Across the globe, digital initiatives are enabling new forms of doing business at lightning speed, anytime and anywhere.
Digital business offers profound new opportunities for personalised, contextual customer interactions. This sort of transformation is not just a technology shift; it requires entirely new thinking about how you do business.
• 90% of large enterprises have digital business initiatives underway
• CEOs expect digital to contribute approximately 40% of their revenue by 2019
• 44% of CEO’s believe their current business models will be completely disrupted within the next 2 years
• 73% of business and IT executives surveyed said the biggest challenge to their digital transformation efforts is execution
It’s well acknowledged that executing a digital transformation can be complex, expensive, involve a significant exposure to risk and can often fail. A key reason for failure is that the blueprints for how the business runs, are generally fragmented, imprecise and ambiguous. Where it exists, business documentation from previous projects is mostly inconsistent, out-of- date and rarely reusable.
Where does your business model live today?
Most businesses do not have a tangible business model that explains how they operate. The only detailed explanation for how everything works, is typically buried inaccessibly in aging enterprise systems. All technology platforms inevitably succumb to the tyranny of legacy, becoming inhibitors rather than enablers of business agility.
Capsifi business models – precisely explain the semantics of what you do from strategy through to execution
Capsifi provides an intelligent, cloud-based platform that generates semantic models explaining precisely what a business does from your business strategies all the way through to execution. This integrated knowledge-base aligns information, people, processes and business logic to provide a single, consistent, expression of the business operation. Like the language we speak, a Capsifi model establishes the vocabulary and grammar of the business; defining business concepts and articulating business capabilities. The result is a dynamic and integrated view of your enterprise that not only accurately explains the “as- is” situation of today but also where you are planning “to-be”.
Capsifi has been described as “CAD/CAM for business”. Just as an engineer would develop detailed digital models that precisely explain the designs for a building before it is constructed, Capsifi helps business architects design precise models of a business before it is automated.
Capsifi business models a core strategic asset that insulates you from ongoing technology disruption
A Capsifi business model is a core strategic asset that encapsulates the business model and protects that knowledge to support ongoing adaptation to change.
Technology is not an enduring asset; your true strategic asset is the business model. An intelligent business model allows you to rapidly assimilate and embrace innovation, insulating your business from disruption and minimizing the impact of ongoing technology advances.
This allows you to focus on your core business; the things that you do, not the technologies you need to do them.
With the pace of technology innovation, it’s not about transforming the business, but building the capacity to continuously transform. The value of a Capsifi intelligent business model endures way beyond the life of a single program into a dynamically evolving explanation of how the business operates.
Capsifi future-proofs your business with an enduring, incrementally evolving knowledge-base that helps you adapt and keep pace with the constant pace of technology innovation.
Capsifi business models – accelerate business transformation
Capsifi completely inverts existing paradigms for developing technology solutions – placing business first.
As an integrated explanation of the future state operating model in a dynamic consolidated platform, a Capsifi business model is the single source-of- truth guiding and de-risking the transformation journey with integrated knowledge that is entered in one place, once, consistently explaining all aspects of the program.
Returns on investment accrue exponentially with each subsequent piece of knowledge captured. Each new project reuses and builds incrementally on previous projects without ambiguity. All changes to the model are dynamic and instantly ripple throughout the platform.
Capsifi business models helps customers to:
• Dynamically explain how everything works – never analyze the same thing twice!
• Reduce waste, eliminate duplication, maximize reuse of business knowledge
• Gain insights into business bottlenecks and inefficiencies
• Eliminate layers of development effort.
• Rapidly transition legacy business transactions onto digital platforms
• Dramatically reduce the cost of technology deployments
With Capsifi everything is consistent, everything is connected, everything is aligned.
Successful businesses know the importance of investing in their employee value proposition (EVP). Many have comprehensive performance metrics and KPIs to measure and report on multiple aspects of their EVP including benchmarks for salary and incentives, training and development and employee engagement and satisfaction. According to Andrew Daly, Group Executive Customer Development for Maxxia, your benefits program could be the element that’s holding you back from creating that perfect package to attract and retain talent.
Why do employee benefits still matter when businesses have so many ways to make staff feel valued?
It’s no secret that human capital is the most critical asset for any organisation. Brands compete on their customer service, innovation and R&D talent. At the same time recruiting staff is time consuming and expensive. So once you’ve found the right talent, retaining that talent is a good investment.
To stay competitive organisations are making a big commitment to getting the right staff on board and keeping them – from defining and developing workplace culture to career progression and training. Employee benefits are just one of many elements that can make or break that sense of value and engagement we want staff to experience through their work.
Some of these benefits – such as the superannuation guarantee – are mandatory, a box to be checked as part of the on-boarding process. Others, like health insurance, might be discretionary but are often treated in much the same way. Perhaps that’s why all benefits tend to be seen as standard perks an employer is expected to offer rather than something that can deliver substantial value to both employees and the business.
So while “employee benefits program” might be the words that make new staff glaze over during the induction process, they can actually be very effective in securing engagement from the outset. By providing access to salary packaging benefits that enable savings on a range of goods and services like owning a new car, or the cost of living in a remote area for work, staff can feel as if they’ve enjoyed an unexpected windfall. And if they’re thinking about leaving in the future, reliance on a range of salary packaging benefits for cost-effective, tax efficient extras and essentials can be an important reason for staying put.
What can a best-in-class benefits package contribute to the employee experience?
There are two main areas where employees can reap the rewards of a really strong benefits package. They give back to staff in terms of both time and money saved and that’s why they can make such a big difference to quality of life when you deliver these benefits to a much higher standard.
With novated leasing of vehicles for example, the immediate dollar value comes from savings in tax which can be more or less substantial depending on the marginal tax rate of the employee. But there’s also a whole raft of further savings that come from competitive pricing on purchase and insurance and genuine value from a trusted network of service and maintenance providers. So the financial savings are there from the outset and for the life of the vehicle.
The less tangible, measurable value is in the convenience, both immediate and ongoing of having every aspect of managing your vehicle taken care of by a third party. When one company were making the call on whether to withdraw novated leasing from their benefits package, we surveyed employees on what they valued most about the offering. What we found was how much importance they placed on not having to be concerned with the hassle of securing a vehicle, organising service and maintenance and registration renewal. Most of all, they don’t need to have the headspace or discipline to budget for these large occasional expenses because they’re all included in a regular pre-tax payment.
Car ownership is likely to be in the top three household expenses for many employees. If they also own a home, paying off the mortgage takes perhaps the greatest chunk of anyone’s wages. For one of our clients with staff spread out across remote areas, we investigated the potential savings for salary packaging home loan payments. The average tax relief per staff member was expected to put $4,000 each year back in their pocket. When you present anyone with that kind of incentive, it gives them a sense that their employer is really looking after them by making something as fundamental as housing more affordable.
When it comes to measuring performance, why are employee benefits packages so often overlooked?
When talent is scarce, it’s very important to keep tabs on how likely your people are to stay in their jobs. Investing a substantial share of HR time and resources in monitoring the full gamut of employee engagement metrics has become the norm for businesses in the 21st century. Reporting on performance against KPIs and benchmarks for job satisfaction, career progression and alignment with organisational values is considered a vital early-warning system for potential problems with productivity and staff retention.
As a provider of employee benefits, we’re constantly finding that the same standards of scrutiny just don’t apply to this segment of the whole employee value proposition. The general measure of satisfaction with an existing employee benefits program is that no complaints are received and therefore it’s achieving a desirable level of performance!
Unfortunately, this lack of negative feedback usually signals a widespread lack of engagement with and take-up of employee benefits. Given their significant potential to provide value to employees and drive their engagement, the absence of employee benefits from the metrics dashboard is something that’s important to address.
