Category Archives: Productivity

Resolve for a Better Business in 2015

How’s that new year’s resolution going? Many of us are on our annual quests to better ourselves through resolutions. Seven days in… cut extra spending? Still exercising? Seven days without a cigarette? Keeping up with your read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program?

New-Year_Resolutions_list

What about our business? While we’re spending time reflecting on how to turn over a new leaf personally, perhaps we spend time considering resolutions for our business. In 2015, how can our business:

Lose Weight / Save Money… how can we run a more efficient operation? If there’s one way to trim the fat, perhaps that could mean cost savings. As the employees. As they work day to day, they probably have an idea or two.

Be Smarter… are you investing in continuing education for you and your employees? Resolve now to allow for every staff member to attend a seminar or conference this year to help them gain insights and work smarter this year.

Spend More Time With Friends/Family… how can you reconnect with a lost customer? How can your sales staff keep in touch with clients better. It’s said it takes six “touches” to keep your business top of mind. Plan now how what those six touches will be this year.

Those are the most popular resolutions. How about these additional six for your business this year:

Improve Customer Service… businesses can ALWAYS be working on improving their customer service. Here’s some tips to consider.

Be Friendlier… perhaps this falls under improving customer service, but make 2015 the year the staff greets customers more cheerfully, remembers names, or heck, just smiles more.

Operate with Honesty and Integrity… not suggesting you’re not today, but do you always follow through on your promises? When a customer calls to get information or complain, do you answer honestly? Gain trust in staff and customers. Be the company of integrity.

Improve One Thing This Year… Is that product long overdue for a new feature? Could the store front be given a freshener? Website need updated? Is it mobile friendly? Could there be an easier way for your customers to pay you?

What are your ideas for a “business resolution”? I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. I’m sure there are more than the nine I thought of while on the elliptical. Yep, I have about 20 pounds I could loose!

Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

Kansas Tourism Conference Summary

Tourism-Conference-logo-2013

The Kansas Tourism Conference theme was Capitalizing on Tourism.  (The conference was held in the Kansas capital Topeka.)  The sub-theme might as well have been Getting Back to Basics.  Roger Brooks opened the conference with a two-part full morning general session sharing Deadly Sins and the New Age of Tourism, Jerry Henry provided guidance on doing research on a shoestring budget, representatives from the state revenue office gave a transient guest (hotel/motel/bed) tax 101, and the state tourism office shared their research and strategy the next fiscal year.

No fireworks.  No glamour.  “Just” a back to basic conference packed with information.  The top nuggets are offered in this month’s 5 in Five:

1. Arguably Roger Brooks’ key takeaway was the command to “jettison the generic”.   All too often we want to present our destinations as attractive to every audience – young, old, rich, poor, family, single, etc.  What we wind up with is a very generic ad that doesn’t attract anyone.  While he didn’t present them, I reflected on Roger’s 40 Overused Words and Phrases to Avoid in Destination Marketing.  Review the list here and then count how many of them are in your ads and publications.

2. Roger suggested 80% of people use the internet before they buy.  While I have seen that number as low as 60% and as high as 95%, regardless it’s a reminder that consumers are using the internet more and more.  Based on that, Roger suggests 45% of a destination marketing budget should be spent on the web/digital/social.  (In case you’re wondering about the other 55% – 20, PR/media; 20, traditional advertising; 10 collateral; and 5 outdoor or trade shows.)

3. Did you know 70% of all spending takes place after 6pm?  I’ve never heard this but Roger sharing it opened a lot of eyes and changed a lot of paradigms as we were challenged to thing about how we should create – or reschedule – events to after 5pm.  Sure it means retail outlets and workers of the events don’t get home to 9pm or later, but want to attract the most spenders?  Start after 5pm.  Our communities’ farmer’s markets are Wednesday mornings.  Yep, a lot of people working at that time.

4. Clearly a testament to the quality of Roger Brook’s presentations when four of the five aha’s are from him, but I appreciated when he stated cities and towns should not hang their hat on a festival or event.  What about the other 364 days (or 51 weekends) of the year?  I reflected on a time I was driving to a meeting in beautiful southwest Oklahoma.  Outside Idabel was a billboard welcoming travelers to the Home of the Dogwood Festival.  The festival is the first Saturday of April.  I was passing through weeks after.  I instantly thought “there isn’t any other reason to visit for the next 50 weeks!?”  (When in fact there is a lot to do in Idabel and McCurtain County.)

5. The last takeaway isn’t going to help your marketing plan or provide any ROI.  It’s merely professional development.  Developer Jack DeBoer welcomed the attendees at the Statehouse and provided sage advise from his book Risk Only Money.  The best was he shared if he had it to do all over again, he would listen more.

Thanks for reading.

That’s It! I’m Getting Organized!

I’m writing this 10 days after I was supposed to post it. (“5 at 5” means five things posted or shared on the 5th day of each month.) On the 5th, I left the office with more than 1,100 emails in my in box, 7 voice mails, 3 months of reports to be compiled, and a report for the Chamber left undone. How can I even leave and enjoy the weekend with no sense of accomplishment!? Let alone be prepared for the 950 things next week!? 950?

