Creativity and Innovation Lead to More Sales

In today’s hyper competitive environment, your organization has to relentlessly pursue innovation. Creativity can lead to new ideas that become competitive advantages.

It’s also no longer enough for Sales, PR and Communications to tell your company’s story. Employees throughout the organization need to become de facto members of your Integrated Marketing team.

How do you create an environment of creativity and innovation?

Ask and answer these three questions:

  1. Who are we trying to reach and influence? Clearly define and drill down your target markets and communicate to everyone in your organization about these segmented groups. How do they think? What moves them? Why do they say ‘Yes’ to your company? What makes them say ‘No?’ Explain your target markets in detail to your entire organization so everyone knows the specifics.
  2. What are we really selling? Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market isn’t just selling fish. We can buy fish at thousands of places and barely remember doing so. Pike Place is selling the experience just like Starbucks and Apple. Today’s marketplace is driven by our experiences. Asking ‘What are we really selling?’ and tailoring your message to that experience can increase sales and enhance your brand.
  3. How can we tweak our offerings to better meet our customer’s needs?
    Make gathering customer feedback part of your formal sales process. Have each salesperson ask their clients and prospects how to change and improve the company’s offerings with questions like: “What are the top three things you would change about our company?” “What’s the one thing we could do to make you happier?”

Coach your sales team on how to ask the questions and track the results. Respond to what customers and prospects say. Be willing to change, innovate and create something new. Tell customers and prospects what you learned and what you did about it. Then, make the ask and close the business.

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

Make Industry Experience Added Bonus, Not Top Priority

Solutions to help you grow…

When searching for a new hire to fill a key position, temptation exists to find a direct or exact experience match. For example, if the position is in health insurance sales, search for someone with health insurance sales experience. If a company needs a vendor partner, find one that focuses mainly on your industry.

While it is understandable hiring managers or company leaders want a new team member to ‘hit the ground running,’ focusing too much on industry experience can limit potential or result in a bad fit for the organization.

Time and again we have seen clients frustrated because new hires with plenty of industry experience lack the creative mindset or internal drive necessary to succeed. On the other hand, we have watched talented individuals change industries and thrive. The same goes with vendor partners. Good ones leverage their problem solving skills to succeed in multiple industries.

Think about why most new hires or team members don’t meet expectations. Is it because of their lack of technical skills or industry knowledge? Nope. Usually problems occur because of factors like a lack of drive, the inability to mesh with the team, clashing with their new boss or struggling with the corporate culture. And, regardless of the level of industry experience, new hires still need to be re-trained on their new company’s systems.

This is not to say having industry experience is a bad thing. It can be a positive but should rank behind other more important attributes like drive, creative problem solving skills and a track record of individual and team success. Drive or desire to excel is critical to success—you either have it or you don’t. Creative problem solving skills separate peak performers from the rest of the pack. And, a track record of success indicates an ability to consistently achieve goals.

Instead of overemphasizing a direct or exact experience match, focus first on attitude and outlook. Industry experience can be a plus or added bonus. But, the lack thereof can be overcome through talent, drive and creativity.

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

If It Has To Be Your Idea, You’re Stunting Growth–Yours and Your Company’s


Sounds of Marketing
“Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, Graduation(2007) by Kanye West

La, la, la, la wait till I get my money right

Hearing this song makes me think of the beginning of the movie The Hangover. But forget that for a moment while we focus on our tendency to fight new ideas and how that impacts both our growth and that of our companies.

La, la, la, la then you can’t tell me nothing right 

It’s an understatement that change is difficult for anyone. As we gain experience and achieve more success, we struggle even more–consciously or subconsciously–with different perspectives. We begin to stick more with the decision making that brought us success.

I feel the pressure, under more scrutiny,
and what I do? Act more stupidly.

We push back on new ideas from peers, subordinates, people inside and outside the organization. It doesn’t matter who or where the ideas come from because the end result is the same.