This is why we offer industry specific benchmarks an employee benefits program should expect to achieve. We find this to be a critical part of reaching an absolute verdict on how a program performs, both in terms of actual savings to each individual employee, but also as a measure of overall value to the business. When our benefits assessment process shines a light on the comparative value a company is realising from their own offering, it really changes the whole conversation about how satisfied they are with what they’re delivering.
What should a business be looking for in an employee benefits package?
Achieving or exceeding that benchmark can be a major challenge in a number of ways. Part of the formula that drives participation in benefits programs is offering a broad range of perks that suit the demographic composition and lifestyle of employees. Setting up multiple benefits has often been taken on by HR, who might engage a whole range of sub-contractors, from the gym around the corner to the fleet management company. When there are problems, with staff complaints about car service arrangements for example, or reconciling benefits and liabilities when a member of staff leaves, no one wants to accept the responsibility or financial fallout.
Outsourcing salary packaging transactions and their associated risks to a single expert provider is just one of the ways a business can counter the internal perception of program delivery as being more trouble than it’s worth. When payroll no longer see salary packaging as a task that stretches the capability of their current technology, then at least one of the barriers to scaling up delivery of your employee benefits program is taken care of.
Another significant advantage of getting the experts involved is securing the capacity and commitment it takes to get staff educated and motivated about what’s in it for them. By segmenting communication to different groups of staff according to their age and lifestyle needs, an internal campaign can use a whole range of channels – emails, posters, face-to-face and online – to increase awareness and participation. With this type of internal marketing approach, companies can soon reach the point where reaping the benefits of salary packaging is the rule rather than the exception, and the savings for staff are something worth broadcasting.
High standards and a consistent, professional level of interaction with employees builds the foundation for delivering intangible value that can be the difference between success and failure in the employee engagement stakes. Staff will feel both cashed up and cared for if they’re given multiple opportunities to interact positively with their benefit provider – from reports and updates on what they’ve saved to reassuring reminders that all ongoing responsibilities for their vehicle, home or chosen service are well in hand. It’s by providing peace of mind in an uncertain world that businesses can be seen as caring for employers in a way that has real meaning for them.
Let’s not forget that peace of mind for all company stakeholders relies on a stable financial position. A Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) shortfall, adding up to as much as $600k for large corporates, can become a big problem when not accounted for in financial forecasts. By monitoring FBT liability that can arise from employee benefits, a premium provider can ensure there are no unpleasant surprises for balance sheets and profit & loss outcomes.
Queensland-based property developer Oxmar Properties is committed to developing land into attractive and well-planned residential estates, with allotments for family living available at reasonable prices. The company boasts nearly three decades of experience as a property developer, striving to find Queensland landscapes that will offer dream lifestyles.
Company Director, Phil Murphy, is the driving force behind the business, and spoke to The Australian Business Executive about what the company means to him.
“I was a jockey as a kid going through school,” Mr Murphy says, “[in order] to get enough money to do law at university. I actually rode 100 winners before I turned 17, most of them in the bush. I had my first ride in a race when I was 13.” After suffering an accident in a track gallop, Mr Murphy damaged his spine and was in a plaster cast for five months. Because of this, he only passed three subjects during his senior, and never got the chance to do law. This meant he had to work even harder to earn a living. “At 21 I had five jobs. I was at BCC, Brisbane City Council, as a clerk. I was working selling furniture on a Saturday morning, I was riding horses trackwork. I was training two race horses [and] I was pouring beer at the Hamilton pub four nights a week.” Mr. Murphy’s strong work ethic hasn’t diminished over time, and there is little doubt he is fiercely dedicated to his job. This is made all the more impressive by his admission that at a very young age he experienced significant financial troubles.
“Years and years ago I started bookmaking as well, and then I started punting. I went through a quarter of a million dollars in six months in 1977, and I had to declare myself bankrupt. I came out of bankruptcy and had to plead to get a job as a car salesman.”
As a condition of getting this job, Mr Murphy promised that he would work for free for a month, in the hope of beating the sales record of 20 cars. He achieved this by working every night and every weekend for a month, and as a result was given the job full time. Mr. Murphy insists that only this kind of hard work can produce success, and that nothing in life just falls into your lap. He went on to spend several years working in auto sales, before deciding it was time to change direction.
“I had a Toyota/Mercedes Benz dealership in Bundaberg, sold it and came back to Brisbane. My brothers had been developing land and I thought that was a good way to go. I wasn’t certain what I was going to do, so I thought I’d have a crack at developing land.”
Over the following years, Mr Murphy single-handedly contacted more than 2,000 land owners within 15km of the Brisbane GPO, sending letters, knocking on doors and making phone calls in order to pursue his new venture.
“I finished up acquiring a site at Cashmere, which was my first big development. It was 115 acreage lots, half with town water. I also acquired a site at Wellington Point, which was less than 30 lots. Most of them had views of Stradbroke Island and were close to the ocean.”
In following this new career path, Mr Murphy attended an auction one day where he ran into an old friend, Peter Bettson. Mr Murphy had purchased vehicles previously from Mr Bettson’s firm, Brisbane Motor Auctions.
“I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years,” he says. “As a business relationship, it was a friendly relationship. We got talking over the next few months, and eventually he said: ‘can you show me some of the stuff you’re doing?’”
Over the coming months, the two men drove around viewing properties that Mr Murphy had been working on, having already had meetings with surveyors, engineers, councils and consultants, getting a feel for whether the properties would be suitable for development.
“The shotgun approach that I had in contacting so many people led me to some properties that had various impediments that could not be overcome through an approval process, such as lots of trees and wrong zonings.”
As time went by, Mr Murphy identified the properties that he felt had value, weeding out those with too many issues. By taking these properties to consultants and speaking with councils, he was learning the ropes of his new career.
“Peter Bettson spent lots of time driving around with me. In a matter of months, we became close friends. He sold Brisbane Motor Auctions and we realised that each of us could stand on our own two feet. One day he said to me, out of the blue: ‘do you want a partner?’”
Mr Murphy accepted straight away, and the partnership was sealed with a handshake. After some discussion, the company name was decided upon, a combination of the two streets the men lived on: Oxlade Drive and Marlene Street. Oxmar Properties was born.
“In that time we had built up about ten projects together, that we’d bought in two names. We never had a partnership agreement signed, we never had a joint venture agreement signed. We never had anything at all that represented any legal obligations.”
When Mr Bettson took the decision to leave the company for personal reasons, the two men agreed upon an amicable split of their assets and went their separate ways. Mr Murphy tells of how they have remained the very best and dearest of friends, catching up weekly.
“Since that time,” Mr Murphy says, “Oxmar has grown bigger and bigger. So much so that I’ve probably got more than 25 land projects, some with townhouses, ready for sale now, and currently at the moment we’ve got eight projects live, selling land.”
Mr Murphy is perfectly aware of the benefits people experience by locating to Queensland, particularly South East Queensland. He is a genuine advocate of the area, describing it as offering a wonderful lifestyle and true value to its inhabitants.
“There’s a buzz in Queensland that won’t die,” he says. “The culture is a spirit that the State of Origin [rugby league] team shows year in, year out. That’s the lifestyle of Queensland through and through. Determination and persistence to achieve and get positive results.”
Mr Murphy takes this spirit with him into his business, describing his office and his team as being like his home and family. He has always been of the opinion that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with.
“No one human being can be what they are, when they’re successful, without surrounding himself or herself with good people, particularly having a loving family.”
He goes on to make a particular note of his wonderful wife Diane who has been by his side since 1978 while adding “at the moment there’s an election coming up, and some are promoting family. I think that’s what Queensland is. I believe Queensland is family.”
Oxmar is also in the habit of forming long term relationships with the people involved in the company, both staff and consultants. Some of the team have been on board for 20 years or more, and Mr Murphy greatly values this sincerity and longevity of commitment.
“We believe we’ve got wonderful consultants around us,” he says. “Such as engineers, surveyors, planners, landscape architects, contractors. We’ve managed to stick solid with a lot of those people from day one.”
