Want to be an agile selling machine? It starts with your business model

Want to be an agile selling machine? It starts with your business model

(Utiliser le traducteur à droite ou au bas du texte pour voir le texte dans une autre langue)

Companies are having a much harder time selling than previously. Not only are sales lower, the ones that get done require longer sales cycles and tougher negotiations with customers. In the end, it amounts to less revenues and higher costs.

Our struggling world economy takes part of the blame here but there are other factors at play. One of the more important ones is a fast changing market dynamic, mostly brought on by ecommerce and social media, in the last few years. The impact is currently stronger in the B2C realm but it is crossing over to the B2B side quickly.
Two of the resulting trends for businesses are:

  • Globalization
    It’s often as easy to buy from across the world as it is to buy locally, and
  • Significantly shorter time to react to markets needs and wants
    Somewhere in the world another business is now giving your customers exactly what they want product, service and/or customer experience wise.

What hasn’t changed much however in the last decades are the business models we use in day to day business management. Most companies are still managed with hierarchical structures within functional silos. These structures result in information flow blockages and longer reaction times (the larger the business, the longer the reaction times).
Bell Canada, in its Q1 2014 shareholder report lists, among its business risks the following:

  • the intensity of competitive activity, and the resulting impact on our ability to retain existing customers and attract new ones,…
  • our failure to satisfy customer expectations and build a low cost operational delivery model

Business models that would enable agile selling would therefore be ones that take into account the necessity to always be in tune with customer/user needs and the short reaction time that most companies now face in order to keep being relevant to their customers.

Techno Marketing blog’s next post will look at business models that answer these new realities.

Le eGouv municipal au Québec : Un retard à rattraper

Le eGouv municipal au Québec : Un retard à rattraper

(Use text translator right or bottom for English or other languages)

Pour cette série de billets, qui seront intercalés entre les billets sur le marketing des TI, j’ajoute mon chapeau d’économiste à celui de spécialiste en marketing.

Le Québec accuse un retard face au reste du Canada dans l’offre de services en ligne à ses citoyens. Cette série de billets regardera plus attentivement les causes et suggérera des pistes de solutions afin d’aider les municipalités à accroître leur offre de services en ligne à leurs citoyens. Elle permettra aussi aux citoyens de mieux comprendre les enjeux des municipalités à ce niveau.

La problématique

Il y a deux faces à la médaille de l’adoption des technologies pour les municipalités. D’abord l’adoption des technologies par l’appareil administratif municipal lui-même puis l’adoption des services en ligne ou technologiques (telles les cartes à puces) par les citoyens.

Le gros bon sens, et plusieurs études, nous disent que si un gouvernement n’est pas rendu suffisamment loin lui-même dans sa courbe d’adoption des technologies il sera peu enclin à offrir des services en ligne à sa population ou fera fausse route dans ses tentatives d’implantation de ce type de services.

Au Québec, de nombreuses municipalités accusent un retard dans l’adoption de TI pour leurs propres fins administratives. On note également que, plus une municipalité accuse un retard technologique important, moins elle est enclin à initier des projets pour se mettre à niveau. Il y a de multiples raisons à cette constatation dont : présence d’une culture inadéquate au sein de l’administration, des investissements en capitaux importants et un manque de ressources humaines suffisamment qualifiées.

Les erreurs à éviter

Mettre en branle des projets d’eGouv pour la population sans d’abord mettre à niveau l’administration municipale. On s’entend qu’une municipalité n’a pas besoin d’être à la fine pointe des technologies elle-même pour offrir des services en ligne à sa population. Il faut cependant que la culture administrative y soit propice et que les infrastructures technologiques internes puissent au moins supporter les services en ligne qu’on désire offrir à la population. Agir autrement augmente les risques d’amener une surcharge de travail pour le personnel administratif de la municipalité, le démotiver et d’offrir des services en ligne médiocres ou carrément mauvais aux citoyens.

Importer les compétences requises de façon temporaire pour implanter les projets de gouvernement en ligne. Les municipalités ont souvent recours à des consultants externes, le temps d’un mandat, pour implanter leurs projets. Une fois les consultants partis les ressources permanentes sont aux prises avec de nouvelles problématiques de gestion pour lesquelles elles ne sont pas formées. Agir autrement augmente les risques de stress et démotivation du personnel administratif de la municipalité et de voir une partie ou la totalité des objectifs du projet ne pas être atteints.

Les pistes de solutions

Les administrateurs municipaux doivent prendre conscience que les premiers pas seront les plus longs et les plus coûteux. Qu’il faut commencer par la mise à niveau (tant de l’équipement, des processus que des ressources humaines) de l’administration interne avant de penser à mettre leurs services en ligne pour les citoyens.