Even my Momma couldn’t get through to me…

It’s probably a strange combination of hubris, insecurity and resistance to change. It takes courage and discipline to listen to new ideas from others.

Excuse me, was you saying something?
Uh, uh, you can’t tell me nothing

You might not even realize you are stifling creativity or ignoring potential opportunities. Maybe you really think yours is the best or only way. Regardless, your personal growth and that of your company is stunted.

Ha ha you can’t tell me nothing
Uh, uh, you can’t tell me nothing

You can change your ways or hope for the best in a challenging economy that requires everyone to relentlessly pursue innovation to survive.

Take a look at your decision making process. How have you been responding to differing opinions and fresh approaches? Open up to new ideas and creative strategies. The end result will be ongoing growth for you and your organization.

Watch the video here

Get Where You Want to Go!
Light Reading Archives

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA is President of MASSolutions, an integrated marketing firm focused on improving the bottom line for clients through creative selling, messaging and PR solutions. He’s also author of “Get Where You Want To Go: How to Achieve Personal and Professional Growth Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling.” For more information, go to www.massolutions.biz.

“Bittersweet Symphony” – Sounds of Marketing

The Verve- Urban Hymns(1997) 

I still can’t figure out why the Seattle Seahawks entered Ford Field for Super Bowl XL to the sound of The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony. I mean, it’s a good song, but not really a stadium rocker. Oh, well. Everything worked out for them and the Steelers anyway, right?

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die

According to market research from the Conference Board, an organization known for the Consumer Confidence Index and the Leading Economic Indicators, less than half of all Americans say they are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61 percent twenty years ago. Job Satisfaction goes up slightly among those who earn the most but only to 52%. Why?

I’m a million different people from one day to the next…

There are a number of reasons cited as to why most Americans are unhappy with their jobs. Many are tied to self awareness or the lack thereof. If you don’t know who you are and what drives you, how can you know what you want to do in your career?

No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change…

It’s true we can’t change our value system or who we are. The former Seahawk Jerramy Stevens will never have the competitive fire of a Joey Porter. But we all have natural abilities we often overlook because they come easily to us. Ask for help from others when it comes to identifying your strengths and how to parlay them into career opportunities.

I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down

You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

Many people end up doing things they are good at but don’t enjoy. Or they drudge off to work at something that doesn’t interest them. You’ve heard it a thousand times: Follow your heart. What drives you? What do you like? What are you good at? Focus on your ‘passion skills’—things you are good at and enjoy doing. Develop a career plan to find a position that means something to you and make the commitment to reach it.

Otherwise, you could look back with regret. Or you might just blame the referees…

Listen and Watch While you Read! 

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing
SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz

The Experience Trap

When screening candidates for a management position, experience plays a major role. Companies also consider years of service when deciding on promotions. And, it’s human nature to defer to more experienced co-workers when making major decisions.

But are there instances when experience can work against us?

It seems the answer could be “Yes” if we become complacent in our approach.

Professors Kishore Sengupta and Luke Van Wassenhove have spent years studying how experience impacts productivity in the workplace. Their research suggests seasoned managers in complex environments often suffer breakdowns in the learning process, resulting in missed deadlines, budget overruns and other problems. Contrary to age old beliefs, managers with significant experience don’t necessarily produce higher caliber outcomes than relative newcomers.

Sengupta and Wassenhove believe managers can fall prey to what they call “The Experience Trap” by failing to revise goals and targets when circumstances change, allowing biases to color the chain of decisions that determine a project’s outcome, and missing the connection between causes and effects that occur over time.

Before our cagey veteran readers cry foul, this doesn’t mean experience isn’t valuable or that ‘out with the old, in with the new’ will improve the situation. Instead, be wary of overestimating the importance of experience and use these strategies to stay clear of “The Experience Trap.”

