thing that invariably drives those tactical The right environment (culture) is what has enabled the bio-numbers-- for better or worse--is an organization’s culture. Yet, tech giant Amgen to get its big-brain scientists to successfullyit’s as rare for leaders to set improvement goals for their culture collaborate in consistently bringing forth world-class productsas it is common for leaders to set tactical performance goals. to market. Likewise, Nucor-- the world’s largest steelmaker--That’s unfortunate. attributes its market dominating success to their culture, not their mind-blowing, proprietary mini-mill technology. In bothCulture, in its most simplistic form, is about the quality of one’s organizations, it was the company’s culture that gave them theirwork environment. Renowned organizational consultant Edgar competitive advantage. This is completely counter-intuitiveSchein put a finer point on it when he noted that “culture is to an when one considers the staff of world-class scientists at Amgenorganization what character is to the individual”. A lousy work or the game-changing technology perfected by Nucor.environment (i.e. culture) is certainly more prone to produceundesirable results, while once centered on professional values The leadership at both Amgen and Nucor (in additionis more likely to produce desirable ones. to innumerable other organizations like them) invest a considerable amount of time and energy in the developmentManagers and leaders, by design, get things done through of their culture. Yes, they develop many of the same types ofothers. As a result, they should have more than just a passing tactical goals we shared at the beginning of this article. Thosefancy in the quality of their organization’s work environment are important. Yet, they know that tactical goals are far easier(culture). After all, they’re responsible for it. (and more pleasurable) to achieve when the environment isTo be clear, when it comes to ‘environment’, we’re not merely right. But, most importantly, they know that they’re the onestalking about people feeling uncomfortable in the office most responsible for the quality of that work environment—thebecause the temperature is too high. One’s work environment health of their culture, if you will.can be impacted by a myriad of factors---people’s mind-setsand behaviors, being properly led, having the proper trainingand equipment for the job, etc.About the AuthorBill Wiersma is the principal of Wiersma and Associates, LLC, a consulting firm that helps leaders create cultures centered onprofessional ideals. His expertise has been featured in numerous media outlets--including the New York Times. Bill, the authorof two critically acclaimed books, is a trusted advisor to executive leadership on senior team development and organizationalculture. His latest book is “The Power of Professionalism”6 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  7. 7. Consider your own organization, what do the cart (performance metrics) ahead of the horse (culture).you see? It was John Bogle, the legendary founder of The Vanguard• Are people looking out more for the organization or Group, who said that the most important things in life were more for themselves? often the most difficult to measure. In organizational life,• To what degree is trust present? (trust across things like trust are most important. And, indeed, it is departments?) (trust of top leadership?) difficult to measure. Yet, that shouldn’t deter a committed• When a problem occurs, do people jump in to help or leader to making substantive changes to their culture. In run for the aisles? the end, you’ll be able to feel the difference in higher levels• What’s more valued: not rocking the boat or speaking up? of commitment, greater esprit-de-corps, less contention,• To what degree are people proud to be associated with etc. the organization? I advocate to leaders to center their culture around• What gets rewarded: style or substance? professional ideals. The premise behind this approachThese are but a few of the questions one might ask in is outlined in my recently released book—The Power ofassessing the health of an organization’s culture. Many Professionalism. Also know that each of Bellwether’s 2012of the answers may be pleasing, others won’t be. Rest editions will carry an article about an important aspect ofassured that leadership has central responsibility in shaping developing one’s culture in this manner. As you’ll see inan organization’s other words, in creating more subsequent articles, the change leaders are seeking startspleasing answers to the types of assessment questions with them.posed above. A leader who is not a professional is a leader in name only.For instance...if trust is low...if collaboration is insufficient... Leaders who want to make a difference must be professionalsif accountability is shaky...leaders looking to the year and must instill professionalism in their people. Whenahead must commit to improve these areas. They must culture becomes synonymous with professional, it hasset improvement goals for their culture, just as they would greater character, all of which is reflected in higher levels offor performance metrics. Start now with 2012 in mind. performance. Isn’t that what you want in 2012?Remember culture drives performance metrics. Don’t put 7 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  8. 8. SALES&MARKETING Selling in the C-Suite Through Customer Advisory Boards by Eyal Danon H ow do you win friends and influence execs at the uppermost levels? More and more sales organizations are opting to engage CXOs outside the usual channels -- with high-profile customer boards. It beats conventional sales tactics cold. It’s a common situation in B-to-B and technology businesses. You’ve been selling successfully to people at the operations level. They’re buying from you in IT, in the data center, or maybe in marketing or manufacturing groups. But you sense that the bigger deals and enterprise-wide sales are being closed somewhere upstairs, long before you even know there is a deal on the table. Or perhaps you’re offering a solution or product that must be sold at the C-Level because it involves big money, policy issues, or higher-level corporate systems. But you’re having trouble getting access to the upper reaches. It’s no secret that having relationships in the C-Suite can work miracles for sales efforts. You’re closer to the centers of power, and privy to the needs and interests that really drive decisions in the organization. With one ‘sale’ upstairs you could accomplish what would take scores of hard- fought pitches and proposals at street level. As many sales managers have figured out: “If the CXO wants it, so will everyone else.” The hard question is, how do you build relationships with the people who run things? How do you garner credibility among top executives -- especially if you are not a household name, or if you’re seen as just a vendor or supplier? How do you get heard that ‘strategic’ level? And, most important, what do you say once you’re there? Jumping the gates For most companies, conventional sales approaches aren’t all that effective at the CXO level. Top executives are insulated by layers of managers and gatekeepers; you can’t cold-call people who don’t take their own calls. And CXOs receive more email and paper mail than they can ever look at. To get the ear of influential executives, more and more growing technology companies are taking a page from the likes of Adobe, Qualcomm, SAP, Cisco and others. They are cleverly connecting with the C-suite outside the conventional sales context, through such programs as high-profile executive events and customer advisory boards. It’s a surprisingly powerful way to build credibility with CXOs and senior executives. Instead of hammering away through conventional sales channels, you foster a meaningful dialogue with the executives about what’s on their collective minds. Executed properly, this council and event approach lets you build working relationships rather quickly — and without the sometimes contentious feel of the sales situation. You can place yourself in the middle of the action very quickly.8 Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2011