Liz Davenport says the average businessperson receives 190 pieces of information each day. (and that was in 2001. I’m sure it’s increased! Plus I wonder if that includes the spams for Russian women and Dr. Oz pills or not!?) AskMen.com stated it clearly, “the world is moving fast and it’s only getting faster. So much technology. So much information. So much to understand, to think about, to react to. Never before has it been so important to be grounded and intentional and to know what’s important.”

Another emphasized “if you don’t have a system in place for getting things done, you’re likely losing a lot of productive time to repetitiveness and inefficiency.”

Add to those 190 pieces the fact that “the average businessperson wastes 150 hours each year looking for stuff. Add 10 more hours and that is an entire work month!” Think about this “if you got organized, you could have an extra month each year! Just think how much more you could accomplish (or how much vacation you could have) if you got organized. You could take a three-day weekend every other week and still do as much as you are doing now – or more!”

So there’s got to be help out there. Search the internet for ‘organization’, you get 264 million results! ‘Organization at work’ narrows it down to 136 million. ‘Getting things done’ down to 55 million. Just look for a book… Search Amazon and 108,000 suggestions appear for ‘organization at work’. Time management, productivity, manage your schedule, reclaim that desk, organize your week, eat that frog!

There are 10 tricks, 13 steps, and 50 tips. I found the 5 second rule on YouTube. Oddly it took 3:45 seconds to explain the 5 second rule which is “Count to five and do the task.”

Maybe friends have suggestions. I asked Facebook friends for their tips. To-do lists was the repeated answer. My sister posted, “(I) read once to categorize the day’s ‘to-do’ list into 3 categories: like easy, medium, hard or must-do, like-to-do, and won’t-die-if-waits-until-tomorrow. That way each day you get to check off lots of ‘done’ things -feeling good- and have manageable expectations for what you have to do and can do. It really works for me. The tomorrow list makes me look far in advance and as things move up to the today’s category, I can track my time requirements.”

Amanda’s variation on that is to “block off time on (her) calendar for hot or time intensive projects; group a bunch of small tasks to tackle in one sitting–makes you feel really accomplished when you cross them off!”

Nichole keeps a small white board on her desk l for daily to do’s, that way she gets to erase the line when it is done.

Here are additional tips on the to-do list:

— Create a daily to-do list at the start or end of each day. Make sure it contains single-step tasks, not projects. “Call Bob” is a to-do. “Develop Marketing Plan” is a project.

— Keep a master project list (“Develop Marketing Plan”) but have the to-do list made up of all multi-step tasks you want or need to do. In other words, make your to-do list pebbles. Break it into tiny pieces of the mountainous job writing down only tasks you can accomplish in 24 hours. “File my taxes” vs. “get my receipts out and put them on the table.”

— Run An Assessment – does every item on the to-do list deserve to be on the list?

— Focus on Value and Outcome – identify the true value of the task. Is it really worth it? What will you get by completing it? Focus on outcome not on the task its-self. If you’re really truly passionate about the task, then the result should inspire and motivate you to get it done.

— In prioritizing, ask who’s task is on your list? Are we prioritizing other people’s most important tasks or ours? Additionally we may set ourselves tasks that we don’t really believe in and that have little value to us and then wonder why we never end up getting those things done!

— Write down your to-do’s as soon as they pop into your head. Keep small note pads and pens handy — in your office, briefcase, wallet, and purse. Regularly collect the pages from your note pads and add them to your to-do list or master project list.

It’s that last part that I miss! I wind up with stacks of pages from 5×7 legal pads, sticky notes and napkins with to-dos written all over them!

What are your tips? Comment below. This subject will continue in future posts… more on getting things done in subsequent months.

Thanks for reading!

44 Marketing Tips, Trends and more for 2012

Here we go… 44 tips, trends, initiatives to consider if you are going to move some dials in 2012.  Full disclosure – they’re not mine.  I’ve gathered them.  You employ them and watch this year rock!

2012 Successfull Website Checklist… 11 things to consider for that website of yours.  (I don’t even ask if you have a website.  If you don’t, quit now.  Seriously, just quit.)  Content, media, social, calls to action, and mobile.  Take a gander at the list and get with your webmaster.

6 Important Marketing Trends to Watch in 2012… Maybe not the most groundbreaking of list but then again, the simple reminders that “photos are the thing” and “creativity is the center stage” are maybe just the reminders we need to get us out of a rut.  Those 6 are here.

5 Marketing Trends to Ask to Grow Your Business… Sometimes a little reflection is needed.  “What did my marketing dollars do to grow my business?”  “How focused were my efforts?”  And “What programs did I add that made an impact?”  Stop.  Reflect and consider what lessons might be learned THEN move forward!  Those questions are here.

