Management Mondays

Technology is growing and advancing at a rapid rate. Things that we never thought would exist are now part of our daily lives. From the invention of the home computer, the smart phone, and now the rise of AI machines, technology is evolving exponentially. One of the areas of tech that is growing the fastest is mobile technology. Over 80% of Americans own a smartphone as of February 2019 and the world of technology has improved with the growth in the number of users. Companies large and small are catering to the mobile platform with new developments. The customer experience is being vastly improved to be quick, easy, and painless. This is adding to the already existing convenience mobile technology offers. As the platform of choice shifts towards mobile in a big way, new trends will emerge. Over the next two years, the mobile industry will roll out many new improvements. Here are a few that we expect to see by 2020.

More Proactive Apps

Artificial intelligence might sound like a far-fetched idea, but the technology is already in use throughout mobile apps. AI is helping customers get what they want within a matter of seconds, all thanks to intelligent machines. From the minute most apps are opened, an AI is working to make the customer experience as smooth as possible. A good example of AI in action is when you are sent a message on an app like LinkedIn. Once the message comes through, the user is offered a number of ways to click and read the message. When the user goes to type a reply, an AI suggests things to write based on the context of the first message. These suggested sentences are designed so the user could conceivably click an auto generated response without needing to type anything. These generated responses are normally well written and related to the initial message; this is entirely possible due to AI. This proactive feature only adds to the amount of assistance we receive from apps everyday. More productive AI assisted apps will run faster, smoother, and offer more features than ever before. Your phone is getting to know you better and will use that to make your experience better.

Mobile First Indexing

mobile first indexing For a while now Google has been working on mobile first indexing to make websites more mobile friendly. Since much of the market has shifted away from home desktops and towards mobile phones, Google is taking steps to ensure mobile friendly websites rank higher in its eyes. Google will monitor websites and determine how they rank based on Google’s criteria, which is now prioritizing mobile friendly websites. This means features like easy to use buttons, quick loading, proper formatting for ease of use on mobile, and other aspects will result in websites ranking higher. In order to boost your website’s ranking on mobile, you will need to have a quality mobile site that is different than your desktop site.  

Personalized Mobile Experiences

ROI is an acronym business loves to talk about. It’s one of the most important figures you have to take into account. Marketers often focus on superficial and short-term aspects of investments instead of something as crucial as ROI. People often talk about ROI in the context of fortune 500 companies, but that’s starting to change. With the knowledge of investment opportunities spreading, every business must know how to calculate and use their marketing ROI for successful ventures.

1.    What is marketing ROI?

ROI, or Return On Investment, is exactly what it sounds like. It's the amount of money you receive from a certain investment or venture. Different ventures have different ways of calculating ROI. Real estate has a pretty simple way to calculate how much ROI you get. Take the amount of money you spent on a property, add the amount of money you invested into it to increase its value. Once you sell the home, take out these two values from the profit of selling it and you have the return on investment for the whole process. Basically, you add up the total amount of initial investment and subtract it from the total profit. "Online marketing works much the same way. The knowledge commerce business generates a certain amount of money, but it also costs a specific amount to actually market a product. It's simple math when you get down to it. When it comes to your bottom line, disregard everything else, because this is the only thing that matters.  If there is no return on your investment or the investment profit isn’t high enough to justify making any move, you might not opt for the investment at all."

2.    Getting to know marketing ROI in depth

You manage a remote team and heard about how Agile increased productivity in the software industry. You've seen the fruits an Agile approach and are wondering how to make the magic happen with a remote team. Is it even possible? You bet it is! At DistantJob, we use it in all our teams, from recruiting to marketing. Agile enables our lean teams to tackle massive undertakings quickly. Not convinced? We've put together a free ebook with a primer to Agile as a remote solution and several case studies. It's a fast read, so grab it if you're not familiar with Agile in general. Our remote teams do Agile using a “Scrumban” method. "Scrumban" means that we take a bit from two popular Agile frameworks, “Scrum” and “Kanban.” Whoa, weird names already? Don't worry -  we're going to keep this light on theory and heavy on practical stuff.