  9. 9. Target your top 10 CXOs We have found CXOs are frequently flattered to be invited, especially when approached in the right way. (It always helpsHow do customer boards work? There are any number of to say you’re looking for ‘forward-thinkers’ and ‘people withpermutations, depending on the nature of the industry or unique insights into the industry’.) Your CXOs can also benefitproducts involved. But you essentially bring together 10 or 12 a great deal from a well-run Board; they keep up to date ontop executives from your customer companies -- or even from technologies and trends, and they can equip their organizationsprospects — to regularly confer and interact on key issues of with better tools. Many also find it invaluable to network withcommon interest. It involves some mix of conference calls, ad their peers in other companies; wide exposure in the industry ishoc discussions as well as on-site meetings once or twice a year. always a good thing.It might even include large-scale “Executive Expos’ or similarevents, where you bring in guest speakers, or have your own A caveat: If a Board degrades into thinly veiled sales venue,customers deliver presentations or demos. execs will bail out quickly and the sponsor’s reputation will take an irrevocable hit. While your goal is clearly to build sales, it’sNaturally, finding that area of ‘common interest’ is crucial. never wise to be selling product at your Board functions.CXOs won’t be interested in getting together to talk aboutyour products, or to hear sales pitches. The idea is to frame the Besides, if you manage your discussions right, you can be askedpurpose and tenor of your board carefully — which is why it’s a to ‘send someone around to talk to my IT guy.’good idea to bring in a specialist to design the program andfinesse the recruiting. What to expectBuilding a C-Level story Depending on your particular circumstances, an active and vigorous Board can empower your sales organization severalWhat sort of topics and issues will make CXOs want to participate? different ways:Much depends on your unique situation, of course. But ingeneral, remember that CXOs will not especially interested in • Better access to your execs and decision-makers. Veryproducts per se. They wrestle with higher-level issues, and work simply, they will know whom you are -- and will take youron longer horizons. calls.If your business is Storage Area Networks, let’s say, maybe • Wider influence in your customer’s organization. Referralsyour board could focus on data security issues, or regulatory from senior execs can open up far more opportunities, andcompliance, business continuity. If you sell PBXs and voice larger ones.messaging, maybe your board is more about information flow in • Insights into real concerns and needs of your customerthe organization, or productivity. organizations. And you’ll typically hear about initiatives orWith Nice Systems (, who specializes in analytics programs long before they filter down to street level. Yousystems used in contact centers and 911 facilities, we designed will also be far better versed in talking about C-Level issues,the Board to focus on the types of information and intelligence with better perspective.they could harvest from their customer interactions — and how Perhaps most important, your Board activities take yourthey could use it in the organization. company’s stature to a much higher level in the customer’sOther boards have more of an advisory feel, where CXOs view. You establish yourself more as a partner organization, aprovide input and feedback on technology directions, or present collaborator, a consultant rather than merely a problems they need to solve. The key is to focus on That’s where the bigger sales come in.what your CXOs are interested in most -- which is usually theirown companies and performance.Why CXOs like itWhy would senior executives want to participate in such aprogram? Oddly enough, we have found execs are often verywilling to sign on -- provided of course, your board has anappealing focus. We even find that execs even help in recruitingfellow CXOs in other companies. www.IgniteAG.comAbout the AuthorEyal Danon is President of Ignite Advisory Group. Ignite AG opens up a dialogue between companies and senior decision makersleading to improved customer experience levels and to a sales and marketing force that thinks and speaks like your customers.We specialize in fostering executive connections for our clients between their executives and their customers’ senior decisionmakers through a variety of solutions including Customer Advisory Boards, User Groups, executive forums and more.Ignite AG works with Fortune 500 companies as well as other industry leaders across the B2B spectrum. Customers and MemberCompanies include Adobe, Aetna, CitiBank, AMEX, West Corporation, Sykes, Orange, Convergys, Scottrade, SAS, DirectTV, FidelityInvestment, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and the Principal Financial Group. 9 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  10. 10. SALES&MARKETING by Alicia Anderson When the end of the year draws near, it’s certain that you’ll be seeing a lot more of the following things: • The bottom of your wallet as you buy holiday presents for those you love (and those you merely tolerate). • The cocktail dress or spiffy sweater in the back of the closet that you trot out yet again for this year’s round of parties. • And predictions for the following year. You know - those predictions from a variety of “authorities” about political events, fashion trends, and all kinds of vital matters. Who can resist predictions? They make us feel smart, like we’re getting a jump on the competition. Predictions are inevitably also a comment on what’s happened already. In that spirit, we offer Bellwether readers our Top B2B Marketing Predictions for 2012. 1. Personalization of the experience is key. With websites being 3. B2B goes B2C. We’ve actually been saying this for a while, the most important resource for information for prospective but it’s time to acknowledge that businesses are made up of buyers, companies will begin tailoring customers’ “paths” in people. People buy based on the connections they make and the cycle, offering them different content based on how they the trust established there. Social media is a great way to make found your business, analyzing web behavior and offering them these connections on a personal level, and lead individuals to unique pages or calls-to-action based on what and how they your business by telling stories that appeal to personal needs search. and wants. 