Oxmar Properties is currently selling blocks of land in several projects across Queensland, including 1,200 lots at Narangba Heights, Narangba, about 500 lots at Griffin Crest, Griffin, and 200 lots at Bridgeman Hilltop, Bridgeman Downs. All three land estates have sales teams on site.
“My son has been with me for twenty years, he manages Griffin Crest, plus Murrumba Castle, which is at Murrumba Downs. The Narangba Heights estate is managed by Cam Haag, who also has been with me on and off for about twenty years.”
In addition, Oxmar Properties has on the books a seaside development at Burrum Heads, called On the Beach, a 1km beach frontage estate which consists in total of over 700 lots and 170 villas.
“Bridgeman Hilltop is a couple of hundred lots. It’s the seventh development I’ve done in Bridgeman Downs. I’ve lived in that suburb for more than 15 years, and my office is at nearby Aspley. I work five minutes from home, and ten minutes from most of my estates.”
Another property, the Samford Royal Estates, located in the south-eastern Brisbane village of Samford, will soon begin the last stage of development. This project consists of acreage lots with town water, with sizes up to 8,000sqm, and is located 14km from the city.
“We’re building townhouses at Carseldine, which is again five minutes from Aspley. I have another estate at Bridgeman Downs called Bridgeman Heights, which only has half a dozen blocks left.”
The Investor Market
Oxmar also has a property in Bray Park which is a little more unique, being one of the company’s only estates that operates at 50% investor and 50% owner-occupier, making it extremely affordable.
“We strive to maintain at least 80% owner-occupiers in most of our other estates. We screen very closely our buyers, which takes a lot of extra effort and time, but the effort is reflected in the calibre of the estate. It doesn’t cost a lot extra to achieve great street appeal, something you simply don’t get in investor-driven estates.”
Mr Murphy explains how many estates are dominated by rental properties, sometimes with 90% of the homes sold to the growing Sydney or Melbourne investment market. Oxmar Properties doesn’t want its estates to be so heavily investor driven.
“If you had a house out at, say, Liverpool, or in the Hills District or in Newcastle, or any place close to Sydney—you could come to Brisbane and be a lot closer to the city, and could buy two of the same thing for the same price as the one property you’ve just sold in Sydney.”
The median house price in Brisbane is currently around $550k, which provides investors with a rent return of around $450-500 a week. This is in contrast to Sydney, where the median price of around $1.15m gives a rental return of approximately $800 a week.
“So you’re getting a higher rent return for the two properties in Brisbane than you do for the one in Sydney, and the most appealing thing to the investors, particularly from Sydney and Melbourne, is they’re getting two products against one. So they’re spreading their risk.”
As a result, the company makes sure to screen all investor inquiries for its properties. Mr Murphy meets personally with any potential investors to make sure that the company requirements will be honoured and accepted.
“Our requirements are not too onerous, and they don’t make houses unaffordable, but it’s critical that when you drive through any of our estates the homes always look appealing and presentable. A huge percentage of investor estates or rental estates are not cared for anywhere near as much as estates which are occupied predominantly by owner-occupiers.”
Mr Murphy understands the need for many more people to be renting in the current climate, but insists that if people come to rent in the area in which he has estates, the aim is to have them renting in the best possible conditions.
“I’m sincerely passionate about that,” he says. “Anyone who buys land from us, and builds in our estates, receives our promise to do our utmost to protect their security for as long as possible.”
The purchase of a home and land is always one of the most significant commitments anybody will make throughout their life, so it’s critical that buyers are able to trust the company to protect their security.
In practice, this means a salesperson going through each clause in the contract with the buyer, whether they are an owner-occupier or investor, making sure that all of the specific covenant conditions Oxmar needs in order to protect people are agreed upon.
“Even as far as solar is concerned, a developer cannot prevent persons putting solar on their roof, and we wouldn’t seek to, but our covenant ensures that we try to get the solar in the best position, so its least visible as possible from the streets.”
The covenant standards are not designed to restrict buyers, but to allow the company to continue providing the best living environment available for those who buy from it. It is clear that Mr Murphy cares about every one of his buyers.
“I try and meet as many buyers as I can,” he explains. “My mobile phone number is available to every single buyer, and our office number is given to every single buyer, so that they have access to me.”
Keeping it in the Family
Away from his work life, Mr Murphy is just as active. He is at heart a family man, and speaks with great fondness about both his own family and those of his employees, who he treats with the same level of love and respect.
“We’re a very, very close-knit family set up at Oxmar,” he explains. “All my staff have young families. We celebrate each staff member’s birthday with a lunch in the boardroom, which everyone enjoys together. We all sit round the table and everyone writes little poems and tells jokes. We all enjoy these fun times.”
Members of Mr Murphy’s own family are also deeply involved with the business. His eldest son Justin has worked for him for many years, and his daughter Stacey also came on board about four years ago.
In addition to his position as director at Oxmar Properties, Mr Murphy is also heavily involved in the world of sports, owning 22% of the Brisbane Broncos rugby league team, as well as being the major sponsor of Australian World Champion boxer Jeff Horn.
“One of my hobbies is watching great jockeys compete in racing. I enjoy a red wine two or three nights a week with my dear wife, and I don’t mind the occasional Mount Gay rum with ginger beer. My life is my family and my work.”
Mr Murphy’s main pleasure is derived from his relationships with family and co-workers, and he speaks fondly of the Oxmar Christmas party, where staff bring their children along to be involved in a close family celebration.
It is an appropriate note to end on to mention another of Mr Murphy’s great passions, that being for chaplaincy. As a man of faith, he believes in the power of this service for children who go through hard times at school, often caused by drug- or alcohol-affected families.
“No-one knows the amount of children’s lives that are saved by a chaplain at schools. For kids who are going through hard times, a chappy is a shoulder to cry on, provides a caring listening ear, is available, and is a good friend or mate.”
Hard work, compassion and family are mainstays of Mr Murphy’s life. In this respect, all these things feed into Oxmar Properties, making it not just a successful business, but a business that truly cares about all the people it comes into contact with.
The Federal Government has just released the Terms of Reference for its review into the way it calculates funding for non-government schools.
The review of the socio-economic status (SES) score methodology – by the newly minted National School Resourcing Board – will be significant for the Catholic sector, the largest non-government provider of schools in the country. One in five Australian children attend a Catholic school.
At stake is a foundational principle of Australian public policy – school choice for parents.
The NSRB therefore needs to produce a more accurate way to assess the capacity of families to contribute to the running costs of their schools – the basis on which the Commonwealth decides how much public funding each non-government school receives.
We all want a fairer system; the current system assigns each non-government school an average SES score based on factors such as parents’ postcodes and their educational level. The problem with this approach is that it treats high and low income families at the same school as though they are able to contribute equally.
The 2011 Gonski report highlighted the shortcomings of this methodology. Even the architect of the model, Professor Stephen Farish, has said it’s not working and needs to be made fairer.
The Commonwealth is the major funder of Catholic system schools and therefore the main reason our schools are able to provide quality, affordable education for most families. Catholic school parents, therefore, have a major stake in the outcome of the review.
The parents of Australia’s 765,000 Catholic school children will be watching with interest.
A key opportunity and challenge for companies today is streamlining and fine tuning their revenue generation operations. While on a broad basis it could be argued that this involves everyone in the company, most focus on two key groups or functions, sales and marketing.
Traditionally when revenue improvement initiatives were introduced, each group went about delivering in their own way, with little discussion or regard for the other. While they may have been present at the same initial strategy meetings, the rest was done within their own silo, with little or no consideration or input from the other. In some companies, the only purpose one grouped served for the other, was as a scapegoat for failure.
