Vol.13 No.3 March-04-2013

March 3, 2013


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Goodbye Sales Funnel, Hello Purchase Loop

Traditionally, the funnel has been the reigning model for purchase behaviour. Just as ingredients flow smoothly through a funnel used in the kitchen or garage, the idea was that if you could find enough prospects for your sales funnel, many would eventually flow through to purchase your service or product, going through four stages: awareness, interest, desire, and action.

But on MarketingProfs.com, consultant Lenna Garibian reports on a new model, the Purchase Loop, which reflects how most consumers today move along a complex, non-linear pathway to their final purchase, with more steps taken over a shorter period of time.

Latitude Research found that today’s shopping is more personal and emotional, with an intense attachment to brands, yet at the same time 68% of respondents say shopping today “is less about the brand/products themselves and more about me (e.g. what I’m feeling or needing).”

The Purchase Loop, which is continuous, has six phases: 

  • Openness: Consumers are receptive to new or better experiences stemming from their pre-existing interests about a category or topic.
  • Realizing a want or need: Something acts as a catalyst giving the consumer a reason to start looking into things he or she wants or needs to do.
  • Learning and education: The consumer starts to understand the broad fundamentals about the experience, service or product category.
  • Seeking ideas and inspiration: The consumer looks for examples, thought-starters and motivators in order to take the next step.
  • Research and vetting: The options are compared, perhaps through reading reviews and checking for deals.
  • Post-purchase evaluation and expansion: The consumer shares with others and may enter additional purchase loops if satisfied.

2. How To Find Innovative Employees

If you’re searching for innovative new employees for your organization, consultant Geil Browning says on Inc.com it starts by studying the resume to see if it is creative, with writing that is metaphorical and playful, if not inspirational. Suggestive phrases would include “I am an idea person,” “I am a visionary,” or “I enjoy developing solutions that are fresh and new.”

But she also offers some interview questions that may reveal effective, innovative hires:

  • If you were to assemble a piece of furniture from the directions, how would you go about it? This will reveal thinking patterns, which are different for all of us.
  • When a deadline is a month away, how do you finish a project — and when? She says innovative thinkers will talk of searching for ideas and then taking a walk or pondering until a solution makes itself known.
  • How do you make important life decisions? Innovative thinkers will tend to base it on intuition.
  • What would you do if you showed up 10 minutes early for a meeting? The person might strike up a conversation with people or quietly prepare for the session. You’ll know which trait offers an appropriate balance at your workplace.
  • How would you respond if your manager suddenly changed your project? The applicant might immediately adapt to the new task or hold his or her ground. You can assess which fits your organization better at this time.

3. A Secret No One Tells New Managers

In the past three decades, consultant Wally Bock has asked participants in his courses what part of being managers they hate most. At the top of the list, always, is “talking to team members about poor performance.”

But on his Three Star Leadership Blog, he notes that the bottom line of being a manager — often never mentioned to new managers — is that the job involves getting people to change their behaviour or improve their performance. “Since nobody likes to be told that what they’re doing is wrong, confrontation will be an inevitable part of your job,” he says.

Small course corrections will increase your odds of success. The easier you make it for your team members to do what you want, the more likely they are to do it. When confrontations are necessary, limit them to a single issue and handle the matter privately.

4. Good Leaders Remember People’s Names

Whether in an office, a classroom, or a fitness class, good leaders learn the names of people around them, observes leadership development consultant Karin Hurt on her Let’s Grow Leaders Blog. Using a person’s name demonstrates that you care, reinforces that they matter as an individual, shows you are paying attention, makes them feel valued, and enhances your credibility.

She notes that often leaders laugh that off and say they are not good at remembering names. But it’s not a permanent genetic condition, and she suggests you work to improve, taking time to study the person’s face and using the name in the course of conversation to remember it.

5. Zingers

  • Idea Optimism:  Venture capitalist Tony Tjan says when someone gives you an idea, try to wait just 24 seconds before criticizing it. If you can do that, wait 24 minutes. To become what he calls a Zen master of optimism, you might wait 24 hours, taking the day to think about why something actually might work. (Source: New York Times)
  • Better Time Estimates: On your daily planner, mark each activity you get done for the day and the time spent on it. To improve your future estimates, review your chart at the end of each day and when planning your to-do list for the next day. (Source: DayTimer Blog)
  • Engage For Well-being:  New research by Gallup shows that employee engagement has more of an effect on employee well-being than vacation or flex-time policies do. So if you want employee well-being, improve employee engagement. (Source: Gallup Business Journal)
  • Choose With Purpose:  Sometimes you will face a choice between bigger or better. Like most choices, says entrepreneur Seth Godin, this one usually works better if you make it on purpose. (Source: Seth’s Blog)
  • Email Opening Times:  Emails are most likely to be opened at around 8am, 9am, 3pm, and 4pm, according to research by GetResponse. Click-throughs on promotions are most likely at 8am, 9am, 3pm, and 8pm. (Source: Entrepreneur.com)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:  Favourite Productivity Tools (2)

Question: What tools are on your main screen?

