Susan

Susan Masterson - Owner
Masterson & Associates,
Consultants Incorporated

Back Up Your Marketing Efforts with Data

October 15th, 2012

Measurement is essential to optimizing an organization’s marketing success. In the past, it was more difficult to gather relevant data that would help managers make the best strategic decisions about future marketing investments. With the exponential growth of online consumption including social media, good data has become more accessible and can provide tremendous value in decision-making. By measuring the behaviour of website visitors, you can analyze your offerings more effectively,  improving customer engagement and satisfaction in the process.

When you begin a new project, make sure that you ask your team if they have the data to support their proposed approach. If there is no up-front data to support the potential success of the project, then be sure that you and your team have agreed on a means of measuring success early in the implementation process. Good data and thorough analysis will help you to accurately assess the cost of reaching your audience. Armed with these metrics, you will be able to achieve the right balance of media tactics in your marketing efforts, based on expected ROI.

While data is essential to your own decision-making, building and maintaining strong relationships with other internal teams is key. Collaboration is a powerful tool. It ensures that the overall objectives of the company are met.

The Link Between Employee Engagement and Profit Margins

July 16th, 2012

Recently, Towers Watson released a comprehensive study on employee engagement. The study surveyed 32,000 workers, 1,000 of whom were Canadian. The results of the study are eye-opening, to say the least.

The most startling figure from the study finds that companies that scored high in employee engagement scored three times higher in profit margins. Did you read that correctly? Three times higher in profit margins! This figure can be explained by many of the other findings in the study, such as that 95 percent of highly engaged Canadian employees feel they have the necessary tools and resources to achieve exceptional work performance (compared to a mere 20 percent of disengaged Canadian employees), that 97 percent of highly engaged Canadian employees feel that they have the ability to sustain energy throughout the workday (compared to 32 percent of disengaged Canadian employees), and that 99 percent of highly engaged Canadian employees feel a sense of personal accomplishment through their work (compared to 33 percent of disengaged Canadian employees).

What this study suggests is that businesspeople should adjust their profit paradigms. Most businesspeople respond to downward shifts in the economy by making cuts, which generally requires fewer people to do more work for the same pay, leading to stress and frustration. But if this study’s findings offer any lessons, it’s that cuts likely lead to disengagement, which leads to lower corporate profits. If businesspeople instead focus on employee engagement, the cuts may not be necessary in the first place. Happy workers are productive workers, and productive workers make companies profitable, even in times of economic uncertainty. So, what are you waiting for? Focus on employee engagement and buy pants with bigger pockets to store the return on your efforts!

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Using Pinterest for Business

July 12th, 2012

The internet is a mecca for fads and crazes, often replacing one another before the first has a fair chance to catch hold. One “fad” with both vigor and staying power, however, is Pinterest. It is the third largest social media website, paling in popularity only to Facebook and Twitter. But the more impressive statistic is that Pinterest was the fastest site in history to reach the 10 million monthly unique visitor milestone. With such heavy web traffic and an ever-growing presence, businesses everywhere are searching for ways to tap into the site’s marketing potential.

So what exactly is Pinterest and how does it work? Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo sharing website, where users generate and manage theme-based, categorized image collections, typically reflecting the individual user’s personality and preferences. Users can upload their own images or they can “re-pin” other users’ pins, making individual pins accessible to a wider audience. At its most basic level, the site allows users to share creative content and ideas in a fun and interactive way.

Since its explosion in popularity, marketers everywhere have been searching for ways to capitalize on the site’s popularity. Various articles profess “tips” on how best to make use of the site’s considerable traffic. The most comprehensive resource available at the moment is a free ebook called How to Use Pinterest for Business. The book can be found at the following link: http://blog.hubspot.com/Portals/249/docs/ebooks/howtousepinterestforbusiness.pdf.

But if you don’t have the time to peruse the entire ebook, here’s a short list of helpful tips:

  • Plan your “brand” before you pin and avoid excessive self-promotion. Statistics show that the best way to maximize advertising potential on Pinterest is to make 5 to 10 percent of social media activity self-promotional. Make sure to plan and create the boards that will best represent the “who” of your company. For starters, study what your target market is pinning and tailor your own pins accordingly.
  • Follow users who pin content that would be of interest to your clients. By following them and re-pinning their content, you will begin to build your own community of followers.
  • Make your presence as interactive as possible. Comment and like other users’ content, connect your content to other social media websites, and say “thank you” to those who re-pin your original content.
  • Become the go-to source for information in your industry. If you provide users with valuable information on all aspects of the industry, you will become the trusted source in your own niche market as well.
  • When you do engage in self-promotion, make the promotion itself as interactive as possible.