2. Sales has fewer steps to closing, but must execute better to 4. Marketing must go mobile. We’re all accessing content on win. With online information, leads qualify themselves, and help phones and tablets, so your website and email must play well themselves to the information they need to make a preliminary in those environments. Especially if you are selling technology. buying decision. Salespeople must be prepared to dig deeper 5. Marketers are journalists. Content marketing (drawing when they finally connect with this educated buyer, asking the customers to your community by publishing information right questions to analyze where the fit with your product is. that they want or need) is King, and marketers must be like Marketing can help the sales team be successful by creating newspaper editors – constantly tracking down and telling the this deep, detailed content – maybe an assessment tool or case story that appeals to as many eyes as possible. We must stay studies in the target market would help your sales team close current to stay relevant. Keep that in mind when hiring your business faster. Evaluate your sales cycle and support your marketing team – curious and engaged content creators will team with the materials they need. help you succeed.10 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  11. 11. Does Your CustomerStrategy LookLike This?Well it doesn’t haveto be that hard.WWW.BUILD-STRATEGY.COM 11 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  12. 12. SALES&MARKETING Inside the Blytheco, LLC Marketing Department Planning Session for 2012 by Apryl Hanson W e are no different than any of you, our readers. We need to take time out from our day-to-day roles to plan for a successful year. This November we did just that, and I want to share with you the framework we created to help ourselves with that planning session so that you may do the same. Goals of a 3. Creating lasting bonding moments - Having people planning working in a room together for a designated period of time should produce some type of bond. If not session led properly, it can often go the other way, driving separation and anxiety in your team members. 1. Create an actual plan - The overall goal of any planning session What techniques did we use to ensure success? should be to come out with an actual plan of how you will attack the year. We created a master timeline of how the three days we I’ve seen many planning sessions be were spending together would go. Everyone knew what completed without any idea about the expectations were of that time, and agreed that the what comes next. time we would spend together was important, enough to put aside our daily routine to focus on what we could 2. Get everyone’s feedback, accomplish together. As the leader, it was important for me involvement and buy-in. This can to come up with a mixture of both working sessions and fun be tough in a world of different sessions to not burn-out our team and make people feel personalities and comfort levels among brain dead by the end of the day. your team members. In this article, we will talk about how you can inspire and The first thing we did was reflect on the past year by asking keep the team moving three sets of questions, one at a time. productively. • What worked well? • What didn’t work well? • What did we learn, and how will we do it differently? When we went through this exercise I provided post-it notes to everyone on the team (all in the same color so that no one person’s feedback would stand out), so that they could take 10 minutes and think about the year from their perspective and write down their feedback. Everyone wrote each idea on a separate sticky note and posted the notes on a white board or giant sticky-note board (we love 3M). If they found that their idea was already up on the board they would simply place their note underneath the duplicated idea. As a leader, once everyone’s ideas were included, we went through all of the ideas and made sure that everyone agreed that they should be on the board, and that everyone understood each of the mentioned thoughts. We repeated this processes with each of the questions until all of our ideas were consolidated. With that we could move into more actionable thoughts verses the reflection portion. We had now set ourselves up for the productive12 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  13. 13. boggedconversation of “now what.” down, and frustrated with the amount of workThis process, better known as an “After Action Review” that was just added by your planning meeting.can be done at the end of any project or program - itdoesn’t have to wait until the end of an entire year. In Choosing What to Work onfact, we use this exercise all year long when we finish a Once we had a list of items we wanted to start doing assignificant project. a team, we knew it wouldn’t be realistic to do all of them, so we had to narrow it down to those things we wantedImportant Dialogue - We talked about those things that to implement in 2012 and measure for success. To do this,weren’t successful versus those things that were successful I gave everyone 6 votes. They could spend those 6 votesand tried to understand if there were any themes that on one item or split them up however they wanted. Whenwe could pick out. This helped us identify themes that the voting was completed we would have our top threecontributed to our success and those things that we items.repeatedly got wrong.Fun Event - This process ended our first day and we Creating a Plan for the Futurewere then able to wrap-up in a fun evening event that We could have easily ended the offsite there, but wedeveloped our team communication. Go to our blog would have walked out of the room without a plan of howat or follow this QR code to see we were going to approach these new things in 2012.everyone’s thoughts on our team building event. Instead we took one more day to put more depth into the plans.Start – Stop – Continue We divided the team into groups and each team choseAs I was ready to move the team into more actionable their topics and had everyone separate for at least andata and facts, we began the next day with what I have hour. During that hour they were to come up with specificlearned as the “Start, Stop and Continue” exercise. I plans of how we would implement this new idea. Afterlearned the exercise from my favorite HR professionals as the one hour, teams would come back and present theira great way to get more feedback from your teams as a ideas to each other, so we could ask questions, and makeleader, but I’ve found that it can also be used to focus in decisions on how we wanted to proceed.on learning from everyone’s perspective what a team cando to change and transition. I also had one concept that I felt it was important enough for us to spend time on, so after this exercise, we dividedAs the day before, we continued with our sticky notes the group again for some brainstorming on an issue thatwith: we were faced with to come up with several different• What do we need to START doing as a team? approaches to the same challenge. Again, we came back to present the thoughts to each other and make decisions• What do we need to STOP doing as a team? on how we would move forward.• What do we need to CONTINUE doing as a team? As you can see, you can use these types of exercises inThe hardest part for my team was determining what it is different ways.that we should stop doing. Believe it or not, our marketingteam has some overachievers in it who think they can do For more on planning a successful off-site for your teameverything, and conquer the world. We try, but it is healthier visit our blog for ideas and my team members’ thoughtsto try to introduce new things while you are sun-setting on how this planning session went.some of the old. This way your team doesn’t get overloaded, 13 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  14. 