Tag Archives: business

What Would … A Great Vendor be Like?

What Would... [for the purpose of this blog, I will provide my perspective of a vendor selling into Magnolia]

Vendor: “a person or company offering something for sale[i]”. I work with many vendors at Magnolia. From ones that prospect for our business to great partners that help us serve our clients. What makes a long term partner for me is someone who takes the time not only to understand our business but our clients as well. It’s easy to take your services and apply the same paint brush across the board. But it’s the vendors who have us top of mind and put in the effort to figure out both our needs and the needs of our clients who will likely have longer term success with us.

1. Take the time to understand the business.

Do the research and be smart about what we do, our niche and how we support our clients. In doing so, you can recommend your specialties to best service our needs and in turn better serve our clients too. For example, when we work with our PR vendors, it’s vital that we provide them with a detailed briefing on our clients and how their services can best help them. If our clients have specific verticals they target, then it’s incumbent on the PR vendor to cater specific programs tailored to this need.

2. Be ahead of the game.

No one knows your business better than you. Be proactive in coming to us with latest trends or tools that we can use. It’s refreshing when we get industry insights that only our vendors would know. For our tradeshow vendors, it’s always a pleasure to get the latest in tradeshow exhibits, such as materials, cost reduction ideas and tips on getting crates delivered in and out of the venue in the most efficient manner.

3. Make it easy to do business with you.

I believe this is a central theme that should run through all aspects of one’s business. From credit application to invoicing to being responsive to queries, make it easy to work with you. Put in place policies and procedures that clearly state who the main point of contact is and, if that person is away, who will take over their responsibilities. If deemed appropriate, build web portals to give your clients customized and 24/7 access to essential information.

[i] Oxford Dictionaries

Tagged , , ,

Face-to-Face Business: More Effective or Unnecessary?

facetoface

– By Nicole Freeston

This debate never gets old. In terms of building relationships with family, friends and new acquaintances, we continue to receive flak for maintaining these relationships virtually via technology, opting to text, snap chat, or skype instead of meeting physically. As part of Generation Y, I see this in myself, my peers, and those younger than me. You can miss out on genuine interactions through digital connections, but can we say the same for business?

Even with advancements in technology, it’s still common for sales reps especially to spend days or more travelling, simply for short one hour meetings, as well as in-person seminars, shows, or presentations. However, with the ongoing trends of international business including clients within different locations and time zones, we are seeing an increase in webinars, virtual trade shows and conference calls. Products such as GoToMeeting, Google Hangout and On24 allow companies from all over the world to participate in webinars and virtual tradeshows while also enabling meetings between business partners who are geographically separated.

These mediums can prove useful and reliable especially when that is the only form of communication available when face-to-face interactions are not possible. However, even if in-person meetings are an option, we are seeing many companies leaning towards the virtual option anyway. Perhaps it saves time and money and goes along with where the industry is going. It would be interesting to see the results when comparing face-to-face interactions in the business world against virtual ones. Would the results really differ that much? Should we still value face-to-face meetings and the more genuine connections that can come from them?

I’m a sucker for the good ol’ face-to-face thing. Though I appreciate a good webinar or something visual, I think it’s important to place value on traditional interactions with clients, business partners, and potential customers. Even in a job interview, Skype interviews are pretty common but I’m assuming an employer is more likely to hire someone who they met with in person rather than via telephone or video chat. Time Management Ninja agrees with me, saying that distance should not be an excuse for not meeting face-to-face, and that even video chat is much better than a phone call.

Here are 5 reasons that Time Management Ninja offers in defence of face-to-face meetings

  1. Body Langauge is Communication – We tend to forget that body langauge plays a major part in our communication. It is not just how you said something, but also your facial expressions and body posture. This is lost in a phone conversation.

