February 11, 2018


The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs


In this issue of the 8020Info Water Cooler we look at a framework for using media in your marketing plans, tips on writing annual reports, a method to better manage organizational change, and thoughts on the illusion of knowledge. Enjoy!


1. Try the PESO Marketing Model

The four P’s (product, price, place, and promotion) have long served as a foundation for marketing. Add another P to your marketing strategy, for PESO.

It’s an acronym conceived by digital marketer Gini Dietrich to describe four ways to view the media at your disposal — “Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned”.

  • Paid: With this approach to media,  you buy distribution for an ad or other content. Marketing consultant Steve Robinson, on his Iterative Marketing site, says it’s reliable, fast if you pick the right medium, and scalable — if you spend more, you get more distribution. Negatives: It’s low trust (since people are skeptical of paid ads), expensive, and ephemeral (the impact fades when you stop advertising).
  • Earned: You share valuable content in exchange for exposure to an established authority’s audience, such as a story in the conventional media. It’s cost effective and authoritative, as the third party in effect is vouching for you and your message. However, this approach can be unreliable (you can never be sure of getting press mentions), expensive (as it requires a big PR effort), and hard to scale.
  • Shared Media: Social media is low cost and sharing has high trust as people trust their peers. But it’s unreliable —you can’t predict what people will share with others— and hard to scale.
  • Owned: This category covers content in media channels you own, such as your web site. It’s low risk and can be built into a long-term asset. But it can be slow, taking time to develop an audience, and needs to be integrated with the other three forms.

Consider PESO for your next review of your marketing and public relations efforts.


2. How to Write a Non-Profit Annual Report

Sometimes organizations produce annual reports by rote (and in a rush). On his blog, Eric Jacobson offers some tips, starting with determining the objectives of the report. Some possibilities:

  • To share your mission with a wide audience.
  • To show accountability, reporting on the organization’s work over the year.
  • To demonstrate accomplishments — explaining results and how you achieved them, rather than just listing activities you pursued.
  • To recognize important people and organizations, such as volunteers, donors, funders, and partners.
  • To generate new donations, retain donors and grow partnerships.

Take some time to think about your audience for the report. Often it includes donors, volunteers, community leaders, future board members, elected officials, or potential partners and grant funders.

He urges you to start preparing your report three to four months in advance and use a checklist of planning questions, including:

  • What will be our annual report’s theme?
  • What are our three major accomplishments/achievements for the past year?
  • What are our best stories to tell?
  • Will we distribute in print and/or online?
  • What time of year will we release our report?
  • Who will help prepare the report? Do we need to engage an external freelancer (for writing and/or design)? Who will write the executive director letter?
  • Are we gathering photos all year long so we have a good supply available?
  • Who will triple check the accuracy of reported financials and update the donor list?


3. Learn the Math of Profitability

Consultant Donald Cooper says most businesses don’t understand the math of profitability. “And it’s killing them,” he adds in his newsletter.

So here’s a quick lesson on ways to leverage your profitability:

  • Increasing prices by 5% — in most businesses, that would increase the bottom line by 50–80%. If you’re really good at what you do, most people would accept that level of price increase. Or perhaps a few product/service tweaks could justify it. If not, a smaller price increase may be possible.
  • Increasing sales volume by 5% —accomplished without extravagant discounting or advertising— should bump up profits by about a third. Consider what three or four things you could do spectacularly well that would turn customers into fans who boost sales by telling others about you.
  • A 5% reduction in expenses typically improves the bottom line by 20–25%. What three or four things could you do to operate more efficiently in each part of your business, without diluting the value to customers?

Consider these three options when looking to achieve a better bottom line.


4. Questions To Ask When Top Talent Leaves

Consultant Tim Sackett suggests that you ask these questions when top talent leaves your organization:

  • Was there anything I could have done to keep this person with our organization? If so, why wasn’t that done?
  • Did we ask this employee what it would take to keep them with us? What was the answer?
  • What would have had to take place to keep this employee with us? Was there anything the employee asked for to stay, but we couldn’t deliver?
  • Can we get this employee to return to us in future?
  • What was the “real” reason this employee left?