  • Challenge assumptions and the standard, old way of thinking about things. Don’t do something just because “we’ve always done it that way.”
  • Seek and listen to feedback from up, down and even outside the organization and be willing to act on what you hear and learn.
  • Include managers and professionals with new, fresh perspectives on teams and in decision making. Be willing to change and try new ideas.

 

Finally, improvement must start at the top. The majority of training is usually geared to mid and lower level employees. Focus more development and training on those higher up in the organization. Foster a culture of fresh, creative thinking so you and your organization can avoid falling into ‘The Experience Trap.’

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.


Are There More Stupid Statements Made in Sports or Politics?

Allen Pinkett’s nonsensical comments today  that the suspensions of four Notre Dame football players could be a sign that the program is gaining its edge got me thinking: If we had a competition for most stupid statements between politicians/political commentators and athletes/coaches/sportscasters, who would win?

It would be quite a battle.

Both groups make a lot of unwise public comments. Why? A whole lot of reasons. But I’m guessing their hubris leads to a lack of preparation and over confidence, a deadly combination with an open mic around.

I’m all for transparency and being true to yourself, your core values. On the other hand, just blurting something makes little sense. If you’ve trained much of your life to be an athlete or work in the political realm, you know the drill as far as public comments in interviews. Clear, succinct messages. Honest yet respectful. If your Mom wouldn’t like to hear you say it, don’t say it in an interview.

The rest of us “average” folks can learn from these “stars” and remember to think before we speak and to prepare like a professional before any interview.

What do you think? Who do you think would win?

 

The Old Way v The Two Way

The Old Way of Marketing involves pushing products and services to customers through mass marketing. Product Managers identify broad market segments to target, set prices based on profit goals and plan “Old Media” campaigns.

Two Way Marketing engages customers through interactive communication via “New Media” such as text messaging, mobile applications and social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook. The goal is to develop relationships with potential or existing customers, find out what they want, develop and provide it to them when and where they want it at a price they’re willing to pay. And, of course, tell them about it again and again.

Communication is two way when the focus is on “drilled down” target markets within thinly sliced segments of potential customers. Long-term relationships grow when companies listen to customers and revise products or services based on feedback. Customized news alerts provide timely information and solidify relationships. Web retailers suggest products based on purchase history and real time shopping patterns. Text messages tailored to our location, interests and personality simplify decision-making.

Leaders must shift the emphasis from transactions to relationships, from telling to listening. Instead of just pushing unsold inventory, develop what the customer wants. Some organizations are on the right track and have reinvented the marketing department into the “customer department.” More than 300 companies, including Hershey’s, Samsung, United Airlines and Sears, now have a Chief Customer Officer focused on making the organization customer centric.

Regardless of title or position, we all need to make sure the customer is still king. Customer information must flow seamlessly throughout the organization and lead to ongoing positive change. Ask them what they think, listen and respond accordingly. Make the customer the center of everything you do.

Forget about the old way and start thinking about the Two Way–ask, listen, learn, deliver–to succeed now and in the future.

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.

“Lose Yourself” – Sounds of Marketing

Lose Yourself – Eminem

 

Look, if you had one shot or one opportunity 

To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment 

Would you capture it or just let it slip?

 

Cliches are clichés because more often than not they are true. ‘Opportunity doesn’t knock twice’ fits that bill.  What are you doing to prepare for the chance to reach your goals?  Are you nervous about big presentations or meeting with your boss or a key client?  How do you respond to major deadlines or managing new people or projects?

 

Yo, his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

But on the surface he looks calm and ready

 

 

Some appear ready on the outside and hide their anxiety, while others can’t disguise their nervousness at all.  Lack of confidence can partially be attributed to not being ‘genuinely’ prepared. Putting the time in to prepare is not the same as actually preparing.

 

Ask yourself what could happen in the meeting or presentation and how you would respond.  If you are presenting to a group, your team, a client or your boss, practice for real—out loud and in front of a mirror or a loved one. Brainstorm with a trusted advisor about how to manage challenging subordinates.  Don’t just fall back on the easy, standard preparation tactics.