14. COVERSTORY 4 Things Every Business Should Know by Mark Badran About Marketing in 2012 I t seems that each year brings a flurry of predictions (like ‘the death of email’) and cutting-edge marketing tactics (you know, anything associated with social media) by Howard Hansen that are going to drive customers to your door by the thousands. And while new marketing tools seem to crop up daily, the most important thing to keep in mind is this … The basics of good marketing haven’t changed – timeless best practices like defining your target market, identifying your competitive differentiators, nurturing leads, and staying top of mind … But the way people EVALUATE and BUY Social Media is More products and services has DEFINITELY changed. Than a Fad Here are four things you should know about In the past, the ability marketing in 2012 that can help you find new to build your brand, customers in this brave new socially-aware, generate awareness, Google-dominated world we do business in. and stay top of mind was limited to A Healthy Dose of Keywords costly tactics like Keywords are paramount to everything you do. Why? direct mail and Because search - and specifically, Google search visibility dreaded cold calls. - is still top dog in marketing. But if the content on your But social media website isn’t optimized around important keyword phrases, changed all that. Google is going to have a tough time finding you. So, too, No longer just a fun will the people searching for solutions to the problems that way to kill time, social media has become a legitimate way your products and services can solve. of building your business. It’s time to make 2012 the year you suit up and jump in to the deep end of the social pool. Keywords should be strategically included on your website, blog entries, press releases, and everywhere else you’re Not sure where to start? Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn posting content online. The Google Keyword Estimator are the largest and most widely used social networks out ( is a free tool that can be there. If you aren’t already active on one or all three of helpful in determining the relevance and search volume of them, it’s a good place to start. keywords in your industry.14 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  15. 15. It’s worth noting that Google and other search engines are a traditional newsletter and other one-way marketingnow heavily influenced by activity on social networks. The communication can’t support.more people that like, share, tweet, and link to your website, A blog is also a cohesive way to implement the 3 marketingthe better your search results are going to be. tips discussed above. For instance, your blog entries canEmail is Still Highly Effective incorporate keywords to improve search visibility, you can share new blog entries with your social network and driveWhile social media is the shiny new object attracting a huge traffic to your website, and you can link to your blog fromaudience, email hasn’t lost its luster. Despite predictions email communication which can improve readership.of the death of email marketing, it’s still one of the mosteffective tools for converting prospects into customers. Wordpress ( is one of the most popular blogging platforms because it’s easy to use and offers a“Conversion” is the operative term here. Sure, social media huge variety of free design great for generating awareness and building an audiencethat recognizes your brand. But when it comes to motivating Don’t Forget About the Basicsthat audience to reach into their wallets and become As you look out into 2012 and decide which social mediapaying customers, nothing beats timely and targeted email platform, marketing automation technology, or collectioncommunication. of marketing techniques is right for you, don’t forget about the timeless best practices that are critical in making any of those fancy new marketing tools work effectively. About Mark Badran Mark Badran is Managing Partner at Juice Marketing, LLC. With an extensive background in technology, Mark and his firm help Sage, Microsoft, and SAP business partners squeeze the most out of their marketing dollar. From newsletters, press releases, and lead EMAIL generation to blog entries, SEO, and social media coaching, you get fantastic results when you put some JUICE in your MARKETING. Learn more about their turnkey marketing programs and creative writing services atGo Blog Wild www.Juice-Marketing.comFor many companies, blogging is the hub of their marketingcommunication … and for good reason. First, Google lovesthe frequently-updated, fresh content of a blog so yoursearch engine results will probably improve. Plus, bloggingis a great way to express your unique voice, personality, andthought leadership as a business … in a way that stodgy old,brochure-style corporate websites can’t. Last, a blog canbe dynamic and engaging because your readers can leavecomments and contribute to the conversation. Something 15 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  16. 16. PLANNING What Went Well in 2011 by Apryl Hanson I t is important when we are planning for a new year to look back and reflect on those things that we did well in the previous year. To stay with that theme, I thought it would be fun to take a look at 2011 and what happened that was helpful to small to medium- sized businesses, and what trends will continue to gain momentum on in 2012. Every business industry will have its nuances, but I’m looking at it from the general small to medium-sized business category and what was helpful to us as a society and a community. We “Liked” Facebook Tablets are Changing our Consumption of Information Why is this important to us? Facebook leveled the playing field for small to medium-sized businesses to be able to get their We have been forever changed by mobility in our organization. message out. Asking loyal customers to “like” you on Facebook Whether it is a phone or a tablet like an iPad, we have been gave businesses a low cost way to interact more socially with impacted positively this year. There are three ways in which their clientele and advanced brands beyond being able to these devices have changed our world: send e-mail and call. This helped increase the interaction with • Faster access of information. loyal enthusiasts of your brand and greatly reduced the cost • Faster generation of information. associated with developing your image. In 2012 we should look • Our higher rate of consumption of information. to continue to ask people to “like” us and look for ways to do specific marketing on Facebook pages that keeps people on All of these have impacted us in our business by enabling us to Facebook. Contests for “liking” your page can bring you more have information at our fingertips in order to make decisions. followers and help you spread your message faster. For 2012, wider use of these devices in the work environment will come into play has you will see people utilizing SaaS systems The Cloud Became More Important to access information through their tablets and phones. Why? Many of us realized that “Software as a Service” (SaaS) was Social Media Exploded much more economically justifiable that purchasing it outright. Monthly fees associated with cloud products are much friendlier Whether you realized it or not, or have been taking advantage on our pocket books and lowered the risk of worrying about of it or not, social media is here to stay. In 2011, many small operating systems and IT structure that we may or may not have. businesses used this as their way to interact differently with As we move into 2012, look for more offerings to be deployed customers and potential customers to get their message out. in the cloud and for many more of us to be considering this Everyone from restaurants to retail stores to manufacturers as a long term approach to doing business. As more and more and distributors was interacting on social platforms like Twitter, teams are becoming virtual, the usability of only needing a web LinkedIn, and Facebook – we took interaction to the next level. connection to work is increasingly attractive. In 2012, look for more applications to be created for small to medium-sized business to be able to interact quicker, get fans faster and deploy communications to their audience.16 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  17. 