Over the years there has been talk of, and some steps taken several to aligning and bring the two organizations together, but few companies achieved much traction. Often the catalyst was less will, than other drivers, both internal and external, forcing the two to work together. Sales and marketing failed to realize that many of these unsuccessful efforts were a direct extension of market and customer expectations.
Some did break down barriers between the two groups, but it most quickly went back to their assigned lanes. Marketing, looked after branding, lead generation, more recently “content”. Sales, filling their pipeline, often with leads they generated, instead of those generated by marketing; then moving those opportunities through the cycle to close. Marketing rarely if ever actively participating beyond the point where the “Marketing Qualified Lead” was handed off to sales.
It is not surprising that the most successful companies are those that are responsive to the market and their clients, and focus on innovating and getting ahead of customer expectations, and winning new customers by delivering an experience that exceeds customers’ demands and expectations. Something difficult to achieve when two key groups who should have a singular focus and purpose, are marching at different paces, and not always in the same direction.
Alignment Is No Longer Enough
Talk of aligning sales and marketing is interesting, but no longer enough. Sort of like saying that Blackberry is a smartphone, when everyone expectations are guided by iPhone or a Note. Smart companies are past alignment, and have moved to eliminating two groups in favour of one organization, Revenue. Within the revenue team, there still specific functions that reflect things traditionally associated with sales or marketing, but they are all on the same team, same responsibility and accountability, namely revenue. There is more to this than assigning someone at the top with the title of Chief Revenue Officer, while allowing for business to go on as usual. Revenue teams need to have the same accountability and be responsible for revenue success and growth.
A good start is incentive, it has always been strange that these groups are often rewarded in different ways, for different outcomes, which at times are not aligned. For example, marketing may get measured and rewarded on the number (and at times even the quality) of leads generated. Yet in practice, only a small percent of these leads are ever worked by sales, many put it at single digits. Both arms duplicating efforts, expenses, and squandered resources and time. While there are a range of reason for sales not wanting to depend on marketing for leads, the reality is that it is less likely to happen if both were tied to the same outcomes.
The above is a symptom of a widely held, yet erroneous view, that marketing is responsible for one part of the buyer journey, once buyers reach a specific point in the journey, they are punted over to sales. Unlike football, the best results are achieved when everyone brings their expertise to bear throughout the buyer journey.
Sales needs to realize that they can do a much better, and I would add, easier job of helping the buyer to make the right decision if they worked with marketing to ensure that buyers are receiving the right insight at each stage, from pre-lead to close, and, beyond. Sales also has to understand that they don’t need to carry out the “latter” part of the journey alone, that marketing can seed their path, making it easier for buyers to move towards close.
This requires clear and ongoing communication between sales and marketing throughout the ‘client life cycle’. While some may not like the analogy, but one needs to think of it as Marketing providing air cover for the ground troops, Sales. To be clear, we are not hunting prospects, we are hunting revenue, and that is serious business. There needs to be clear lines of communication, sales need to feedback to marketing what is happening on the ground, and why. Marketing in turn needs to provide sales and the buyer with insights that facilitate the buyer’s understanding. This feedback loop allows sales to have input not just in what they need to win current deals, but have a direct influence on the type of leads marketing should be targeted to achieve collective revenue goals.
A key opportunity for marketing is to provide insights to both buyers, and their own sales people. Insights that go beyond curation of content, and generic information, to elements that spur interaction and reliance on the salesperson subject matter expertise; expertise that itself is supported by marketing.
At one company I worked with, we involved marketing in deal post mortems. These are easy for sales to conduct when they win the deal, but not so when they lose one. The knee jerk response from buyers who choose another vendor, is to point to price and features, after all, the buyer has transitioned from decision to implementation. Yet, when marketing approaches these same buyers, with a well-crafted set of question that are aimed at understanding the outcome rather than relitigating the sale. The insights gained help both sales in terms of specific steps they can take in the next similar sale. Helps marketing fine tune their messaging throughout the sale, and right down to leads targeted, and new upsell/cross sell opportunities. In other words, a singular revenue process, versus the typical asynchronous approach most take.
It is not just about getting along, and all about integrating and working as one revenue generating unit.
About Tibor Shanto
Tibor works with leading B2B companies including Bell Mobility, Imperial Oil, Pitney Bowes, and others, helping them improve their sales execution and results. Called a brilliant sales tactician, Tibor works with clients to translate sales strategy to reality. Tibor develops sales people who understand that success in sales is about Execution – Everything Else Is Just Talk!
Despite the profound benefits Search Engine Optimisation provides businesses when applied correctly, this marketing method remains something of a mystery to many business owners the world over.
By first understanding its definition, we can begin to appreciate what Search Engine Optimisation has to offer.
At its simplest, Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO can be defined as a process that maximises the number of web users visiting a website, by ensuring it is displayed as highly as possible on page one of keyword searches that the search engine will select for you.
However, this definition barely scratches the surface of what SEO has to offer, nor the processes involved in implementing a successful SEO campaign, and why it’s such an effective marketing strategy.
A brief history of search engines provides an illuminating insight into not only how they have changed the way we conduct many of our daily activities, but also into how SEO came to be.
Search engines have revolutionised the ways in which we obtain information, conduct research, search for and purchase products and services, entertain ourselves and connect with our peers.
At the back end of nearly every online destination – be it a website, social network, blog or app – lies a search engine. In fact, search engines are now so prevalent in daily life that the word ‘Google’ has itself become a noun.
With the amount of information on the web continually increasing, search engines were born out of necessity. They gathered and displayed the vast swathes of information available in a concise, easily accessible and presentable manner. Now artificial intelligence is being used to help organise much of this data.
Around 1997, when Flash was being used to create sites, search engines were still listing websites alphabetically – a far cry from the algorithms used today for determining which order to display sites.
Only a handful of inquisitive and knowledgeable web providers discovered that by reading the code of sites being displayed on the first page of search results, a unique code could be applied to other sites they worked on ensuring they would also appear on the first page.
Applying this method resulted in increased customers for businesses hiring those that could successfully implement this strategy. However, despite the clear results, a degree of skepticism remained in some regarding the relativity of the code and its direct influence on increased visitors to the sites, and therefore, increased business. Those that changed their websites completely and lost the unique code invariably found their leads rapidly drying up and left wondering why.
The Google Revolution began in 2000
In 2000, Yahoo partnered with Google, allowing them to power their organic search results instead of Inktomi, which resulted in every Yahoo search result displaying ‘Powered by Google’.
This move, which is considered to be the worst strategic move in the history of search, inadvertently contributed to Google – who, although little-known back then, were Yahoo’s biggest competitor – becoming the household name they are today.
Prior to this point, search engines mainly ranked sites based on their on-page content, domain names, and ability to get listed in relevant directories, and their basic structure and code formation.
Google’s introduction of their algorithms and web crawler in 2014 was revolutionary for online information retrieval, while also setting the bar high for it’s competitors.
Whether or not we’re aware of it, SEO is a necessarily pertinent component of web usage. It ensures users are directed to the information most relevant to their search terms, and is a powerful tool for businesses seeking more qualified leads.
If knowledge is indeed power, then understanding how results are delivered serves as an essential element to any business owners’ marketing toolbox.
First and foremost, search engines aim to provide the most accurate results to web users’ queries. They use over 250 plus ranking factors to determine the most unique, high-quality content relevant to a particular search term and display each result in a corresponding order. These factors can be loosely defined as on-page, which considers the quality of a site determined by a highly technical algorithm – and off-page, whereby sites are graded by their overall popularity.
A site’s popularity is determined by many factors, with the most applicable influencers being the number of high-quality backlinks from other websites, and the level of engagement on various social media channels.
The former is achieved through publishing highly informative and useful content on quality websites with the aim of earning backlinks, whereas the latter is accomplished by encouraging engagement on the myriad social media platforms that are linked to the website.