5. Zingers

  • Assess your projects: Is your organization overwhelmed by too many projects? Innovation coach Diana Kander says that, instead of saying yes or no to each idea, you should rate them on a scale of one to 10. Ask your team to create a list of criteria for scoring new opportunities. Factors could include costs, how many clients will be affected, and how much revenue will be generated. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • More than one right or wrong: In arithmetic, there is a right answer and everything else is wrong. But at work, entrepreneur Seth Godin notes, there may be plenty of creative and useful answers. There are also wrong answers, which tend to be selfish, lazy, too expensive, lacking in rigour, have significant side effects, or focus on the short-term when long-term is needed. (Source: Seth’s Blog)
  • What did you learn? Mark Nathan, CEO of software company Zipari, asks job candidates what they have learned from going through their interview process. He looks for how they communicate and a willingness to share their honest assessments. (Source: New York Times)
  • Engage the buyer as a user: Traditionally, brands have positioned their products in the minds of customers, but now they focus more on the lives of their customers. And in marketing, they now engage customers more as users rather than buyers — focusing more on post-purchase renewal and advocacy, and less on pre-purchase advertising. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • Learn from bad examples: Consultant Wally Bock advises us to write down what the person did, being descriptive and eliminating judgment words. Write down the logical result of what they did. Write down the emotional result of what they did — how you or others felt. Then write down how you would do it differently next time. (Source: Three Star Leadership)


6. Q&A With 8020Info:
    Kotter’s Rules on Change

Question:  We come up with bold strategies for organizational change, but often don’t follow through successfully. What can we do to improve our effectiveness?

8020Info Associate Matthew Wood responds:

This is a question we have been asked about a lot recently. What you’re noticing is common — 70% of all change projects fail in whole or in part! Some organizations invest substantial time and effort in developing a strong plan for change, just to watch it fail during implementation.

One of the enduring guides to change management comes from Dr. John Kotter, a field expert with extensive work on leadership and change. He outlines the process in his 8-step method:

The first three steps are important for creating a climate for change:

  • Establish a sense of urgency — this first step is essential to get the change process moving. Creating urgency must speak to both the heart and head. Be careful here, because either complacency or a “busy” but false semblance of urgency can kill change.
  • Create the guiding coalition — successful change projects require enabling leadership and support. This group should consist of a diverse many, not a limited few, supporters at many levels.
  • Develop a change vision — and ask: how will we define the initiatives needed to make our change vision a reality?

Kotter’s next three steps focus on engaging and enabling everyone involved:

  • Communicate the vision for buy-in — promotion of your vision must be constant, heartfelt and consistent. Be a broken record, and walk the talk — behave in ways consistent with your vision.
  • Empower broad-based action — project management is important, but alone it’s not enough for success. Changing culture and behaviour demands much more. Some good questions to ask here are: What barriers to change are you facing? And what features of your culture do you need to change?
  • Generate short-term wins — provide compelling evidence of progress immediately. Your short-term wins must be visible, unambiguous, and relevant proof points for the change, and be celebrated.

Kotter’s final two steps concentrate on the implementation and long-term success of change:

  • Never let up — Keep building on the early momentum, and don’t declare victory prematurely. Keep urgency top-of-mind, eliminate unnecessary, demoralizing work to free up time for change work, and continue learning from experience.
  • Incorporate change into the culture: Don’t be afraid to lose people — it’s OK if resisters leave during the change process. And to ensure long-term success, it’s imperative that you promote the right people — those aligned with the change.


7.  Around Our Water Cooler:
     Illusions of Knowledge

Clients frequently voice concerns about the risk of losing “corporate knowledge” as long-time staff retire or leave for other reasons. Such departures leave a shocking void in the team’s communal knowledge — an effect that might be compared to having an “organizational stroke”.

In The Knowledge Illusion, cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach note that we make decisions under false assumptions about how much knowledge we have at our personal command. It’s not so much as we might think.

Typically, when put to the test, we discover we have only a basic, high-level grasp of a subject — for example, even with everyday items like a pen or toilet, could we explain how they work?  How much do we really know about them?

In daily practice, our intelligence is distributed across a communal network that we rely on, almost unconsciously, to inform our decisions.  We constantly draw on knowledge stored “outside our heads” — that is, with other people, in documents, materials, technology and tools, even embedded in the design of routine procedures and in our environment.

This means we need continuity strategies to help preserve the organization’s deep expertise before impending staff turnover shatters our illusion of knowledge.


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8020Info helps strategy teams think better together as they develop and effectively implement research / stakeholder consultations, strategic plans, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8.  Closing Thought 

“Anybody who doesn’t change their mind a lot is dramatically underestimating the complexity of the world we live in.”

— Jeff Bezos