17. Social Media and Honesty • Increase in productivity from those employees that work from home.Social media has also played a role in keeping bigger companies • Decrease in sick leave because workers from home remainhonest. How did this work for us as small to medium-sized healthier and spread fewer germs.businesses in 2011? For one, we were able to interact with those • Overall organizational effectiveness and telecommuters stay focused on tasks/projects.that we do business with in a different way. If we came across • Decrease in turn-over as employees who are telecommuting areissues, we could take it to public forums to get answers quickly on average happier and less likely to leave.and get challenges resolved. This changed the way we worked with • Reduction in parking requirements (if you have them).some of our larger vendors. In 2012, we will see more interaction, • Office space savings (if you can downsize).and in fact, many larger businesses will push smaller organizationsto communicate with them via these forums for quicker sharing of I did the math at the calculator online at http://www.telecommutect.information. com/employers/service6.php and the average first year return is $7895 and annual savings after the first year are about $8435 forWomen continue to get more and more a $50,000 employee telecommuting 2 days a week from home,of the corner offices not to mention what the savings will be to the environment and your own employee’s reduction in gas consumption. In 2012 theAccording to the American Express OPEN’s business census survey, prediction is that the trend will continue to increase and more andwomen-owned businesses in the United States increased by a rate more employees will be working either part time or full time fromof 1.5 times (50%) the national average. Women-owned firms now home.account for 29% of all business in the U.S. While this has had apositive impact on small business growth when looking at privately Social Media add-ons galoreheld firms, we are also seeing the trend of more women gettingcorner offices in larger organizations as well. Online in Ted Talks, In 2011, there has certainly been an influx of apps for social mediaHanna Rosin speaks about how the power dynamics are shifting in but there has also been a change in the way many of these appsthe world between men and women, and this is playing out in our interact with you and your devices. Ever notice your Smartphonebusinesses. asking you to give it permission to access your location-based data?• For every two men that graduate from college, three women will graduate. This is because many social media applications are now marketing• Women are dominating careers as doctors, lawyers, bankers and/or interacting with you based on your location. Now with and accountants. Facebook’s recent mobile app upgrade, you can seamlessly input• Women make up 50% of the workplace. your location if not have it done automatically. Twitter does this as• Couples using fertility clinics are requesting girls seventy-five well. Also, with Twitter and Facebook’s recent upgrades, it’s now percent of the time. much easier to share media from your Smartphone. You can now• Young women are earning more than young men and are more generally do it in two clicks. likely to be the first time home buyers by themselves.For 2012 this will impact us as more and more women will be You might have noticed an increase in location-based or groupholding those high paying positions. We will shift our marketing selling. By now most of us how already heard of Groupon, butefforts to be more women-focused because they will be the ones in 2011, livingsocial grew tremendously, and that’s not evenmaking larger purchases. considering their $175 million investment from Amazon, who now also has their own location-based selling service. Google alsoTelecommuting makes more and more released their ‘Offers’ program. And lastly, rounding out the groupsense for employees Facebook also offers special daily ‘deals’. Groupon and livingsocialIn 2005/2006, the National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS) now also their instant buying programs, allowing consumers to getfound 11% of employees are telecommuting either full or part many of the same offers with an instantaneous purchase.time, accounting for 10.6 million people. The survey also asked, 2011 has seen tremendous growth in location based services (LBS).for those not currently telecommuting, if their company offered I would expect 2012 to see several of these companies merge ortelecommuting, would they take advantage of it? According to unfortunately shut down due to a glut of similar companies in thethat statistic telecommuting would grow from 11% to 16%. In 2011 marketplace.we have seen this growth, and what is it doing for us? Some of thedirect benefits of having employees telecommute are: 17 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  18. 18. PLANNING WHAT SHOULD SMB’S CONTINUE TO DO IN 2012 by Apryl Hanson W e all started a few new things this past year and each year we should learn from our past, not only the things we should stop doing, but those things that we should continue because we got it right. Across the board small to medium-sized businesses have been focusing on their core strengths and getting those things that they are really good at even better. There are several things we should keep doing in 2012 to continue our success. Learning from failure Looking for pieces of the business to outsource We learned not just in 2011 but in the past few years that we The number one thing that SMBs outsource is payroll, but now have gotten a few things wrong. Instead of sticking our heads many more online solutions are becoming available that help in the sand we have turned to use this to our advantage and SMBs take that headache and worry away. We learned this learned from our mistakes. We should create rituals not only to past year that seeking outsourced solutions is worthwhile for learn from our mistakes but to learn from our successes and this our businesses, and in 2012 we will continue to look for things is a practice we should continue into the future. that are smart to outsource. Things like tax calculations, social media, website design, and marketing are just a few new areas Looking for more effective ways to do business that businesses will continue to outsource more in 2012. Instead of focusing on efficiencies, we’ve turned to results and Going mobile effectiveness. In 2012 we should continue to look for ways to drive more effective results in our organization focusing on In 2011 we dipped our toe in mobile solutions, but now most leading indicators like client loyalty and employee happiness. people are accessing online social media sites and e-mail from their phone. We will continue to look for ways that our Automating more processes employees can access our systems remotely. Another way to increase productivity is to allow employees to telecommute. To go along with looking for more ways to be effective, we have Even one day a week increases employee satisfaction and automated a lot of processes this past year. The numbers of loyalty which correlates into clients that we work with are looking for ways they can get a happier customers and return on investment by purchasing enhancements to their profitability. In 2012 systems in which they can reduce head count or waste. This is more of our workforce