It all starts with the daily standup

A daily meeting with all hands on deck - that's the heartbeat of our Agile process. Sounds weird for a remote company, right? After all, any of our teams might have people spread across five different time zones! But there is no denying the benefits of everyone knowing what everyone else is up to on any given day. The stand-up helps the team bond across a shared purpose.  This meeting helps everyone understand that they're not working in solitude. They're not waiting for, or handing off, work to faceless entities on the other side of the computer. The daily standup also helps people understand how their work impacts the rest of the team. Our daily stand-ups follow a simple formula. Each person tells the team:

“The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage.” -- Dale Carnegie Socially responsible companies are gaining currency in the business world. Civic-mindedness and ethical concerns have always played an important role in...

stop wordsmithingFor lack of a better word, marketing and communications work is squishy. It can be hard to know if you're creating a strong deliverable. For most business owners, messaging can be the worst. Who hasn't sat in on an agonizing meeting waiting for the president and the operations guy to stop arguing over whether or not something is going to "move the needle."  Or worse, the horrible and annoying quarrels over the oxford/serial comma. In my short-lived career as a restaurant manager 100 years ago, we used to go to wine tastings all the time. It was really fun, especially if you liked to drink as much as I did back then. But unfortunately, none of us really knew anything about wine. So we came up with this phrase that meant nothing but sounded really impressive. "It's oblique, without being obtrusive" I would state, twirling my wine in the glass while lifting my best impersonation of an educated eyebrow. It sounded really good and most people usually got home or sobered up before they realized it meant absolutely nothing. What most business people are doing when writing anything, from a mission statement to a tweet, is coming up with stuff that just sounds good. We're coming up with our own versions of "oblique without being obtrusive."  I say let's stop this now.We need to focus on sending the right message, NOT using the right words. Here are five ways to help  create the best messaging ever for your company, product or brand: 1. Create a Core or Integrated Strategy Statement. This is the statement that covers what you do, why you do it, and how you do it, in a nutshell. It doesn't have to be pretty and it doesn't have to sound particularly good. It just has to resonate with the key players in your organization. It has to be the one where people say "yeah that's us" unequivocally. This is not the same as a company strategy statement. This is a simple 2-3 sentence phrase from which all messaging can be derived. These are the statements behind all the taglines, tweets, web content. Once you've got this, the conversation then revolves around whether subsequent messaging is aligned, or reflects, that core statement. NOT whether it's better to use the word "strengthen" or "empower." (Seriously, that was a 2-hour conversation.) Mine is this:  "Wax Marketing does integrated marketing and communications services." 2. Understand the audience you're trying to reach. I'm a firm believer in creating personas and writing messages for those personas. Stop writing stuff with you as the audience. If you know who your primary targets are - the media, your customers, your influencers, your employees, for example - you'll understand when someone translates those messages for that particular audience. Chances are your employees absorb information in quite a different context than your customers. Be cognizant of those differences. 3. Be aware of requirements for the messaging channels you need to use.  I have a client that is a group of super cool dermatologists. What I love about them is they really know their patients, even though they range in age from 2 to 90. They know that each patient is going to acquire information in a different way. And they understand that information in a medical journal needs to be presented differently on Facebook, for example. Our conversations revolve around where those patients get their information. The disagreements happen there, and they're productive. My point is, once you know your audience, you know the channels. Again, just make sure that messages translated for those channels align with your core strategy statement. 4. Understand that what sells well, doesn't necessarily read well. 