Skepticism about the effectiveness of SEO remains rife, with many still questioning the time, effort and financial investment in improving a website’s organic SEO. However, the acquisition and monitoring of relevant data is an integral part of SEO, and the results gleaned from this data lends credence to the benefits search engine optimisation has to offer.
1. The Results Cost Relatively Little Compared to PPC and AdWords
When implemented correctly and successfully, organic listings are a worthy investment for business owners as it is long lasting. When organic SEO starts to dominate, the need for paid listings such as Google AdWords can be reduced and in time paused so the business owners do not remain dependant on this service. The services of a results proven SEO professional is a worthy investment, as consistent levels of increased traffic can be directed to a website regularly. By contrast, traffic levels typically drop back down to zero once a paid campaign is paused.
2. Increased Trust in a Brand is Invaluable
Web users trust organic listings as much as they trust Google to provide them with reputable brands in searches. In other words, the higher a site is listed in the top ten organic search results on page one, the higher the levels of trust in a brand – and that trust cannot be bought. In fact, most web users tend to ignore paid listings in favour of highly ranked organic listings. Furthermore, the lower a site ranks, the less likely web users are to trust the brand.
3. Significantly Higher ROI (Return on Investment) Than Standard Ads
While a paid ad might convert a small percentage of visitors into making a sale, the same visitors from SEO will typically yield a much higher conversion rate, thus deeming SEO as the superior marketing method – both in terms of ROI and effectiveness. Furthermore, many web users often accidentally click on Pay Per Click ads that the business owners still need to pay for regardless, whereas those same accidental clicks on organically placed listings from SEO cost nothing. Essentially, a click on an organic listing is considerably more valuable than on a paid ad, resulting in a much higher ROI.
4. SEO Provides Permanent Results
Although an SEO campaign may take some time to secure the coveted first page status with various keywords being targeted, the results gleaned from these efforts can be everlasting. Through the continued publication of high quality content, it would be highly unlikely a website would lose its high ranking positions. On the contrary, sites that are paying for their positioning will disappear into the ether of the internet once they pause their campaigns or run out of budget.
The Importance of Content with Artificial Intelligence
Creating great content is the key to online success – and this holds especially true with the continued development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and SEO. Publishing engaging and interesting content across a variety of websites, blogs, videos, social media channels and guest blogs means that should one piece of your online presence be affected by an AI-related shift within your site, it won’t affect your overall online presence to the same degree.
When creating content for SEO purposes, your focus should be on the relevancy and value to your visitors. Keyword phrases should be replaced by the content that is centred on a key concept related to your particular keyword. Therefore, rather than repeating the same keyword in your content, it is much more prudent to write a blog post, or a series of blog posts all relating to one another that focus on a single topic while taking a broad approach to the subject.
To achieve success in an artificial intelligence powered organic search world of today, it is imperative to focus on creating a positive user experience. This is accomplished by continually creating and publishing high quality, interesting, valuable and relevant content that is easily accessible across all devices.
About Senka Pupacic
Senka is the founding Partner and Principal Consultant at Top 10 SEO Services based in Sydney. As an author, speaker, and consultant, she has advised and worked with companies and organisations across two continents in web analytics, regular testing of algorithm updates, web design, content management and online search engine marketing. Her aim is to assist Australian businesses with their visibility on the world wide web bringing them in front of the people that matter, their future clients. Find out more about Top 10 SEO by visiting: www.top10insydney.com
Ideas have consequences, particularly when applied to the study of liberty. This is the story of how an idea of HRH Prince Philip had many major consequences, among them being the creation of Mannkal Economic Education Foundation.
In 1956 HRH Prince Philip, a keen observer of industrialisation and its effect on individuals, realised that the three main community sectors (industry, trade unions and government) were not talking to each other. He devised a plan to select 100 potential leaders from each of these three sectors and ‘lock them up together’ for three weeks. This way, he felt that life-long bonds would be forged between warring parties and the benefits would become obvious during subsequent years.
He taught us how to ask questions by reminding us that, the first time we ask anyone a question, we will only receive a polite answer. This is because they are unsure if we really want to know. The second time we asked that question they will take us slightly more seriously and again give a partial answer. It’s only on the third time when we ask the same question, still being polite, that we will really get inside their mind and once they realise how serious we are they will open up and give us the true story. HRH Prince Philip said: “That’s the answer I want you to bring back to me, fully refined and fully focused.”
He recognised that a single approach doesn’t suit everybody. “We can bring our children up by the book as long as we use a different book for each child,” he said. He asked us to think and speak as individuals and not just be a spokesperson for any organisation or government. He told us to get over our great Australian distrust of excellence.
These were the two points that he wanted to leave us with. Firstly, that we should come to our own conclusions and act as an individual to avoid what is now termed ‘group-thinking’. He’s so focused, on individualism, that when he invited us to the Buckingham Palace 50th Anniversary Reunion he said: “… and you can’t bring your wives or partners because I’m not bringing mine.”
His secondary message was always: “Don’t be afraid to excel and be the very best person you can possibly be.” He commented that our grandfathers described themselves as being the last generation of untrained managers but when we meet the managers of the future, we will realise that our grandfathers may have been referring to us.
Known for his ‘zingers’, HRH Prince Philip has a way with words. While in Australia with us he marveled at “corri-bloody-gated iron roofs” on houses and enjoyed the notion of “wowsers”, or people who weren’t willing to do their bit. Travelling around Australia with HRH Prince Philip in 1968 we picked up many words of wisdom from the Prince himself. He told us: “the rate of change made it more important to teach people how to think rather than what to know”. He saw the problem of obsolete teachers and itinerant teachers. If only our educational system, then and now, followed his advice. He described governments as moving “with the fleet-footedness of a centipede with arthritis of the legs”.
He commented that some of our politicians should keep their wisdom to themselves.
In 1968, HRH Prince Philip was ahead of his time with many of his words still ringing true today. He said: “Ideas are coming into Australia from the young people and unfortunately there is a time delay before they permeate through to the old. Don’t leave the change too long. Be tolerant but not permissive with our young. They are as much the children of their age as we were of ours.”
These comments, and the study tour itself, were behind my inspiration to set up our Mannkal Economic Education Foundation.
Mannkal Economic Education Foundation
The logos of both Mannkal and Mannwest, feature a conveyor belt containing either material or ideas as part of the crushing, sorting and refining process.
Mannkal’s strategy incorporates the economic philosophy of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). In 1952, when I was 16 years old I connected with them. We have put these thoughts and actions through our ‘corporate crushing, screening and refining process’ and our ‘output’ is smart, questioning and useful young West Australians (over 1000 so far).
Within Mannkal, young people are interviewed and selected for events that will expose them (many, for the first time) to economic and political philosophic principles that promote the virtues of individual responsibility (which is difficult) as opposed to the (easier) alternative of ‘living off’ the efforts of unsuspecting taxpayers, many of whom are less well-off than the recipients of handouts.
This leads these young people to studies into the (often unintended) long-term consequences of many of today’s short-term legislative solutions and policy proposals. Ideas have consequences, particularly when applied to the study of liberty.
Liberty. It’s a simple idea, but it’s also the linchpin of a complex system of values and practices: justice, prosperity, responsibility, toleration, co-operation and peace. Many people believe that liberty is the core political value of modern civilisation itself, the one that gives substance and form to all the other values of social life.
In this year of Mannkal Foundation’s 20th Anniversary, the momentum is building to the point where it is taking me away from my life-long involvement in mining and management and I look forward to writing a similar letter to that written in 2006 to Study Conference attendees by HRH Prince Philip. I’ll write that letter, in 30 years’ time, requesting that Mannkal Foundation scholars might like to contribute to a 50 year commemorative book. Just as we did, with this book, to mark the significant achievements of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences.
I think it is appropriate to drink a toast to the continued good health of HRH Prince Philip.