Many savvy users host contests or offer promotions through pinning. For example, your business could host a contest that requires users to take pictures of themselves using your products in creative ways, offering a prize to the user who receives the greatest number of re-pins. Or, if you prefer to level the playing field for users with smaller followings, you could create an ad that offers users a percentage off of merchandise for re-pinning.

Happy pinning!

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Organize for Productivity

November 21st, 2011

Using a system to manage documents can help boost your business productivity. Here are three simple suggestions:

Dealing with Paper

Colour code your files – use a different colour folder to easily identify each of your main projects, and find what you need in an instant!

Use broad headings for your main folders. For example, label a hanging file folder with a heading such as 2011 Budget, and then file all related documents here.  To increase productivity, subdivide into individual file folders within the broad category, such as Performance Reviews, Salaries, Material Expenses, etc.

Records Retention

  1. Implement a records retention schedule, destroying anything that is no longer useful or is not required by law for operational, legal, or financial reasons. Base your records retention schedule on your own experience, in compliance with legal mandates and corporate policies.

Email Management

1. Move task-oriented email messages out of your inbox into a task folder, so that they are grouped in one place. Change the subject name, to easily identify the topic at a glance.

2. Estimate how much time the tasks will take, and then drop them into your calendar schedule.

3. Use follow-up flags as a reminder. Messages that have fallen through the cracks in your schedule will turn red when they are overdue, making them easy to see. Once you’ve completed a task, be sure to mark it “complete.”

4. Develop a colour scheme for flags. For example, designate a specific colour for high-priority projects. Even if your inbox is full, you’ll be able to spot the most important items.

Resolution or Business Goal?

January 3rd, 2011

If you’re like me, you have thought about setting some resolutions for the New Year, but are plagued with the realization that follow through is difficult. Each year, my husband and I resolve to lose weight, be more active and finish household projects. Our commitment begins to wane after a couple of months. It seems that we’re not alone. Research indicates that most people flounder by the end of January.

Perhaps what we all need to do is to “reframe” and treat our resolutions more like business goals. After all, Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So, the New Year offers a clean slate and a chance to do things differently. What do you plan to achieve this year?  We believe that if you “plan to achieve, you will get different results. In order to plan, you’ll want to set some SMART goals; specific, measurable, attainable, realistic with a time frame attached. By committing your plan to paper, you’ re well on your way to a different result, to achieving your goals!

Need some assistance in writing your plan? Call or email Masterson & Associates. We can help.

Logos – The First Visual Introduction to Your Brand

August 26th, 2010

Since a logo is the first visual that your clients and prospects see, have you thought about what your logo says to them? Here are some basic questions that should be asked when doing the research to prepare a new or revise an existing logo.

  1. Who is your target market?
  2. What products/services does your company provide?
  3. What does your competition do?
  4. Based on the above, how can you simply and effectively symbolize your brand?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you will want to keep the following lessons learned from others’ success in mind:

  1. Keep it simple! Every major global brand has a recognizable logo that bears a striking, yet simple graphic element.
  2. Make sure that it’s flexible. If your logo is simple and effective, it should transcend any media and reproduce well at any size. In other words, it will look equally good on a business card or a billboard, silk-screened or embroidered on a garment, wrapped around a vehicle and more.Consider creating your logo in black and white initially, as this allows you to concentrate on the concept rather than the colour.
  3. Font selection is also critical. If you use a tag line as part of your logo, you should test for legibility and memorability.

Team Effectiveness

August 23rd, 2010

What is the ideal team size?
If you’re finding it tough to accomplish much with a team project you’re working on, ask yourself if you have too many heads and hands involved in the task. According to psychologist Ivan Steiner, “each time you add a person to a team,
productivity goes up, but so do inefficiencies”. Tasks such as group coordination gets trickier. This has and continues to be the case. Back in 1970, two Harvard University professors asked large and small teams to perform several tasks. They asked them whether they felt their group was too small or too large for the task. From the feedback, they determined an  ideal team size of 4.6 persons. Although it may be difficult to have less than a whole person working on your team (just kidding), the bottom line is that for maximum efficiency, smaller is better. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, with larger teams you bring more skills as well as more inefficiencies. You might find that the larger group naturally divides itself into smaller cliques. The solution would  either be to keep the head count between 4 and 5 people or to subdivide the project into smaller working pieces and assign subgroups from the larger group according to their strengths.