something that SMB’s will continue to do in 2012, as we want to will be logging in use our resources as wisely as we possibly can. remotely and that will cause all of us to look Going paperless for more effective We have seen a huge shift in the small to medium-sized business ways for them to space to looking for solutions that allow them to eliminate access the tools they the need for paper and to have processes that allow them need quickly and to electronically save and transfer files, even with processes easily. attached to them such as approvals. This will continue to be the Giving back focus in 2012. We may not have had a lot of Fine tuning reporting money to give, but small to medium- If you are looking for ways to be more effective and automate sized businesses found ways to processes, you need information at your fingertips. In 2011, donate to causes they SMB’s learned they wanted information in a format in which were passionate about. In they could examine those results and add their own analysis. everything from assembling When we have held customer events this past year on this topic, teams to walk for a cause they have been our best-attended events - this is important to to giving employees hours the clients we serve. Fine tuning reporting will continue to be a to spend with their charity, focus in 2012, as we need to have visual data representing what we became more giving in is going on in our businesses so we can make decisions about 2011, and I anticipate that the future. to continue in 2012.18 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  19. 19. PLANNINGDEAD What Didn’t Work forEND Businesses in 2011 Small to Medium-Sized by Alicia Anderson I t’s been a year full of challenges for the SMB (small to mid-sized business), but also a year of unexpected promise. The economy continues to be uncertain and unemployment is still too high. Global volatility and impending regulations threaten stability in the SMB sector. But SMBs are also getting smarter and learning how to • Finding skilled workers on the internet – One of the take advantage of the many new tools and tactics that help greatest threats to economic growth in the US today them level the playing field with larger businesses. Never is the “skills gap.” Legions of American workers have missed the memo that information and technology before have smaller companies had so many advantages are how we will work now and into the future, and are when it comes to technology, branding, messaging, and finding themselves left behind. Sadly, our educational growth. system is not keeping up with economic realities. Skilled workers who can process information and adapt to What didn’t work for SMBs in 2011? A few concepts that hit using technology to help them do their jobs are in great the skids in 2011 as SMBs continue to evolve: demand, despite unemployment that hovers around 10% in many states, but you won’t find those workers • Outsourcing – There are signs that manufacturing may on anymore. Smart be coming back to the US, after a trend of outsourcing to companies are using LinkedIn and overseas resources. Because of the growing expense of personal connections to find employment overseas, declining quality, and increasing new employees. shipping costs, 61% of manufacturing executives surveyed by Accenture say they are considering “more closely matching supply location with demand location,” • Work life balance – according to a June, 2011 article on finance.fortune.cnn. Work-life balance is fast I also love the story from an October New York Times becoming an outdated article about Taphandles, a company that manufactures concept. Work is beer marketing products, like cool handles for beer taps. everywhere with mobile Owner Paul Fichter cites a 300% increase in labor costs technology (phones, in their Chinese plant since 2006 and a lack of clarity in tablets, and “cloud” the “rules” of doing business in China as reasons for his solutions), and the growth company’s decision to shift some of its manufacturing of telecommuting means back to Washington. workers are almost always “on.” But it also means we can deal with our personal • Boring Websites – The days of website-as-brochure are life anytime, too. The lines over. If your website is out of date, static, or broken, get are blurry, and life is no help now. If your website is all “me, me, me,” proclaiming longer conveniently all the great things your business does and the awards compartmentalized for you have won, no one cares. If your website features a lot many of us. It requires of “gobbledygook” about how your “robust solutions” a mastery of time and “customer-centric approach” can help customers management and achieve a new “paradigm” of success, get real. Plain organization to keep language is where it’s at now – tell customers what’s in up, but get used to it! it for them in regular old words. But just for fun, try the Plain English Campaign’s Gobbledygook Generator first, at 19 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  20. 20. BOOKREPORT by Geni Whitehouse N o matter how terrifying the thought might be, at some point in your life you will need to stand up and make a presentation. It doesn’t have to be a formal presentation. You might be toasting the bride and groom at a wedding, describing a new product you’ve designed, or moderating a panel at a wine tasting dinner. In any circumstance, a good presentation can be the difference between an evening to remember and an affair to forget. With a little help from these three books, you can learn to not only overcome your fear of public speaking, but to actually make a difference for your audience. Even a Geek Can Speak: Low-Tech Presentation Skills for High-Tech People | Joey Asher Start here. Even if you aren’t involved in technology this book is a goldmine. It addresses every issue that has probably ever come up in a bad presentation you have witnessed. Joey’s helpful and humorous approach to solving common presenter problems will help anyone who wants to get better at making their point. He provides a structure and a framework for not only crafting an interesting message, but also for delivering it. His book includes plenty of examples that help to bring his points (and your next presentation) to life. The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within | Edward R. Tufts If you’re sick of watching a boring speaker wade through the world’s biggest PowerPoint slide deck, this book is for you. This short but intellectually stimulating guide will make you question your approach to creating charts and graphs and every other form of communicating data. Tufts, who had been called “The Leonardo da Vinci of data” doesn’t try to hide his disdain for PowerPoint style sheets or his disgust with bulleted lists. He is dismayed that people with intelligent thoughts are reduced to pitch-makers by their reliance on Microsoft PowerPoint and suggests Microsoft Word as our best tool for effective presentations. He dares us all to return to a world of full sentences and detailed analysis. Slide:ology, the art and science of creating great presentations | Nancy Duarte Rather than blaming PowerPoint for the millions of bad presentations that occur every day, Duarte aims to improve the use of the tool in conveying a message. She takes a designer’s look at common ways of conveying different messages and offers case studies to make her point. Her secrets even helped Al Gore lose his famously robotic presentation style. Whether you decide to use PowerPoint in your next presentation or not, the book’s insight into different design principles, and its fascinating examination of color, motion, and even fonts will help you improve every form of communication. About Geni Whitehouse A self-proclaimed nerd, former technology executive and CPA firm partner, Geni Whitehouse has made it her mission to eliminate boring from the world of presentations. The author of “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard,” Geni believes her mission as a presenter is to understand a subject well enough to approach it from an angle that will not only educate her audiences—but will resonate with them. Learn more at Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  21. 