S’assurer que lorsque les consultants débarquent pour un tel projet, qu’une partie de leur mandat consiste à former (ou faire un plan de formation) des ressources permanentes de la municipalité et de préciser les compétences requises à moyen et long terme pour la gestion du nouveau quotidien que générera le projet.

Les problématiques sont souvent complexes dans ce type de projet. C’est pourquoi il faut une forte motivation et les conditions gagnantes pour démarrer la machine. Un prochain billet de cette série s’attardera sur ce sujet.

Content strategy: What is it? Do I need one?

Content strategy: What is it? Do I need one?

(use translation widget right or bottom for other languages)

What is a content strategy?
Although you will most often see the term content strategy used for digital or web content strategy, it is more than just this. Content strategy refers to the planning, production, coordination and control (hence management) of every type of content (written, audio, video and sensory) delivered in any type of media you can think of (not just digital).
It requires the input of every single key resource in the company. Marketing and communication should however be responsible for the content strategy.
Subsets of content strategy would be digital, web, mobile or content marketing strategies. The latter having revenue generation as an ultimate goal.

Where does it fit in my business management?
Content strategy is a subset of your marketing and communication strategy which in turn is a subset of your overall business strategy.

What is in a content strategy?
The content strategy plans I have seen are all over the place as far as what is in them. The content strategy plans (not to be confused with digital or web content strategies) we do at Baker Marketing typically include:

  • Content objectives (homogenization, consolidation, diversification or broader diffusion of content are common objectives)
  • User experience touch point map. There can be maps for suppliers, partners, internal and external resources as well as customers (current and potential). This map can be used as a starting point for your customer/user experience design exercise as well.
  • Types of content (what is already available and what is needed)
  • Content distribution channels (medias). The ones already used and those needed.
  • The content/media mix (usually presented in table form)
  • What the competition is doing
  • A crisis communication plan outline (optional)
  • A SWOT analysis
  • Recommendations

The content strategy feeds a content plan where you find a detailed plan with specific actions tied to objectives, a schedule, resources needed, control tools and processes as well as a detailed content budget.
To the small business owners who have not been scared off by all that a content strategy is, let me reassure you. A content strategy can be done quickly and simply in the case of most small businesses. The beauty of the content strategy is that it’s like Lego blocks. You can build on it as your business grows. You don’t have to do it all at once.

Does my business/organisation need a content strategy?
Just like any other actions you can take, the answer is only if it brings more to your bottom line than it costs to make and maintain one.
A good content strategy allows your business to reduce costs and increase revenues by:

  • Ensuring all the content you produce contributes to your business objectives (in most businesses this alone will offset the cost of the content strategy and plan)
  • Projecting a consistent image in the market across all media channels
  • Getting the messages you want to the right people in the least costly way
  • Reducing confusion
  •  Set guidelines for your web developers/content managers as well as marketing and communication campaigns
  • Maximising the contribution of your content to your marketing and sales objectives
  • Identifying potential communication issues before they arise
  • Ensuring all stakeholders in your business share a common content strategy

In the end, a content strategy is another management tool in your arsenal to ensure your business runs efficiently.

Do IT companies still need to cross the chasm?

Do IT companies still need to cross the chasm?

In the early 90’s Geoffrey Moore wrote ‘’Crossing the Chasm’ ’, a pillar in the marketing of technologies based on the theory of diffusion of innovations by Everett Rogers. It soon became the marketing bible for most IT companies.

Most, if not all, IT companies were treating their first few customers as innovators and the ones following them as early adopters. Then came the dreaded chasm. Crossing the chasm meant a live or die situation. If you couldn’t get the early majority of the mass market on board, you wouldn’t make it. Your marketing strategy had to be in tune with where your solution was on the innovation adoption curve otherwise your company risked death by chasm.
This was, by far, the best marketing approach in the 90’s and early 21st century when most applications or technological products were true innovations in the sense that Rogers wrote about. Rogers’ definition of an innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption.
Today a majority of applications or technological products are a variation or a better mouse trap version of something that already exists. Therefore they are often not perceived as new by the customer.

The innovation would be then be perceived by customers to be the category of software or product your specific solution falls under and not the new offering.
Why should you care? Because the customers you will be targeting with your brand new application or product may very well not be innovators or early adopters. They may have an early or late majority profile or even a laggard profile.

Hence you won’t need to cross the chasm at all. This little truth will significantly impact how you market your solution off the bat. In fact, it should seriously impact how you develop your application or product. That however, is a story for another post.