Ron Manners is the Managing Director of the Mannwest Group. He is a Fellow of both the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His contributions to industry and Australia have been marked by several awards including being elected as a ‘Mining Legend’ at the 2005 Excellence in Mining & Exploration Conference in Sydney. In 2010 Ron was appointed to the Advisory Council for the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Washington, DC.
There’s plenty of hype around digital. A few basic figures are enough to show that it’s not overblown.
3.4 billion people are on the same, global network. Internet is the world’s biggest communication platform, information hub and data generating machine — ever.
It’s also the world’s largest market, and it’s growing rapidly, at 10% year-on-year.
We’re used to looking to the future to find the hockey stick moment, where suddenly growth becomes exponential. We don’t need to look any further. It’s already happened.
A new generation of companies have used Internet to increase their reach, or to target niches that previously wouldn’t have had the scale to be profitable. 40% of the world’s top 20 companies by market capitalisation are tech companies.
A new global market has allowed firms to quickly scale up, and accelerated network effects have forced firms to speed up everything they do.
That’s released a new wave of competitive pressures. Alibaba and Amazon aren’t bound by geography. They’re willing to compete anywhere with a network connection. Right now, that means just about anywhere.
The world’s most nimble, fastest-moving companies are hunting slow-moving lunch: companies that are too complacent to protect themselves from digital competition.
As Jeff Bezos says, “your margin is my opportunity”. Digital entrants are coming into industries we never would have expected.
It started in industries that were easily digitised: think of music (Napster and Spotify), media (Buzzfeed and Breitbart) and classifieds (Seek and LinkedIn).
It’s moving into industries that we used to think were too strictly regulated to accommodate a radically new business model: like hospitality (Airbnb and Deliveroo) and financial services (Monzo and WePay).
Every company is becoming a digital company. If your customers are used to watching movies on Netflix, managing calendars on Google and booking transport on Uber, they’ll grow frustrated when their insurer or retailer can’t keep pace.
Customers aren’t comparing one bank to another. Their expectations are being set by the world’s most digitally-sophisticated players.
And companies the world over are starting to realise.
Australian firms have been slow to change. Even now, too many Australian companies think of themselves as having a digital channel, and refuse to be compared with the world’s best digital firms.
Take the saga of Harvey Norman and Amazon. In June, Gerry Harvey said Amazon was aeons away from an expansion into Australia: gaining approval for, planning and building warehouses would take years. When Amazon went ahead and bought an existing warehouse in Dandenong, Harvey doubled down, saying Amazon would get a few customers in urban centres like Melbourne, but couldn’t match Harvey Norman’s national reach.
That’s the same thing Macy’s CEO was saying, before his company was forced to shut 100 stores recently, in part because of fierce competition from Amazon.
The new era of digital means Amazon can go from bookstore to leading private label supplier of baby wipes and batteries, from Washington to Melbourne, from garage retailer to global behemoth with over 310 million customers. Consider that it took Walmart 54 years to reach a customer base of 260 million shoppers per week.
Australian businesses have had 26 years of sustained growth. They have not needed to innovate, to upgrade their business models or their management and leadership skills. How will they compete with global digital companies?
This is a challenge like we’ve never seen before.
It’s also a lesson about the success of companies meeting the digital imperative head-on. To compete and succeed as digital companies, Australian firms need to act on three fronts.
First, corporate governance needs to be ready for modern, digital ways of working. We’re used to the era when digital and IT projects involved large capital expenditure, heavy governance and lengthy procurement processes. Now, you can use your credit card to go onto AWS and rapidly experiment with a product.
These days, the best way to reduce risk isn’t to write a lengthy requirements document — it’s building a product quickly, releasing it to users for feedback, seeing what they really want and getting it to market fast. Established companies need to learn that lesson from the agile, innovative start-ups trying to disrupt them.
Second, it means insourcing digital business, and ensuring internal digital teams have the capability and aptitude to build and operate great digital products themselves.
Too many companies are in the habit of outsourcing their IT to large vendors. This stops them from rapidly experimenting and improving their products in-house.
Google updates its servers thousands of times a day; you can’t do that if every update involves a call to your vendor negotiating a change in scope.
Digital companies don’t outsource the development of their digital products because that would be outsourcing their competitive advantage. That’s why there is a war for talent.
Third, it means strong leadership to generate the political will to transform the company. Digital transformation involves telling people there is a better way to get things done.
That can be painful, but it’s necessary. Transforming business models, organisation structures and relationships between suppliers, staff and communities is confronting. Shedding wrong people or retaining the wrong skills will stall the competitiveness and threaten the very existence of a company. Transitioning a large workforce out of an industry requires courage and the cooperation of the government and the unions.
If Australia doesn’t equip workers with modern digital skills, and actively encourage the development of a competitive economy, we will see a significant fall in living standards. Not all workers have the means , time or energy to devote themselves to retraining. Part of that responsibility needs to be borne by government, and the companies who will benefit from their digital workforce.
This isn’t a question of ‘Evolution, not Revolution’ anymore — if Australian companies don’t start to make the switch, their competitors overseas will be happy to do it for them.
Paul Shetler is a technologist and entrepreneur with over two decades’ experience working on large scale IT and organisational change projects – spanning the public and private sectors. He has co-founded two start-ups, worked in two others and also been in leadership roles at large suppliers like Oracle, Microsoft, and the global payments network, SWIFT.
More recently, Paul was responsible for transforming the way government delivers public services. He was appointed CEO of Australia’s Digital Transformation Office in July 2015 by Malcolm Turnbull and served in that role and later as Australia’s Chief Digital Officer until November 2016, delivering 6 exemplar services, a digital marketplace, a government cloud platform, a services dashboard, an alpha of a whole-of-government website – GOV.AU – and an alpha government identity platform. Paul also signed an MOU with the British government that strengthened the relationship between the two countries’ digital teams and made it easier for them to work together.
While working at the UK’s Government Digital Service, he helped develop a suite of practical lessons from its work to transform 25 exemplar services. Before that, he was Chief Digital Officer at the UK Ministry of Justice (where his team delivered four of those 25 exemplar services).
Paul has lived and worked in New York City, Rome, Milan, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and London and done the weekly commute to work from the East Coast of the US to San Jose. Currently,
Since 2015 he’s called Sydney home where he works as Expert in Residence for Stone & Chalk.
American venture capitalist Tony Hsieh believes that you have to stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion, a lesson that would be well learned by those in charge of the rather concerning business that is the National Rugby League.
In their own 2016 annual report, the NRL boasted of increased revenue, increased television ratings and increased club memberships, yet the NRL has somehow produced a cash shortfall so bad it applied in June for a $30 million bank loan to ensure that NRL clubs would receive their grants paid on time.
When your business has secured $1.9 billion in media rights payment, questions must be asked as to how the NRL could find itself in such a hole, and part of that has to do with how the passion has waned for many.
With the increasing move away from suburban venues such as Leichhardt, Belmore, Kogarah and Campbelltown, the interest of many fans has dissipated.
While the toilets may not work, and the canteens might only provide room temperature beer, there is a charm and aura of these monuments to history that cannot be replicated by fireworks, big screens or wi-fi.
The double edged sword, though, for the NRL is that the more modern fan and the traditional fan cannot be more removed from a common view on these venues, and this is where the nuts and bolts of cold business decisions must be made.
Fans who cannot enjoy the game in person tend to shy away from the game, be it as supporters or parents of young players, and this was reflected in a two percent drop in male participation according the 2016 NRL annual report.
That number, two percent, makes an appearance again when you look at the average attendance figures in 2017, with attendances in the regular season also down two percent.
With such a correlation between participation and crowd numbers, solutions must be found to both problems, which shouldn’t be difficult given the barrel of money the NRL has access to.
However, the business model of junior rugby league development is failing. Most clubs, particularly those in country areas, still need to charge registration fees for players, and that’s before mum and dad fork out at least $70 for new boots, who knows what depending on what type of mouthguard they settle on and even private health insurance.
