Managing to Grow
A SoftwareCEO Blog
Management strategies, tactics, answers and ideas for faster growth, higher profits and more control.
If you still think of LinkedIn as a job hunting / recruiting site or you think of it as just another social media network that doesn’t work for software company marketers, I’ve got news for you. Big changes have occurred. Did I say big? I meant HUGE.
Just look at these numbers. This info comes from a variety of sources including Neilson Online, UTM, Gartner, Forrester and LinkedIn itself.
A motherload of the right people
As LinkedIn has 200 million members and it’s estimated that a new person joins LinkedIn every second. Current members include:
- 2 million C-level executives
- 5.5 million technology managers
- 44,402 purchasing agents (as of this morning)
- Executives from all Fortune 500 companies
- 60% are either decision makers in their companies or have direct influence over key decisions related to product or service purchases.
- 88% of IT buyers use LinkedIn for professional use
“The biggest mistake you can make in content marketing is to not create any content.” –unknown
Funny how we marketing people can make things so much more complicated than they need to be. Content marketing is a great example.
If you’ve done any kind of research into content marketing best practices you know there are precise steps you should follow, beginning with creating comprehensive buyer personas, identifying the information needs of each persona at each stage of the buying cycle, plotting out how and when you’ll create content to meet each of these needs, pulling together your team and so on.
All of these are important activities – and you should do them at some point in the implementation of your content marketing program. But on the occasions when I’ve tried to follow a textbook process with my clients, we’ve gotten all bogged down. Reminds me of trying to get anything done fast at Lucent in the late 90s. Akkk!
Hello Software CEOs! It’s been a while since I last posted a blog article here so I don’t blame you if you have no idea who I am. I come to you with 25+ years of software marketing experience and my intent is to share what I’ve learned and continue to learn – strategies, tactics, shortcuts that actually get you more leads and help shorten the buying cycle. If you want to know more about me, please check me out on LinkedIn and let’s connect.
So, content marketing.
Unless you’ve been visiting off-planet for the last year or so, you’ve got to be aware of content marketing. It’s THE marketing buzzword, according to Google search trends, having recently surpassed “inbound marketing” and leaving “social media” in the dust.
Normally I caution against paying too much attention to buzzwords as they’re often just shiny objects that distract from the real purpose of marketing, which to me is getting you more business. But in the case of content marketing, it would be deadly to ignore this buzz.
Let’s talk about management teams. This is a topic I’m asked about a lot by founders and CEOs. The questions go like this:
• Who needs a management team?
• When is the right time to start building a management team?
• How do I put the right team in place?
• How do I know if my team is working?
• How do I build a great team?
You can call it an Executive Team, a Leadership Team (very “in” at the moment), a Senior Management Team, or if your company is small enough, just the management team. Whatever term you choose to use, this is your most important team in the long run. This is the group of people who will help you build your business.
The answer to the question “who needs a management team?” is anybody who wants more than a “lifestyle business”; anybody who wants to build a sustainable, growing company. Even lifestyle business owners reach a point where they need a team.
Recently I met with the founder of a 30-employee company that is struggling with dropping profits, missed deadlines and an increasing number of unhappy customers. He had spent a lot of time blaming unscrupulous competitors, rising costs, ineffective sales people and anything else that didn’t require him to take a close look at the way his company is being run. He was getting nowhere and called me him to help him find and fix the cause of his problems.
He looked blankly at one of my first suggestions: “Let’s look at your org chart”.
“We don’t have an org chart,” he said. “We’re too small for that stuff.”
I knew then I was on the right track.
Organization charts are a powerful tool for managing a company of any size. It can help the transition from you doing everything to you assigning responsibility for tactical actions to others.
By multiple accounts, increasing knowledge worker productivity is a priority for CEOs --just as it was, andand so on. Why not makethe year you actually do it?
There’s a simple yet powerful tool you can use to easily gain several productive hours per week per knowledge worker – week after week after week. I’m not kidding: two to three hours per employee per week.
Let’s call it a position contract. It’s like a job description only better. It will change the way you manage your people.
If you’re one of the many software CEOs whose company doesn’t have job descriptions, don’t stop reading! I know job descriptions seem boring and too “corporate”. I know you may think you’re too small for them. You’re not.
Here’s why position contracts (and job descriptions) are so powerful.
Success – as you already know – brings its own challenges. In the case of a growing software company, those challenges include a whole bunch of “mores”: more clients; more employees; more products; more distribution channels; more cash flow issues; more stuff to worry about.
These may be high-class challenges, but they’re very real. According to Verne Harnish in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, there are mathematical formulas for complexity that show as you grow from two products, employees or sites to four products, employees or sites, your complexity increases by a factor of 12.
Sooner or later, every growing company reaches the limits of its current way of doing business. Think of this as a rite of passage. When this happens, things begin to go strangely wrong. And that can get expensive.
Here are nine signs that your company may be pushing on or passed the limits of its current management capabilities:
Want to build your revenue and/or profits? Improve efficiencies and effectiveness? Increase customer retention? Get more add-on business from existing customers? Cut non-value expenses? Of course you do. We all do.
There’s a “secret” weapon that makes accomplishing the above not only possible but fast and inexpensive – even in this economy. It’s a great competitive advantage because it’s used by so few companies. I discovered it, implemented it, tested it and simplified it over 25+ years of working with more than 100 businesses. I didn’t make it up. I just use it. It’s called good management.
Don’t stop reading yet! I know enough software company owners to know the word “management” turns off a lot of people. It sounds boring. It sounds too corporate. It even sounds a little confusing.
But here’s what good management can do. (These are real examples.)
- Cost of sales reduced by 83%
How would you like to get more website visitors to clicks that Buy Now button - or Contact Me or Download our Latest Report, or Take a Product Tour. It�?s not hard to do with a little testing.
The examples I listed above are all calls to action. Not surprising, these are one of the most critical aspects of your website - anything that gets a visitor to do something that moves them farther along the path to becoming a paying customer.
Calls to action can be in the form of text links, buttons, images and just about anything else you can think of on a web page. How you present these calls to action has a big affect on how many people take the action. And you�?re not limited to just one type.
In addition to testing the type of link, you can test:
4 factors that affect your chances of converting website visitors
Have you ever wondered why website visitors are quick to take some actions and hesitant to take others?
The simple answer is people tend to take the path of least resistance unless or until they find something they want bad enough to take a detour. Then they decide whether or not it�?s worth it.
This goes for everything from taking a new route to work to changing beer brands to switching from a PC to a Mac. (The last of which I am struggling through right now for the second time).
The point is there�?s quite a lot of psychology at play in the minds of visitors on your website. If you understand the basics, it can help you structure calls-to-action that result in more people taking them.
I�?m not a psychologist, but students of marketing and persuasion �? of which I�?m a lifelong member �? tend to be exposed to plenty of anecdotal and scientific evidence that indicates there are several factors that strongly affect whether or not someone takes action.