 

You better lose yourself in the music 

The moment you own it you better never let it go, oh

 

Be honest about your effort and approach. Do you truly make the commitment necessary? Or do you give just enough?  Do you worry about how your performance compares with others?  Or do you realize that your best is all that really matters because you can’t control anything else?  Focus on you and maximize the opportunity.

 

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow

Cuz opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo

 

Be genuinely prepared and truly give it your best…

 

You can do anything you set your mind to, man

 

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz

 

 

“Airplanes” – Sounds of Marketing

Airplanes- B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray(2010)

Listen while you read
or Watch it here

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now  

We are told to “wish upon a star” at an early age and continue dreaming throughout our lives. We dream of that promotion or pay raise and what we could do with the extra money. We wish our employees would do what we want them to do. We hope our clients will call and buy.

And when you’re starin’ at that phone in yo’ lap
And hopin’, but them people never call you back

Taking a passive, wishful approach won’t change the situation. Simply thinking about how things could be will lead to frustration at the first sign of difficulty.

And when your plans unravel in the sand
What would you wish for if you had one chance?

Unfortunately, many people just wish another wish, dream another dream or blame someone or something else. The good news is you still have a chance, regardless of what has happened to date, if you are willing to be honest with yourself.

But that’s just how the story unfolds
You get another hand
Soon after you fold

First decide on what really matters and what drives you. Do what you enjoy and believe in. Without passion, you’re going through the motions.

Somebody take me back to the days
Before this was a job
Before I got paid

Take the time to write (not just think) true personal and professional goals. Build a plan with specific tactics to get you where you want to go. Be clear and concise. It will take focus and deliberate practice.

I could really use a wish right now
Wish right now, wish right now

Actually, you could really use a plan right now: A plan that turns dreams into goals, details the skills to acquire and effort needed, includes milestones to reach on the way and a timeline to achieve your goals. Your plan based on your passion, on living and doing rather than wishing and dreaming.

 

If you have a song suggestion for Sounds of Marketing, please let us know by emailing SoundsOfMarketing@massolutions.biz


The “Not My Problem” Problem

When a new process is implemented, there are inevitable bumps in the road. Instead of taking a proactive approach to the challenge, many employees and middle managers ignore or avoid problems they perceive to be outside of their area.

If a customer isn’t completely satisfied, the front line response is often an excuse that shifts the responsibility elsewhere.

After hearing a new idea, many people only point out potential negatives or say nothing.

These and other examples make the ‘Not My Problem’ Problem one of the biggest roadblocks to positive change.

When you are acting as the change agent, remember it’s human nature to:

  • Seek the path of least resistance
  • Avoid incurring blame
  • Fear a loss of control or an increased workload resulting from a new process.

Also, keep in mind many key departments are responsible for keeping work flow moving, paying attention to details and avoiding mistakes. While this is essential to day to day operations, it creates a mindset of getting things done the same old way rather than focusing on new, creative ideas.

So when you are leading a change initiative what can you do to increase your chances for success?

First, find a leadership champion who has the formal or informal authority to gain broad support throughout the organization. Ideally, you would have a senior level sponsor of the new process or idea.

Next, communicate clearly and often. Create a sense of urgency among the troops by pointing out both what they stand to lose by standing pat and what will be gained by moving forward. Think beyond your immediate area to how other departments will be impacted. Acknowledge there could be some challenges for others during the transition.

Listen to constructive feedback but be firm with naysayers selfishly focusing only on the negatives. If you don’t hear from some people, a common mistake is to misperceive their silence as support of your idea. You need to probe to find out what they really think and flesh out potential roadblocks.

The ultimate goal is to achieve some level of buy-in throughout the organization and to have a comprehensive change management plan.

Hey, no problem…

 

David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.