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Remember - You Want A Result

Mar 12, 2008
At first glance this seems intuitive. In business results matter - if you don't get results you don't have a business.

It amazes me the number of businesses who do things without stopping to work out if they are getting a result. So here are 5 areas where businesses commonly do things and don't know if they are getting the right result.

1. Yellow Pages Ads

Yes, most people do them and they are amazingly expensive. But how many calls do you get over the lifetime of the ad. Do they convert to sales? Does the number of sales cover the cost of the ad? Does your on-line ad get click-throughs when you check your web statistics? If they aren't you may want to invest your money elsewhere.

2. Newspaper or other print advertising

If you were sold washing powder on the basis that "we know it won't clean your clothes the first few washes, but if you keep it up you may see an improvement over time. It really is important to have wash powder in your washing machine you know" how many of you would buy that brand of wash powder?

Yet many small businesses leap into very expensive newspaper ad campaigns and get absolutely zero results from the ad.

The ad salespeople have a vested interest in selling their ad space, so unless they can guarantee your results (and not just create brand awareness which is a euphemism for someone may recognise your logo if they see it again) then you may want to reconsider.

If they can't guarantee your results and if you are determined to give it a go - then code your response device in your ad so you can track where the response came from to see if you truly are getting outcomes.

3. Letterbox drops

With some businesses letterbox drops are very effective. Major retailers have trained consumers to check out their catalogue for bargains so they do quite well out of the campaign. But when was the last time you hired an accountant from a letterbox drop? Not all businesses are suited to letterbox campaigns. You are trying to get to people at the precise moment they are willing to buy as well as stand out from all of the other junk mail coming through.

If you are trying to sell to businesses and do a PO Box drop remember the office junior is often the person collecting and sorting the mail - usually with a brief to bin all junk mail. One of the most instructive things you can do is watch people collect their mail at a PO around about 8am-8.30am. Most open their PO box and walk straight to the conveniently located garbage bin to sort it. You have only a fraction of a second to not hit the bin.

If you do try a letterbox drop - what are your statistics in terms of number of boxes dropped to sales? Do the maths and make sure you are getting a return on your investment.

4. Employee performance

Employees are generally the highest cost to any business - but are they generating a return on your investment? Sure you may really like them and get on well, but if they are not generating sales, completing core income producing work or boosting productivity then you need to make an assessment.

With employees what is measured and rewarded gets done. Rewards can be tangible (bonuses) or intangible (praise and recognition). If you are not sure what you are currently rewarding in your workplace, look at what is being done and what is left undone. If you are unhappy with what you see - you need to change your reward strategy to reward the results you want to achieve.

5. Number and type of employees

Following on from this, many businesses grow and change over time and as a result you may have employees who have been with you for a very long time. I often see companies when they are planning a major change trying to do back-flips fitting everyone into the new picture - even when it is blatantly obvious that not everyone has the right skill set or availability to do the work that is now needed to get the results required.

While I truly appreciate where these businesses are coming from and celebrate their focus on their employees, sometimes I have even seen companies go bankrupt because they couldn't implement the changes they wanted or needed around their existing staff. As a result of their misplaced kindness, everyone lost including the business owners.

At least once a year I recommend going back over the position descriptions of each employee to make sure you have the right number of employees with the right skills doing the right jobs. If you don't then you either have to grow the skills of the people you have, hire in new skills or even consider redundancies (as unpleasant as they are).

It does no one any good if you look after their needs and lose your company a consequences.
About the Author
Ingrid Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter, Business Development and Human Resources Consultant to Small Businesses with her business Heart Harmony. Ingrid writes a free weekly small business newsletter and Small Business Ideas blog for small businesses.www.heartharmony.com.au
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