[caption id="attachment_6692" align="alignright" width="225"]@bartthedog as Trump @bartthedog[/caption] Years ago, I "carried a bag" in the technology industry. There were very few women in the industry - I think three of us sold those kind of services in Minneapolis at the time. Every time I see or hear Donald Trump I'm reminded of the bombastic salesmen against whom I competed in the late '80's and early 1990's. In fact, these were the ones who called me honey  and patted me on the head right up until I stole their business. Then they just got mad - which made me very happy. Let me explain this persona of this "sales guy" I know so well. They weren't (and aren't, for that matter) bad guys, they actually had good intentions and many were loving husbands and fathers. They have one major common characteristic that brings them down every time however - they don't believe in messaging. Don't confuse this with the Don Draper persona. Although Draper could shoot from the hip, he planned his creative and messaging carefully. Although like Draper, the Donald Trumps of the world are also highly skilled in the art of persuasion, they don't believe in the power of the carefully crafted message. Nope, not for them. Send them your talking points and they'll make up their own every time. Like Donald Trump many of these sales guys eventually become entrepreneurs. As a marketing consultant, I'm working with them instead of selling against them. Unfortunately many have retained their old habits of shooting from the hip and ignoring attempts at messaging.

There's new fear among business owners based on the recent hubbub at Reddit after the firing of Victoria Taylor and the subsequent "exit" of CEO Ellen Pao. Although most companies don't have 36 million users or even thousands of employees, many are afraid that the kind of discontent voiced so passionately by Reddit users could happen to them as well.  What if this discontent experienced a tipping point and caught fire in a LinkedIn group, for example, or someone's private Facebook page? Could customers or employees become so incensed that the situation goes viral for them as well? ? I'm sensing a kind of panic right now. The kneejerk reaction seems to be a lock down of online policies, and  micromanagement of organic engagement on social media.  The justification for this behavior is that without the internet, this wouldn't happen, right? WRONG. The internet doesn't cause problems, it brings them to light. What happened at Reddit is a communication problem, and as far as I'm concerned it's lucky that the internet brought it to their attention. When I was a manager in the 1990's, it could be impossible to know what was being said over lunch, or on the phone, or at happy hour. Sometimes we didn't know there was a problem until a costly trend in turnover brought it to our attention, and that could take months. I covered a territory with nine profit centers in six states, plus a corporate headquarters 1,000 miles away. I tried as hard as I could to meet with employees and customers as much as possible, trying to ferret out possible issues before they caused real damage to the bottom line.  Occasionally someone would come and talk to me about an issue, but it had to get pretty bad for someone to email me, or worse, pick up the phone. Problems didn't boil over quickly, they percolated behind the scenes causing much more damage. Arka Ray is the CEO of Sidelines, a company that develops engaged native ad experiences.  His recent commentary about Reddit and community management is so relevant when he says

mom owned businessMove over Al Capone, there's a new MOB in town. Mom-owned businesses (MOBs) are reaching new heights with innovative products designed to improve family life. Because moms are constantly seeking new ways to create better lives for their children, success is in large part due to their little muses. And, thanks to a mother's inherent nurturing abilities, identifying gaps in the market is purely mother's intuition. Need a little inspiration to kick-start your entrepreneurial endeavors? These three stories are sure to bring out the MOB mentality in you.

SwaddleDesigns

Our first mom-owned business: Lynette Damir, RN, CEO and Creative Director of SwaddleDesigns, launched a swaddling renaissance back in 2002. During home visits, Damir noticed a pattern among new parents. It seemed the practice of swaddling had become a long-lost art, and first-time parents were sleep deprived and exhausted because their baby was not swaddled and no one was getting much sleep. On her site, Damir describes how parents consistently asked her to share the secret of the hospital nurses: how to swaddle. Combining her passion for helping others with her medical background and design education, Damir developed the Ultimate Swaddle Blanket. Today, this mom-CEO has the SwaddleDesigns brand in Target stores nationwide. Because the brand only uses the highest quality materials to make its swaddling blankets, SwaddleDesigns has become a highly respectable brand across the industry.

PackIt Personal Cooler