  2. Ensures Engagement – Who knows what people are doing while on conference calls. (You might not want to know.) However, face-to-face leads to engagement. It ensure that people are “in the conversation.” I was on a video call with an executive one day, when I suddenly stopped the call. The VP had leaned over and was having a separate conversation with his assistant. When he turned around, he apologized, “Oh, I guess you could see that.”

  3. Clarifies Meaning – Conference calls can lead to misunderstandings either due to lack of communication (See #1) or simply because the medium is not conducive to individuals asking for better meaning. It’s much harder to raise your hand on a call than it is in person.

  4. Drives Participation –  When you are all in the same room, it encourages people to participate. You can’t just go sit in the corner and turn your back to the meeting. Yet, this is exactly what many people do on conference calls.

  5. More Efficient –  Face-to-face meetings tend to be shorter than conference calls. On the phone, everyone sits around on mute waiting for the discussion to end. Yes, this can happen in a meeting room. However, in face-to-face situations there is a greater pressure to get to the point.

Whatever your preference, the presence of face-to-face meetings may decrease more, but maybe there is a time and a place for both online and offline interactions, depending on what will produce the best results.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get web content that actually achieves your business objectives (Hey, now THERE’S something new!)

– By Louise Raffa

So what has your website done for you lately anyway?

If the answer is not much, you’re not alone. So many companies, both large and small, have websites that simply don’t give them the results they’re looking for.

Your website speaks volumes about your organization. At its core, it is a public conversation between your company’s people and your customers, both present and future.

So what’s behind a great website?

Well, first is design. It’s pretty obvious that you need an eye-catching website. First impressions count, and good graphic design can give a great first impression so people stay on your website.

But design alone isn’t enough. How many gorgeous websites have you visited once and then forgotten about? Right. I can’t remember either.

Second is usability. What exactly is that? Well, according to Steve Krug, the industry’s widely accepted Usability Guru (who wouldn’t love to have that title on their business card?) it means making sure that people can interact well with your website; pretty straightforward, right?

But the third and most important is content. In 1996, Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king”. Since then people have repeated it, hashed it around and tried to pin down its relevance in the digital age.

One of the basic things that businesses need to know about content on its website is this. It’s not about you. It’s really not. It’s about your customers and potential customers.

The old style of web content (but one that we still see a lot of!) used a broadcast model, which treated the company brand as a battleship blasting its message at targets (the customers).

In Rethinking Marketing, Harvard Business Review talks about a complete reinvention of marketing towards an interactive, relationship approach:

“To compete in this aggressively interactive environment, companies must shift their focus from driving transactions to maximizing customer lifetime value.  That means making products and brands subservient to long-term customer relationships.”

(in other words, business IS personal.  It’s about the people. But then you probably knew that already.)

So how can you improve your web content?

Give the people what they want.  Content is the stuff – text, data, graphics, video and audio – that people want on the web.  Content is something people turn to as they decide what to buy, who to hire, and an unbelievable amount of other life and business decisions. You’d better know what they’re looking for. How? Put yourself in their shoes. It’s not really what you want to say to them, it’s figuring out what they’ll want to know, or need to know.

Remember that you’re having a conversation. Websites are about engaging people. Instead of thinking that you’re targeting people, think about attracting people. Would you go to a cocktail party and talk about yourself in a nonstop, rapid-fire way…and in the third person?  Your website shouldn’t either.

Serve it up the way they like it. Busy people want information at their fingertips, without having to scroll through paragraphs and pages. Break up information into pieces so that people can grab and go. Clean, concise, no nonsense.

Make your web content part of your overall content strategy. What’s content strategy? Glad you asked. Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy For the Web says that “content strategy guides your plans to create and deliver useful, usable content for your online audiences, when and where they need it most.” And yes, there IS a lot more to this than meets the eye.

Revise, update, and revise some more. Relationships take work. And they evolve over time, so why would one of your main communication tools be any different?  Learn to listen. Evaluate results. Breathe fresh air into your web content on a regular basis. Then drink in the benefits of success.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: