Posts Tagged ‘strategic’

Non Profit Board Resolutions for 2014

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Is Your Non Profit Board Ready to Tackle 2014?

By Joseph John

Two years ago, I wrote an article about making and keeping non profit board resolutions. I thought it would be fair to dust off that document from 2012 and see what — if anything — has changed with your non profit’s organizational resolutions for the New Year.

The first question you need to ask is this: Were there ANY formalized resolutions for 2012 or 2013? Was there a board retreat (or at least a special meeting) to determine goals/resolutions for those years? Another question: Were there ANY personal commitments from board members to contribute to the organization’s growth, health, and well-being? And so here we are heading into 2014; what has your organization accomplished over the past two years? What do you hope to accomplish in 2014?

Non profit board resolutions are really no different than the personal resolutions individuals make. Oh yes, there are always great intentions behind those resolutions, but invariably, there are periods through the year that the resolutions tail-off into a nose-dive, one-by-one. What resolutions an organization needs are the same as an individual — manageable resolutions. Yes manageable resolutions that will encourage board commitment AND follow-through during the entire year.

You’ve probably seen dozens of resolutions before, but let’s reinforce some of the ones below that you and your board can and should make. These are resolutions that will ultimately make a difference to the community you serve.

First things first: Determine where your organization exists on the mediocrity-good-great continuum. What will move you and the organization from mediocrity to good. What will move you from good to great? [Note: see my article “Moving Beyond Mediocrity”]

Second: You may remember an article I wrote regarding “Organizational Milestones.” In that article, I stated that an historical timeline creates a better grasp for seeing trends over the almost thirteen years since the millennium to determine what the next one, three, or five years might look like. It’s a great planning tool. And yes, I’ve already tested this concept with a number of associations that I deal with — and they collectively say “OMG…that would be fantastic for all of us to review.”

Let me ask you: Does your non profit organization have the organizational “guts”, that is, the commitment, to set the bar higher, and to venture into new markets that you haven’t approached before? Is your organizational “vision” aggressive enough to make reaching for new goals a real challenge?

The following resolutions, or goals, are not new. You’ve seen them before. However, it’s time to review each one and determine which of the following items your organization can achieve in order to reach higher and ultimately move from Mediocrity to Good to Greatness. Let’s recap:

Friend (member) raise. Remember the axiom: “Friend raising comes before fund raising.”

Open the box. Now seal it! Be different. Be unique. Make people say, “now that’s a unique and creative non profit organization.”

Raise communication awareness internally. Start talking to each other — board members and staff members. If you can’t communicate clearly among yourselves, then the next resolution is going to fall flat on its face.

Raise communication awareness in the community. Again, “open the box” and start thinking of unique ways that will generate POSITIVE communication throughout the community.

Raise your hand. That’s right! Don’t sit on your hands. When you start leaning towards delegation, then delegate to yourself first.

Raise the bar. Set some higher goals for friend raising, fund raising, and other initiatives that require going that “extra mile,” and beyond!

Dust off the bylaws, vision, mission, and values. Challenge, if need be. Change or modify them if necessary. DON’T wait. Mediocrity is mired in dusty old bylaws, vision, mission, and values.

Take ownership. “It’s Your Board.” Make yourself an owner of the organization and begin pushing for excellence, unity, and most importantly trust.

Sow the seeds of board recruitment. Recruit and groom new talent on the board and that means looking towards the “X” and “Y” generations so they can become the future leaders on your non profit board and great community spokespersons.

Try a fresh coat of paint. Determine if your organization’s image needs a fresh coat of paint to create a brand new, and vibrant, organization to the community.

Plan for the future. Focus on the here-and-now with an eye for keeping the pipeline of future funding open for your organization.

Say “thank you.” Two little words are two HUGE words. “Thank you” is one of the greatest ice-breakers, which leads right into friend-raising — and the cycle continues from friend raising to fund raising.

The previous twelve (12) resolutions were presented in 2012 and again in 2013. Has anything changed in your non profit organization since then? Go ahead and rank-order the ones that you and your fellow board members can work on immediately. Commit to excellence. Resolve to keep your resolutions for 2014. Remember that keeping your resolutions will result in benefits for you, your organization, and the communities you serve.

The Importance of Public Relations

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Why is Public Relations relevant in today’s work environment?

By Tiffany Engleman

In a world where information is constantly at one’s fingertips, communication is essential for operating a healthy business. All companies need employees who are able to communicate effectively to any audience. Public relations professionals become the link in communication between companies, their target audiences and the media.

Tom Glover, a writer for Profile, the magazine published by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the United Kingdom, states, “Clear and consistent communication helps organizations achieve their goals, employees to work to their potential, customers to make informed choices, investors to make an accurate assessment of an organization, and society to form fair judgments of industries, organizations, and issues.”

Great public relation’s professionals can provide businesses with the positive image necessary to build relationships with the public. They can also create growth in success rates of direct mail, sponsorships, advertisements, and all other forms of permission-based marketing. These basic functions are what make the field of PR relevant and beneficial to businesses today.

Not only do PR professionals focus on image and information distribution, but they also look deeply into the competitors of the businesses that they represent. Information such as whether a competitive company is a profit or non-profit organization is just one of the pieces of information that a professional will know. PR experts also have an understanding of how their information and communication efforts will affect the competing companies as well as their own position amongst the competition.

Public relation’s professionals hold the key to beneficial information for a company when communicating with the public, maintaining a positive company image, and also providing a substantial position among competitors. This information is critical for a company to operate lucratively, especially in today’s business world.

Works Cited:  Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education.

Playing and winning takes STRATEGY

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

by Neil Kuvin


A simple enough word. Does anybody disagree with the fundamental meaning of strategy: “a carefully devised plan of action to achieve a goal, or the art of developing or carrying out such a plan.” (Encarta Encyclopedia)

StrategyWhy does this very basic construction of a “road map,” if you will, cause so many disagreements among serious management thinkers? Those in executive positions have struggled to steer their businesses, or clients to some form of sustained success. And the succinct, pragmatic response to describing a “Plan” escapes through holes caused by disagreement. Having a shared vision or definition of strategy is not simple, but essential. Let’s give it a shot.

BIZCEOS requires me to focus on business first, so let’s explore that only for now. So, what is a business strategy? First off, it is different from vision, mission, goals, priorities, and plans. It is the result of choices executives make, on where to play and how to win, to maximize long-term value.

“Where to play” specifies the target market in terms of your company or the customers and the needs to be served. The best way to define a target market is highly situational. It could be defined in any number of ways,

1. target customers (in certain parts of the world or in particular parts of your agency’s focus),

2. how they buy (very specific channels),

3. who they are (their particular demographics and other innate characteristics),

4. when they buy (for example, on particular occasions),

5. what they buy (for instance, are they price buyers or service hounds?)

6. or for whom they buy (themselves, friends, family, their company, or their customers).

Having a differentiated approach to a target market can be a source of great advantage in its own right. Southwest Airlines is a case in point. Early in its development, Southwest defined its target market to include regular bus travelers — people who wanted to get from point A to point B in the lowest-cost, most convenient way.

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In contrast to the industry’s hub-and-spoke standard, Southwest’s point-to-point operations and hassle-free service model comprised a compelling value proposition for people who were choosing bus travel. You win (first) and obviously Southwest does by filling their airliners.

Tried booking a flight on Southwest lately? Their destinations, availability, generally lower costs and personal attention are just a few of the elements that make them desirable. This gave them a unique growth path compared to the traditional airlines. And latest attempts by most other carriers to raise additional revenue by charging serious money for extra bags, blankets, schedule changes, etc. have been positively rebuffed in a terrific PR and advertising campaign. That’s strategy!

The “where to play” was probably the most successful element of their strategy. What they did about it: essential for success. But without very carefully selected playing fields the message could have been expensed on millions of non, or occasional flyers.

A good strategy calls for the right amount of “capabilities stretch”: not too much or too little change from capabilities already existing.

Every company faces innumerable options for where to play and how to win. Often they have to sort out seemingly conflicting objectives, such as the need for both long-term growth and short-term profitability, to choose which options to pursue. To “maximize long-term value” means — when there are mutually exclusive options — select those that will give the greatest sustained increase to the company’s economic value. How do you know when you’ve maximized value? You can’t, because you can never know with certainty if there’s a better option than those you’ve considered and promoted. To “maximize long-term value” is to never stop looking for those higher-value options.

“Winning” is the value proposition that will distinguish a business in the eyes of its target customers, along with the capabilities that will give it an essential advantage in delivering that value proposition and identity. Choices must be made because there is at least one way to win in every market. But not everyone can win in any given market. With good choices, you, or your business clients gain the right to win in your target markets.

The “value proposition” simply stated, for air travelers, using the Southwest conditions, is essential from a “give me what I need” perspective. Southwest has landing rights in many cities where travelers want and need to go. And they “win” against an industry that maintains the status quo in marketing and advertising.

So, in the end, to define the fundamentals of yours or a client’s business strategy, here are some topics to consider as you answer three questions:

1. Who is the target customer?

2. What is the value proposition to that customer?

3. What are the essential capabilities needed to deliver that value proposition?

4. What’s “winning” look like?

Without clear and coherent answers to these four questions, you may have an exciting vision, a compelling mission, clear goals, and an ambitious corporation with many actions under way. But you don’t yet have a strategy.