With the astronomical rise in cost of living in Sydney, these are costs that cannot be borne by many families, for whom a bike ride or walk in the park provides an opportunity for fresh air, exercise and avoiding potential injury.
The failure to invest in junior clubs, especially those in lower socioeconomic areas, is a betrayal of the code’s heritage.
It is only through innovative programmes being introduced by the New South Wales Rugby League, including weight for age competition, and nine a side competitions which allow for more athleticism and less physicality, that junior numbers have not shrunk even further.
It is at this lower level of the game that future first grade players are created, not just by junior participation but by second and third tier semi-professional competitions, such as the InTrust Super Cup in Queensland, the InTrust Super Premiership in NSW and lower division competitions such as the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield.
However, while this decline in male participation and NRL attendances is cause for concern, the exponential rise in female participation gives two pivotal points from which the NRL can relaunch itself against the AFL.
While the AFL is about to embark on it’s second season of a women’s competition, rugby league has seen a 22 percent increase in female participation in 2016, while 2017 saw the NSW Rugby League launch two women’s competitions for the first time, the NSW Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership, and the Tarsha Gale nine a side tournament for under 18s.
Not only has rugby league engaged more women in playing the game, but this is setting the game up longer term to potentially embrace more male participation as well, as more children are allowed to play the game by mothers who have the experience of participating in the game as players rather than officials and volunteers.
This, however, is a longer term focus for the game, and with finances in a critical condition in the present, more needs to be done to create financial opportunities for the game to survive.
The NRL’s decision to take a grand final to Brisbane during the redevelopment of ANZ Stadium is a financial winner for the game, as is the relocation of a State of Origin match to Perth.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, with expansion a must for the game.
Viable yet untapped supporter, financial and television markets currently exist on the NSW Central Coast, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Adelaide, Perth, the south island of New Zealand, Wellington and even further afield throughout the south pacific in Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
While the latter two markets require financial assistance to bring their local facilities up to code, the former markets do not, with only the Sunshine Coast needing to build a new stadium.
Again, the future of the game would be well served by expansion into these markets from a participation perspective with more opportunities for young rugby league players to make their mark in the top grade, creating more opportunities to play for feeder teams in a second and third division, ensuring more participation opportunities are created as clubs seek more players to fill more positions.
The blessing that the current difficulties impose on the NRL is that expansion of the elite competition can drive revenue streams, ensuring governments have more money to partner with the NRL in upgrading suburban venues, encouraging more people to attend games and, thus, more demand for product and more participation in the game.
Sport is one of the few business models in the world which can be kept alive by passion, and by buying into the passion of fans, the NRL can finally rival, and even dominate, the behemoth to its south.
One of the big issues facing marketing is the perception, commonly held in businesses, that it is nothing more than the ‘colouring in department’. It is a demeaning phrase and one I heard most recently earlier this year when I was invited to participate in a CEO Forum in the City by one of the accounting firms.
It was a breakfast meeting with a speaker presenting on how to drive business growth in low growth economies. There were about forty CEOs all enjoying pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt. Most were from medium to large private businesses predominantly with a business-to-business focus.
The presentation soon gave way to an open discussion between those present on the drivers of growth, with a heavy emphasis on the sales function as the real driver of revenue growth. Marketing did not get a mention until the speaker asked about the role of marketing and one of the CEOs delivered his knock-out put-down of marketing, which was met by the general consensus of the others in the room.
Reflecting on this, I considered how the marketing and sales function works seamlessly in our own B2B professional services business. It is a seamless and integrated approach that starts with defining the business requirements and the revenue and growth objectives and identifying the segments and services we believe will deliver this growth based on past data and informed by market changes and customer trends.
Six years ago we implemented a major change in marketing direction, moving from a traditional out-bound marketing approach to an in-bound marketing strategy. This meant we went from a sales support model for marketing to one under which content marketing, SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media drove customers to our website and content, at which point automated marketing would help identify those customers and score their sales potential with encouragement to make an enquiry and become a lead. This lead would then be handled by sales to discuss the needs of the client, propose a solution and convert the lead to a sale.
The change in strategy had a significant impact in the first year leading to a 300% increase in traffic to our website and a 30% increase in revenue in that first year. You can read about this in more detail on our site here https://www.trinityp3.com/2013/05/website-visitor-growth/ including specifics on how it was developed and implemented. Under our outbound marketing strategy we were averaging a conversion rate of 26% – considered quite healthy. But with the in-bound marketing strategy our conversion rate is now 64% as in many ways the prospect is self-validated at the time they decide to become a lead.
For those interested, follow ups on those that do not convert indicate that it is usually because the prospect does not have the budget required or have decided to take a lower cost option or even undertake the process themselves.
At the end of last year we had over 200,000 unique visitors to the site from around the world and the site visitors continue to grow, which is terrific for a relatively niche consulting business in marketing management consulting. You can read more about how we achieved this visitor growth here: https://www.trinityp3.com/2017/02/200000-website-visitors/
The quality of those visitors is also high, based on the number of pages visited and time on-page, which all goes to calculate their Lead Score. We are continually testing the process of turning visitors into leads, looking for ways to optimise lead generation and conversion rates.
While some marketers will wonder where the role of brand building fits into this strategy, the fact is the content and the brand presentation is integrated into all aspects of the process to ensure every interaction builds on the brand positioning. All parts of the marketing and sales process are measured, optimised and reviewed to ensure we are achieving our short, medium and long term growth objectives, creating interest, driving leads, converting customers and building and reinforcing reputation.
So, it made we wonder how these other CEOs manage their marketing teams? What is the role of marketing in an organisation where the leader is comfortable describing it as the ‘colouring in department’? Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating in-bound marketing for any other business and not suggesting that we are in anyway the perfect example of business building. But the starting point for us was a recognition that our traditional out-bound marketing process of database cold and warm calling along with advertising and public relations and sales support materials was not delivering the leads and sales conversions we needed.
It meant we needed clearly to articulate our business objectives and then develop a marketing and sales strategy that would attract the customers we needed. It was not a sales-led strategy or a marketing-led strategy, but a customer-led strategy. The sales people and the consultants who are closest to our existing customers inform the content and content marketing strategy and marketing focuses on maximising traffic and optimising leads, leaving sales to convert those leads into sales and revenue. All parts of the business share results and review performance on a weekly and monthly basis. There is no point marketing increasing leads if conversions drop, so both must work together to drive revenue and profitability.
Hopefully the next time you hear a fellow CEO refer to their marketing team as the ‘colouring in department’ you’ll share with them the fact that if they have set up their marketing function simply to colour in their sales support materials then they are really not doing it right and then direct them to this article or our website. Having the right marketing and sales strategy working together has clearly driven growth for our business and will absolutely deliver the same results for yours.
Darren Woolley is the CEO of TrinityP3 Marketing Management Consultants www.trinityp3.com a micro multinational with offices in Sydney, Singapore, New York and London.
One of the hardest tasks that you will be faced with in an entrepreneurial endeavor—or any journey that involves leading others—is helping people to see the end product of the vision that you have in your mind. Since you cannot simply transfer your thoughts into the minds of others, you have to face the non-trivial challenge of communicating past their personal biases and individual perspectives. No two people see the world in exactly the same way, but you must find a way to help others see at least a glimpse of your inner world in order for them to understand the bigger picture of what needs to be done.
Hiring purely obedient contractors or employees that have no commitment to your larger story, and don’t really care about the end goals of their work is fine in some cases, but you may find yourself fighting an uphill battle to get people motivated and to understand the meaning of their role in it all. On the other hand, a person who sees your vision is much more likely to not need to be micromanaged, to be more adaptable to changes, and to understand intuitively what it is that you are looking for.