July 15th, 2010

Write to Make Things Happen!

Writing is an important part of everyday life and in many cases, your writing needs to do more than just communicate information. It can help change a point of view, attitude or even motivate to act. Here are a few simple tips to help you get results from your writing.

1. Get the reader’s attention. Use a captivating lead sentence that demands continued reading. Consider promising the reader more if they continue. Use a conversational tone to attract and hold attention. Add personal touches.

2. Make it easy to read. Highlight key thoughts by underlining, italicizing or bolding certain key words or phrases. This helps readers that skim get the main point quickly. Think short – write short paragraphs and use short words whenever possible, like ‘use’ rather than ‘utilize’ or ‘help’ instead of ‘assistance’. People can read and understand these faster. Include a postscript. This gives you a chance to sum up your message for readers that skim.

3. Motivate. Help the reader see the benefits by stressing the rewards. Use commanding verbs to get the reader to act, such as ‘Find out how..’ or ‘Mark this date…’ Include a closing thought that readers ‘must’ agree with and that prevents them from saying no. For example, instead of saying “Don’t you think we should improve the paper recycling program?” say, ” Our company spends thousands of dollars on paper each year. A new recycling program would cut that cost in half.”

Business Productivity with the iPad?

May 10th, 2010

The official Canadian launch of the Apple iPad is just around the corner. As with most of Apple’s products, a number of great entertainment-type apps will be available. But what about business productivity?

Well, the Apple iPad seems to be exceeding the expectations of even skeptical tech media. While it may not replace the laptop anytime soon, it appears to be more than capable of handling the majority of tasks as well as one.

So, if you’re thinking of leveraging the iPad as a mobile business platform, consider the following applications as part of your business arsenal:

(1) Webex
This Cisco app lets you attend meetings anytime and anywhere using your iPad. It’s free and you don’t need to have a Webex account to attend a meeting. If you want to host or schedule a meeting however, you will need a Webex account. The Webex app for the iPad uses the sizeable iPad screen to view documents, applications, or remote desktops. As an added bonus, It includes simultaneous two-way audio, so you can actually join in the conversation.

(2) Instapaper Pro
This is a universal app, that you pay for once and can work with it across the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Instapaper Pro allows you to cache Web pages to your iPad for future reference. If you are reading an article or blog post online, you can save it with Instapaper Pro and carry it along in your iPad to read later while you are commuting, or standing in line somewhere.

(3) Memeo Connect Reader
This app lets business professionals take their Google Docs with them on the iPad, even when the iPad is offline. Memeo Connect Reader can view a wide variety of file formats natively, including Microsoft Office formats. It syncs automatically with Google Docs to ensure you always have the most current data on your iPad.

(4) iWork for iPad
iWork apps parallel Microsoft Office tools. Pages does word processing like Word, Numbers works with spreadsheets like Excel, and Keynote does slide presentations like PowerPoint. With iWork for iPad, you can import files from iWork ’09, as well as from Microsoft Office. This allows business professionals who want to use an iPad for mobile business productivity the means to review, edit or present important files and documents while on the road.

While the iPad will likely prove to be a more than an adequate laptop replacement, IT administrators and business professionals will want to consider the platform’s security limitations.

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Rainy Day Ramblings

March 12th, 2010

Social media is becoming a mainstream marketing method. The reasons vary, but larger corporations are jumping on this bandwagon because of declining consumer trust. With the rise of social media and its ‘word of mouth attributes’, corporations can more easily build trust as their message is being amplified by the consumers themselves. These companies are reaching out to those who are listening through their executive team or an in-house social media expert/team; letting them talk for the organization and connect with like-minded people. There are many ways that social media can work for any size of business and the opportunities are truly endless. For example, this medium allows organizations to run contests, which lends itself to creating exciting and original content through ‘crowd sourcing’. Ford did this brilliantly with their Ford Fiesta contest, where people could win a chance to drive a new Fiesta for 6 months. To see the results of this contest, visit the Ford Fiesta Movement website at http://chapter1.fiestamovement.com/.