21. Put Some Geni WhitehouseIn Your SPEAKER AUTHORCost-effective marketing programs designed for Sage, CONSULTANT NERDSAP, and Microsoft business partners including: She’s been called the “comedian CPA.” Social Media Coaching A self-proclaimed nerd, experienced software Newsletters executive and former CPA firm partner, Press Releases Geni Whitehouse has made it her mission to Success Stories eliminate boring from the world of presentations. Creative Writing STRATEGY Website SEO EXECUTION Blog Entries EVANGELISM CONTENT DEVELOPMENTSqueezethe MOSTOut of YourMarketing Dollar 21 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  22. 22. CUSTOMERRELATIONSHIPS Y ou say that you want them - devoted cult-like Have you put together a plan to make sure that customers following your customers you around, singing are being your praises…but delivered the best what have you done experience ever? for them lately? What is even required to do that? Here are our tips for 2012 to make sure you have a successful year: by Apryl Hanson • Get out of the office and make some visits • Do the math. Look at the statistics on your clients to customers. Not just any customers - your good for this year vs. previous years. If you don’t have those ones. The ones that you love and they love you. Make statistics, get them. You can do this with most CRM and the most of the time together by asking their advice on ERP packages if they are integrated, allowing you can what you’ve done right in 2011 and what you’ve done see what your cost to get a client is, what your cost to wrong. Ask this very important question “What one thing service a client is and what your revenue per client is. do you wish we were offering?” You might find out that You can also segment customers by a rating system of you should be offering a product or service to them that your choice so you can understand better who your top you currently do not. This is one way to increase customer clients are. You can look at likeability factor, revenue per satisfaction and improve your revenue per customer. year, revenue per transaction, repeat business and more to determine who your top long term customers are • Drop your time wasters! If you have clients that today, and who will be tomorrow. aren’t happy with you and you aren’t happy with them, it is a misuse of your company’s time to continue to try • Get out of your box! You may be doing things to serve them. In fact, too often companies modify their the same way that you have for the past ten years, but product and service offerings to cater to these customers that doesn’t mean that they are the best ways to do and end up becoming more attractive to clients that look things. Look at your organization from the outside, the like them. Trust me, you don’t want more customers that customers’ view and document every touch point that don’t like you buying more and taking more of your time. you have with your customers from the time they are a By removing these types of customers you will have prospect all the way through the process of being an more time to spend with the customers who love you, ongoing customer. In each stage (such as prospect, making better relationships and increasing overall return lead, sales process, on-boarding, new product use, on investment with them. repeat customer), document the ways in which the clients receive information and interactions with you. • Identify customers with potential! That is Is it through phone calls, websites, direct mail? Even right, have your teams go through their lists and identify document your invoicing process. When you look at customers that could be potentially much bigger clients if it in this non-emotional way you can see holes in your they had some time spent with them. Book appointments processes. Highlight the ones you are doing well – and and take representatives out along with even an then focus on what you can do to improve the holes and executive from your company to better understand their the areas you aren’t performing well in. This will help you potential. You will make a big impression and uncover plan projects for 2012 that will immediately improve the business opportunities. customer’s experience.22 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  23. 23. INDUSTRYNEWSMaximize Your Chances by Mark Grimes for Software FundingI mproving your business and personal credit profile is critical before applying for a software lease. Beloware some simple ways to do this, which will maximizeyour chances of obtaining an approval with the mostfavorable terms.Is your company in good standing? you are applying with as part of the application process.All corporations must bein good standing with the Are personal guaranteesdepartment of corporations necessary?in the state which they Personal guarantees are generallyare authorized to conduct required for closely-held companiesbusiness. Every state offers that have been in business less than fivean online portal, generally years. Providing audited or reviewedfree of charge, to check your financials may eliminate the requirement,corporation status. Make if the company has a profitable history.sure you are on active status, Make sure your personal credit is in orderand that the ownership of your by contacting Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Theycompany is properly reported. Any misinformation regarding will provide you with a free credit report, and help you dispute anyownership, or if your corporation is inactive, will delay the lease erroneous information. Subscribing to a third part service such asapproval process and in some cases be reason enough for a Free Credit Report .com will also help you monitor any suspiciousdecline. activity. Banks consider the personal credit of the owners to beUpdate your Dun & Bradstreet report. the most important factor in making a credit decision. If your credit score is below 650, review your report to determine ways toDun & Bradstreet is the benchmark business credit report banks rely increase your score. Scores under 650 may be considered for leaseupon to evaluate the business credit of all companies nationwide. approval, but generally at less favorable terms.This report will analyze previous leases and loans and pay historywith current suppliers. It will also list all liens, suits and judgments Are financial statements required?and report past bankruptcy filings, and detail current ownership I most cases, financial statements and tax returns are required forand the respective corporate titles. Lastly, they will assign a Paydex transactions greater than $100,000. Providing qualified financialsscore and a rating. To be acceptable for approval, you must have will always yield the lowest rate and can save you thousands ofa Paydex score of 65 and rating of 1r2. Scores lower than this will dollars over the term of the lease. Before applying for a lease,either be declined or be considered for approval at unfavorable make an appointment with your tax professional to discuss theterms. To obtain a report, call 800-333-0505. Make sure to clarify merits of your financial statements. If your company has beenthe corporate ownership and officers, as any discrepancy will cause historically profitable, you may consider including your statementsdelays in the approval process. in hopes of qualifying for the best terms possible.Have you borrowed money before? About the Author Mark Grimes is with Dimension Funding, one of the mostIf you have previous borrowing experience with a bank, leasingcompany, or any other financial institution, make sure that call your respected equipment lessors in Southern California.lender and have them provide you with a debt rating. Lenders Dimension uses its almost-30 years of expertise andprefer to make loans to companies with previous borrowing knowledge to create leasing programs that best fit ourexperience. Provide this information to the leasing company clients’ needs. Learn more about Dimension Funding at 23 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  24. 