In order to guide people towards your ends and help them to see your vision, it takes more than simply rational explanation. As much as the pieces seem to fit perfectly well in your mind as a logical whole, the truth is that people need a narrative to be the emotional glue that will hold all of these truths together for them. How do you do this, though? How do you induce people to see your project the way that you see it? Nothing you can do will guarantee it, but there are a few tactics that you can employ to help communicate your intent in a much better way than simply relaying a linear set of instructions day after day:
1) First, establish the team’s identity
People have much more of a sense of mission when they identify with their role. This sort of thinking is both a positive and negative trait in human beings; it has built empires as well as destroyed them. Use this powerful source of motivation to your advantage. Tell your team stories about what kind of people you are and what sort of character your organization has. Tie this identity to the kind of goals that you want to achieve. Take a cue from the likes of Walt Disney, who was very specific in that his company produce media that embodied a quality of childlike wonder. Observe Steve Jobs and how he demanded nearly inhuman results from his team of “pirates” during the microcomputer revolution.
“Who am I?” is a very important question to every person, and if you can at least partially answer that question for members of your team, you will gain devotion in return.
2) Explain the path towards your goal as if it has already happened
Describe things as clearly as if the finished product were sitting before you. Even if plans change, people work best when they feel that there is always a direction, something definite to shoot for. Speak in concrete terms, and see the goal the way you would if it was already done. A little haziness can happen sometimes, but you can’t expect people to latch onto fog. Tell them stories of what you want and exactly how you plan to get there.
3) Allow your team to give input every step of the way
People can get behind something much more easily when they feel a sense of ownership. They are also much more likely to understand what your goals are if they are an active participant in discussions on how to get there. Reward your team members for good suggestions and constantly ask for their input. This might even help you to expand your own limited perspective when it comes to your projects.
4) Show concrete examples of what you want
Sometimes your vision may be for something that does not yet exist in this world, but a case like this is very rare. More often than not, there will be examples of other companies with similar goals who have achieved their ends. Offer real-world examples of the results that you want, and the members of your team will have a much easier time understanding you. As you compare the abstract ideas floating around in your mind with the concrete results of other organizations, you may even realize that you didn’t have it as well figured out as you originally thought.
5) Give your team a big “why”
You can try to communicate the path to your goal, and you can try to influence your team to personalize their roles, but ultimately this may not be enough if the individual members don’t have a big enough “why.” You may have observed that morale is particularly low in people who feel that their work has no meaning. If your team is struggling to find a meaning to what they’re doing, then they probably don’t understand your vision well enough. Sometimes the very thing that will snap everything else into focus is revealing why you are ultimately pursuing your specific goals. The why is what determines the how, and so it will allow your team members to better understand the anatomy of your goals.
For example, if you decide that your business should enter a very untested market, then explain to your team members why you think that you will meet success on the other side. Give specific reasons and share all of your research with them. Do not let the direction of your projects be a huge mystery while you play the dictator. No one works well if they believe they are being led to their possible doom.
Ultimately, though, the best thing that you can do to clarify your vision to others is to first clarify it with yourself. As you write down your plan, think of all the details as carefully as possible. Does anything seem fuzzy? Are you having trouble putting something into words? Do you have any negative gut feelings about possible obstacles in the future? Perhaps these are areas where you are not yet clear yourself. Once your vision is fully articulated in your mind, it is much easier for others to get on board. An obvious confidence in what you want will almost always induce others to follow, and you might find that your actions and demeanor will do much more to explain your vision than your words.
In a perfect world, every person you’ve ever hired is a completely mature adult who is very socially aware, takes almost nothing personally, and has a nearly super-human ability to turn the other cheek when others don’t display similar qualities. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world—we live in this one. Sometimes you will be faced with having to deal with professional (or unprofessional) conflict among your employees, conflict that may even detract from the normal productivity in the workplace.
While you may feel, as many do, that you can’t be bothered with your employees’ personality clashes, these are the sorts of problems that can escalate and affect the company’s reaching its goals. Morale can slowly erode over time as problems are left unaddressed and your employees start working against each other instead of as a team. Workplace politics can be very costly, and you will want to limit this kind of inefficiency as much as you can. So if you find that employees turn to you when they feel that there are unresolvable personal issues on their level, you might want to step up to the challenge and stamp these problems out at their root using some tried and true guidelines:
1) Don’t paint a rosy picture.
It’s easy to delude oneself that a conflict doesn’t exist by sweeping it under the rug. For many people, this is their very definition of “professionalism”–to essentially pretend as if human nature and conflict is non-existent, rather than to address it directly in a mature way. You may be tempted to simply chastise your employees for their in-fighting, or to encourage them to ignore the seething problems underneath, but this will only lead to the illusion of peace. You might very well find over the long-term that your denial will come back to haunt you. Allow your employees to be honest with you about what is happening, and don’t try to compel them to sugar-coat things.
2) Strive to be non-judgmental.
Do you want the truth? If you do, then your employees need to feel that you won’t over-react or otherwise make snap judgments about what they will share with you. Get both sides of the story during conflict-resolution, and try to remain as impartial as possible during your information-gathering phase. Even if you hear about an employee doing something highly inappropriate, suspend your reaction for the moment, and listen carefully. This will encourage people to tell you the whole story, rather than just what they think you will be able to tolerate well. To truly get to the root of the problem, you will need the whole story.
3) Examine issues as quickly as possible and as they come.
If you preferred to ignore conflict in the past, you may have noticed how it can seethe and blow up over time. Sure, some problems can “take care of themselves,” but this isn’t usually the case, so address conflicts as you become aware of them and smother them before they become bigger problems.
If John comes to you complaining about how he thinks Karen took all the credit for the last major project, take this small resentment seriously and bring it out into the open before it turns into an all-out war of egos between two employees.
4) Help your employees see their common ground.
When discussing the problem with your employees, try to see where they might agree amongst the disagreement. Using this starting point, you might actually be able to discover that the conflict was due to a misunderstanding. Often times, it is exactly as the cliché says: 10% of arguments are due to a difference of opinion; 90% are due to a wrong tone of voice.
5) Make a plan together that ends the tension.
Ideally, all parties are involved when you come to a decision about some kind of resolution. Beware, however, of “compromise,” as it has a tendency to give both sides of the conflict less than what they want. It is much better to think win-win, and try to find a way for all employees involved to save face and have their needs met if possible.
6) Be pro-active about conflict resolution.
One of the best approaches is to simply address problems before they even happen. If you see an employee being negative, stepping all over the boundaries of others, or simply behaving in a way that invites conflict, bring it to his attention. Many people aren’t aware of how they affect others, and they may not even realize that the way they act causes the people around them to resent them.
In particular, examine employees that are in leadership or managerial positions. Power—even in relatively tiny quantities—can enhance personality problems, and an accumulation of small injustices against employees that are lower in the hierarchy can be disastrous for morale. For these sorts of people, do your best to encourage self-awareness.
7) Screen problematic people from the beginning.
When assembling your team, it is extremely important that you take personalities into account as much as you do technical ability. It would be great if people could always put their differences aside and focus on their work with the precision and depersonalization of a fleet of robots, but technology is not yet that advanced. In the meantime, you will have to screen your employees as best you can before you even hire them.
While you are interviewing potential team members, ask them about their personal relationships with coworkers at their previous place of work. Ask them about conflicts they’ve had in the past and how they handled them. If your prospect seems to pit the blame on others and seems to take no responsibility for his hand in things, then think twice about bringing him in.
8) Lead by example.
As someone with a lot of influence, you could easily out-muscle anyone who disagrees with you by invoking your rank. Instead, show understanding towards others. Don’t take things personally when your employees have differing opinions from yours, and give each idea respect and consideration, even if you don’t personally agree.
Mediating conflicts between employees and dealing with other similar human problems can be one of the more difficult parts of being in a leadership position. Simply remember to remain calm and address the problems directly, rather than trying to ignore them, and half the battle is already won.