8020Info President and CEO Rob Wood replies:

In our last issue, Harvey Schachter offered some personal tips on his favourite productivity apps, responding to the question “What’s on your iPad main screen?” My focus will be more on some tools I’ve found useful in boosting productivity when working on my desktop. (Note, these are not professional evaluations, just an account of my own experiences.)

  • Snipping Tool is included as one of the accessories in Windows and you can capture screen shots of anything on your desktop. I tend to use it to capture key data from online pages or documents that I want to archive (like a receipt) but which don’t transfer easily without a lot of format-editing, or can’t be saved in its native format. It’s also great for doing a quick cut-and-paste of images to brighten a report.
  • My speech recognition software, Dragon Naturally Speaking, types as fast as I can talk — I only have to be careful to enunciate reasonably clearly. It works really well for routine emails. And although I’m a fast touch typist who just thinks the words and they come out of my fingers, I find DNS great for dictating content when referring to non-digital material or handwritten notes from meetings, brainstorming sessions or planning sessions. If you haven’t tried this dictation software in a few years, take a look — it’s ready to go out of the box.
  • Google Alerts is an established tool that saves me time monitoring online reports and media for news, commentary and name mentions on topics or organizations of interest. The same goes for similar tools offered by the New York Times, Globe and Mail and other news media.
  • In my experience, Smartdraw has been a great tool for fast, easy production of smart-looking organization charts, presentations, flowcharts, mind maps, Gantt and other project management charts, floor plans, diagrams and so on. It has a gazillion templates for various types of visuals, tailored for particular specialties. In a world where time is money, it has paid for itself many times over.
  • Dropbox and Basecamp are online tools we find clients using more and more — particularly collaborative workgroups, boards and creative teams. Dropbox hosts and synchronizes files online, making it easy to access large files or keep up with the latest version of a document. Basecamp is a classic web-based project-management tool developed by 37signals and launched in 2004. Use it to keep track of project discussions, files, and events all in one place.
  • There are many similar websites, but I tend to use morgueFile as my source for a database of free high-resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use. It’s great for finding royalty-free photos with subject releases and minimum restrictions (often just a photo credit). You’ll find it useful for giving your message more impact visually or brightening reports and presentations.
  • I would be remiss if I failed to mention Doodle, a free, easy-to-use scheduling tool. You propose potential dates and times; invited participants just fill in their names and check off which dates they can, may or can’t attend. The handy matrix/chart makes it simple to determine best times to schedule your meeting.

Given its widespread use and familiarity, Outlook Calendar (or whatever scheduling tool you use) may seem an odd choice to include on this productivity list. But it’s here for a critical reason — to-do lists fail so often because we have to manage time, not just a list of tasks or activities. When you schedule a task like a meeting, you automatically notice time jam-ups, have to determine priorities and make better use of your time.

7. News From Our Water Cooler:  What Boards Needs To Know

Some recent experiences have provided useful reminders that it’s important to have a clear understanding of what information a board needs to be effective.

In some organizations, staff spend enormous amounts of time producing data and reports for board members who, in turn, find it either overwhelming or, from their perspective, somewhat irrelevant. And operational metrics will sometimes lead directors to meddle in responsibilities more properly delegated to the CEO/senior staff.

At the other extreme, some directors find themselves trying to develop policy or make fundamental, strategic decisions in the absence of critical information. They have their own knowledge and perspectives, but need to know key insights, trends and developing issues from inside the organization.

Operational metrics for project management purposes are not the same as a high-level dashboard to help a board monitor progress, identify broad emerging issues or satisfy accountability requirements. Use them selectively to focus on the real drivers of overall success. Other types of material that are usually useful and interesting to directors may be used to help the board define organizational success, inform their leadership as champions, suggest new models and shape an adaptive path in an ever-evolving world.

We have found the amount and type of information that is “just right” for a board will vary from organization to organization — it’s something well worth discussing to clarify what will be most productive from both staff and board perspectives.

8. Closing Thought

 “A well-developed sense of humour is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”

— William Arthur Ward