The Culture Cycle: Pressure, Performance and Perfection

Friday, December 16th, 2011

The Culture Cycle The Culture CycleThe link between culture and performance has been and is

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being studied by one the most renowned researchers, authors and thought leaders on organizational management and culture, James Haskett. In his new book, The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the unseen once that transforms performance, Haskett writes, “In many organizations, culture is the most potent and hard-to-replicate source of competitive advantage.” High performance culture is thriving. It’s not just a personal strategy; it’s becoming one of the principal and critical drivers of performance in most successful companies. The approach taken by today’s business leaders puts them under intense pressure to maximize performance and demonstrate success with quantifiable, measurable and sustainable conditions. Their leaders present some of the most incredibly challenging opportunities to company chiefs. The mood created is extraordinary. Is it perfectionism? Does it motivate or diminish the psyche and the real nature of the goal? In one fell swoop, focusing on companies that “get it” and those that don’t, Heskett proves that developing an effective, dynamic, forceful culture can account for up to half of the difference in operating income between two organizations in the same business. “Organization culture is not a soft concept. Its impact on profit is significant and can be measured and quantified,” he writes. Heskett provides a compelling case for the economic value of an effective organizational culture that he bases on four important sources of cultural competitive advantage — the “Four Rs” — of referrals and retention of employees, returns to labor and relationships with customers that foster customer referrals and retention. Energy and effort is what gets you there. The more the merrier. He finds that as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organizations can be attributed to effective cultures. Why? “We know, for example, that engaged managers and employees are much more likely to remain in an organization, leading directly to fewer hires from outside the organization,” Heskett writes

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in the book. “This, in turn, results in lower wage costs for talent; lower recruiting, hiring, and training costs; and higher productivity (fewer lost sales and higher sales per employee). Higher employee continuity leads to better customer relationships that contribute to greater customer loyalty, lower marketing costs, and enhanced sales.” Neil Kuvin  

The Power of Logos

Friday, July 8th, 2011

LogosLogos are the quickest way to identify your brand. 

Consumers can recognize brands on which logos are imprinted.   Your company’s logo should be eye catching, unique, memorable, and evoke positive emotions.

Before you create or change your logo, keep the following in mind:

1.  Your logo must reflect brand value.  Logos are macros to an elaborate brand strategy.  Logos support your brand identity and should reflect your business.  For example, if speed is your brand’s value, make sure your logo reflects that value by, say, depicting motion.  Likewise, depending on the nature of your product or service, your logo can reflect strength, time, characteristics of target audience, etc.

2.  Your logo must convey the intended meaning.   Logos can range from highly abstract to simple.  While both types tend to acquire meanings, you have to work harder to create awareness for abstract logos, and it takes longer for the target audience to retain a memory of the logo. In general, keep in mind that consumers understand the intended meaning of logos and recognize them easily if the logo designs are concrete, natural and simple. What comes to your mind when you visualize the following brands: Pepsi, Coke, Ford, Nike, Reebok… You get the picture!  In other words keep it simple.

3.  Your logo must evoke positive feelings.  In addition to being readily recognizable, logos must convey a uniform meaning and evoke positive feelings.  These positive brand-related emotions reduce uncertainty among customers and help them avoid a myriad of unfamiliar brands.  Logos acquire emotive power over time, especially with good integrated marketing, advertising and public relations support programs.  The same logos you visualized a short while ago (Pepsi, Coke, Ford, Nike, Reebok), also tend to evoke positive feelings for the consumers of those brands.


What clients want

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Nation’s leading law firm marketing pros in Chicago for their annual RainDance conference, May 2011.

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Laura Meherg has a pretty good handle on the relationships between lawyers and their clients. After all, she has conducted hundreds of top-level law firm client feedback interviews over the past few years.

This week, Laura and one of her associates at Wicker Park Group, Nat Slavin, offered their insights into what businesses want when they hire a lawyer or a law firm. When she has asked them, according to Laura,

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most clients tell her they’re looking for three qualities in their lawyers above all others:

  1. Can you fix my problem?
  2. Will you make my life easier?
  3. Do I like you as a person?

The first two might not come as much of a surprise. But Laura’s third criterion (more…)

Six Keys to Writing a Great Case Study

Friday, July 24th, 2009

case-study.jpgMaking it all about the other person—that seems to be one of the marketing flavors of the month. I’m talking about the marketing premise that great salespeople have known, accepted, and practiced forever. (Think Dale Carnegie.) So, how do you do that? How do you put the spotlight on your clients, customers, prospects, and anyone else who matters? (more…)