24. Managing the Employee Selection Process: An Objective Look for 2012 R by Jeffrey Williams ecently, one of the very top service companies in the world hired a highly professional, well-qualified executive to run its Worldwide Sales organization after an exhaustive search. The candidate was considered “bulletproof” since they were already highly respected and well known in the same industry as the hiring company, had over twenty years of exemplary experience, and had been thoroughly vetted by a blue ribbon Board Selection committee. The individual had starred in numerous interviews at the highest level of the company, which is known as a premier place to work. The person even passed a thorough background check. Everything was in place for a great on-boarding experience, right? This consummate professional resigned less than a week in the position. How could such a precise process wind up going so terribly wrong? If companies really want to improve employee greatly complicated the job of identifying the best management practices in 2012, maybe they should candidates for important positions. This is coupled explore what the vast majority of the Fortune with an environment of candidate desperation 500 have already learned and implemented. as unemployment and economic pressures force That is: behavioral and psychological testing for even well intentioned candidates to exaggerate potential new hires, newly on-boarded employees their qualifications and past accomplishments. and high potential candidates for promotion or Internally, the situation for selecting candidates to increasing responsibility can predict with amazing fill high leverage opportunities is often not much consistency where organizations and potential better. Performance reviews often focus on specific superstar employees simply are not culturally or skills and knowledge while leaving the areas of organizationally aligned for success. management style capabilities vague or subject to interpretation by internal interviewers at the time The problem with many companies’ current such candidates respond to internal job postings. processes is that they focus on inherently biased data. The plethora of materials and “How To” books For 2012, I would urge progressive HR professionals on writing resumes to take advantage of applicant to look to behavioral testing as an objective source tracking key word scanning, articles on “How To to supplement their Best Practice processes already Interview” to stack the deck in favor of the candidate in place. Well honed, professionally administered and the ever present legal liability associated behavioral and psychological tests can provide with “Reference Checking” prior employers has objective analysis that examine a candidate’s fitness24 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012
  25. 25. for job responsibilities and can be an excellent predictor of futuresuccess in the prospective job role. In order to get the mostvalue from these tests, one should look at three attributes:1. nsure the testing organization you choose has a E well documented history of success in delivering tangible insights about its tested candidates.2. heck the “validation” techniques and C principles of test construction to verify they are nondiscriminatory and scientifically valid.3. ost importantly, make sure tests are directed M at specific behavioral attributes necessary for the candidate’s success in the specified career role they will be assuming. The chosen Assessment company should have an industry skilled Professional Services team already in place to work with its clients to confirm these attributes are proven to produce top performers in these specific job responsibilities.While behavioral and psychological testing is not a substitute forestablished HR Best Practices in sourcing, qualifying, interviewing, backgroundchecking and ultimately selecting the best candidates for critical leveragepositions in the company, it can offer targeted objective input that can helpdifferentiate between just “qualified and talented” candidates and thosethat can make a really meaningful positive impact for years to comei.e., a “real difference maker.” By building your workforce in2012 using these proven predictive tools for success, yourcompany should see the impact on your organization and itsgrowth in revenue and profitability not only in the New Yearbut for many subsequent years thereafter.About the AuthorJeffrey Williams is Vice President of Channel Sales and Alliances forThe Devine Group of Cincinnati, Ohio. Williams has over 30 years ofexperience in the HR Services industry with outsourced payroll processingand tax compliance services, background and employee qualificationscreening as well as executive leadership in the HRMS software industry,including leadership of Sage’s Abra product sales organization.The Devine Group serves more than 4,000 clients worldwide and has over40 years service strengthening companies by providing them with insightfulbehavioral and psychological assessment testing. Information is available 25 bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership
  26. 26. SOCIALMEDIA The Top 6 Things to Expect fr 2012 by Cortez Napue S ocial media is an ever-evolving branch of marketing. There seems to always be new products or updates enticing us to forever be logged into our Facebook accounts. This year we saw the social media giant introduce Facebook FACEB timeline while also changing the way we interact the platform by adding more filter options and real-time features. Google also revealed Google+ in 2011 which is supposed to be their social networking WEBSITE answer for Facebook cynics. While Google+’s membership is nowhere near Facebook’s 800 million, its brand pages are showing promise. Although there have been continual changes the Apple app - in the sector, social media is dynamic and has which was great the ability to adapt to virtually any cultural shift. because the line YOUTUBE As human preference is always changing, social to the cashier media must do the same in order to remain was out the door. relevant. With this in mind, it’s safe to bet that So, I scanned the there will likely be other significant changes in iPhone case’s QR code social media in 2012. Here are my top six picks with my phone, the product for what trends to expect in the upcoming year: total was taken from my iTunes account, and I was e-mailed a receipt. Of course Apple 1. Social Commerce – The other day asked me if I wanted to share my purchase I went to the 24 hour Apple store on Fifth on Facebook, but I respectfully declined. Avenue in New York City and checked in Similarly Google has Google Wallet which using Foursquare. The App let me know turns your mobile phone into a virtual wallet that I could make purchases there using by allowing you to simply touch your phone26 Bellwether Magazine | First Quarter 2012