Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Through many, many conversations with top leaders of all kinds and sizes of organizations several common elements have emerged.
Get cash and hold it as cash – from the chair, the sense is to get and horde cash – do not shift into long-term or market-driven vehicles…got burned badly! With cash there’s agility and some insulation from the unknown.
Go Slow Taking On Additional Resources – organizations have trimmed staff, and cut expenses to the quick in the face of flagging demand and sales. From the chair, as times improve (which is not as rapid as in past cycles) - there is no hurry to rehire workers or to increase spending.
Demand and Sales Are Funky – demand is sporadic and had dropped almost to nothing in some sectors; sales are not being completed – committed orders are cancelled even at the last minute; even the government sector has made awards which do not receive funding: ker-ching>>No Sale! From the chair, there’s a growing ‘tentative sales’ category which is not recorded until the check clears. The demand and sales graph has almost flat-lined…a slight pulse can still be felt, but no rebound as in the past.
R & D Is NOT Robust – From the chair, research & development in process has slowed (funding is squeezed) and new projects are delayed or cancelled until the smoke clears on a view of future priorities in a diminished economy.
Planning Is Now Immediate Term – From the chair, real 3-year plans are non-existent in most organizations – same with meaningful 2-year plans; there is an annual budget plan, but in reality the working plan only goes out for about the next 6-months. Strategic plans are mothballed for now rather spending effort on updating with guesses about the economy.
But There Is Hope – Occupants of the Big Chair are rising to the challenge of a down & sluggish economy and have jolts of optimism as they see their markets show some signs of life. The consensus is the overheated go-go times are behind us and are history – recovery is happening BUT it will not bounce back to old levels and will grow slowly over time from the current minimalist position.
Collaboration and On-Demand Resources Are Now The By-Words – using someone else’s capacity when needed; contracting for workers with specific needed skills for the duration of a production run; working together with other complementary organizations -is the plan of the day. If sustained into the future, this is an interesting structural change in how we do business and opens up the opportunity wider for entrepreneurs and small firms to be an integral but independent part of the available resources for larger organizations (discussed in more detail in Getting Back To Normal).
The view from the big chair is that there IS movement in a positive direction in the economy – it is slow, but evident.
What’s the view from your chair? Any different?
Often if you need something “extra” there is no “extra” money around to pay for it. This is especially true of community-based non-profit organizations, and I have been hanging around with several of them these past few months.
One of the areas of need is setting up a website and using it to collect information or receive money. From my perspective, making a potential donor go to the trouble of writing a check and mailing it is asking a lot. Asking a potential volunteer to send you an e-mail message, especially when you need to know specific things, is also problematic. Being able to do this with an on line form is so much smarter.
Google Sites has developed an easy-to-use platform for website design. You can incorporate things such as forms (through Google Docs) and you can collect money (using Google Checkout). Except for the discount on Google Checkout, this is all absolutely free!
Here are links to three websites that I personally set up over the past several months:
http://sites.google.com/site/fnavolunteers/ was used to register and manage about 100 volunteers for the fabulous celebration on New Year’s Eve in Alexandria. They have a real nice public site (www.firstnightalexandria.org), but needed special information for their volunteers. So we just linked to this from their main site.
http://www.washingtonbirthday.net/ This is the first site I ever worked on and it is still evolving. But now, thanks to the Google Sites platform, others can make changes and add content. We manage the parade from this site and several other major events. It isn’t necessarily pretty, but it is very functional.
You, too, can do this stuff; and you don’t have to go through a big learning curve or take a lot of time either. You can set up what you think looks good, get feedback from colleagues and friends, make corrections, and make your site something special. The FNA Volunteers site took three or four hours, the others took longer because of the content. Now you don’t have to be a slave to an IT person or a web designer (and if you have the resources, once you get a site the way you like, you can turn it over to someone else to “pretty it up”). C’est ça!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Advertising is an attempt to boost the perceived value of a product? If successful the product raises its sales volume or price or both. It’s pretty easy to find the perceived value of a particular product. It is in its sales. If the object is to increase sales, then increase the perceived value one of three ways. The first is to reduce the price. By definition this raises the true value of the services/goods which should (note should)also raise the perceived value. Considerations here are profit margin, market share, overall profit etc. The second way is to raise the perceived quality of the product. This can be done through marketing and advertising. Possibly even by raising the cost. The third way is to actually make the service or product better and have the quality recognized. Truly making a better mousetrap usually (but not always) results in a change in the perceived quality. It works better when combined with getting the word out. Unfortunately for consumers the second method can create believers, without actually making a better product.
In the end market share can be controlled to the extent that perceived value is controlled. In a Win-win scenario what is offered is the best value. When that happens, various price points correspond to the needs of the customer, fulfilling a value proposition judged to be acceptable by the consumer.
This produces products of roughly equal value at various price points along a scale. For those needing fewer features or durability the price will be lower. For those with greater or more specific needs the cost will be higher, but in each case the value to the buyer will be roughly the same.
You can fool some of the people …
If the product isn’t selling well the perceived value needs to be boosted. In the long run it is likely best to raise the “real” value through added quality or targeted pricing (read changing the price), rather than just through marketing, which doesn't change the offering itself. There wouldn't have had to be a "new" GM if there hadn't been such a strong belief in being able to make people believe what they were told. We are now being treated to raised value in the cars made by the domestic manufacturers, or it could be called higher quality. With others offering more value they found they couldn't stay in business otherwise.
It seems so simple...
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Bill Van Dyke says this type of sales manager's life is in Covey's Third Quadrant, Urgent/Not Important.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Here's the handout:
How many events like this do you attend each year?
How about we each bring our own name tag?
If you were going to design you own name tag, what would you do?
What is the best thing you learned in the last five minutes?