10 Digital Trends Set to Go Mass Market in 2012… It is about working smarter.  Defining your inner circle, personalizing your news feeds beyond RSS feeds, utilizing clouds, geo-tags and location-based discovery.  How might these 10 trends affect or assist what we’re doing?

12 Marketing Predictions for 2012… We just got on Facebook.  We finally are sending e-newsletters.  Now we need to integrate the two?  Are customers will be a part of our marketing team?  More on location-based marketing… the predictions are on MarketingProfs.com but if you don’t want to register, grab a PDF of the article here 12 Marketing Predictions For 2012.

Good luck going through things!  Here’s to a great 2012!  Thanks for reading!

Another Cliche New Year Read

Well not really.  New Year.  Resolutions.  Blah.  Blah.  Yuckity yuck.
 
I don’t make resolutions.  Heck, I’ve already had a soda this year.  (More than one if you count Dr. Pepper 10.)  I’ve gone a day without kissing my wife and left the office without addressing all the new emails in my inbox.  I know by January 2 or 3 resolutions are by the way side.
 
But then again I’m reminded that really the problem is we come out of the blocks January 1 in a sprint when this whole new/better you thing is a marathon over the year.  And it’s okay to stumble out of the blocks just so long as we keep going!
 
Here’s thoughts on how your entire year can be better.  Not just the first week or so.
 

Learn More… What book are you going to read this year?  And not a teen supernatural fiction.  One that is going to help you in your profession.  I have 14 identified that I want to read.  This year I’m gonna read one of them.  First up is Getting Things Done by David Allen.  Others that peak my interest are Destination Marketing Organizations Bridging Theory and Practice by Steven PikeMarketing in Leisure and Tourism by Patricia Click Janes  and Marketing Outrageously by John Spolestra.  I’ll put the entire list on my website.

There’s also tons of research and you don’t really need to dig for it (or pay).  It comes to your inbox.  US Travel Association sends a weekly news brief.  Every other issue or so has a story on research, trends or an industry study.  I also like Lou Taverna’s Hospitality Newsmaker Alert.  Again, periodic research or trends.  The third I like is TripInfo.com’s Internet Travel Monitor.  The Marketing & Research and Technology Bits are great!

Relate More… That thing in your hand does something really cool and it’s not Angry Birds.  It allows you to talk to someone miles away.  Hear their voice.  Laugh with them.  Pick up the phone and call someone once a week.  Not just old friends too.  When was the last time you went out to eat with the Chamber person, City Council rep, Parks and Recs Director?  Don’t get complacent about those relationships.

Work Smarter… I’ve started on David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  I’ve completed Order From Chaos and am trying to implement Liz Davenport’s cockpit system.  Hopefully I’ll get more things ticked off my to-do list and not have so many small pieces of paper lying around with scribbles on them.

Stress Less… Really it starts with exercise.  I’m not talking running a marathon.  Simple stress reducing exercises that relax muscles, gives you a feeling of happiness, reduces pent up frustrations, and takes your mind off of problems.  On top of all that, you’ll look better and have more energy too!  Energy to stay up late cleaning out the email inbox.

Believe More… Just tonight the Bible story I read my 4-year-old reminded us that He provides food for the birds and clothes for flowers.  Aren’t you more valuable than they?  “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well!”

Here’s to a great 2012!  Thanks for reading!

Downburst Aftermath

I darn near cried as I called our building’s owner to tell her a downburst took off a third of our roof and ensuing rains damaged 10 of our 13 offices/rooms. Calls to my Board chair and staff were more composed but difficult to share that our office was completely ruined.

What do you do? BBAs, MBAs, CDMEs, CSEEs and countless state tourism conferences don’t prepare you for this. You’re a marketing or sales person. Not a disaster specialist. While Steve Perry and Butch Spyridon could probably share much more as a result of Katrina hitting New Orleans and flood waters overtaking Nashville, these simple thoughts on dealing with a disaster are this month’s Five at 5:

You won’t do anything… meaning you won’t do any regular things for at least two weeks ’cause you’re dealing with insurance, adjusters, disaster specialists, landlords, and board members. Then there’s the interested parties that drop by that you be kind to and give tours. (Maybe I was just too kind.)

That being said…

Get up and running… nothing will help “ease the pain” better than getting back to work. I had personal emails for all the staff (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) so I was able to communicate longer messages than text would allow. We had updated our computers to laptops with wireless capabilities. Now they didn’t need an office. And having recently switched our CRM to iDSS, sales was able to access everything since iDSS is a web based program. Cell phone and laptop, you’re in business!

Document everything… you can’t take enough pictures. I bought an SD card specifically for this disaster so as to not loose a picture. One appraiser appreciated the ease of transferring the pics that way instead of me emailing dozens of pictures. And receipts are your best friend! Anything you purchase and remotely hope to get reimbursed for needs to have a receipt.

Move once… I heard this over and over and over again as we considered our options of a temporary space vs. a permanent move. If you serve as a welcome center especially, the last thing you want to do is say, “We’ve moved to 123 Elm” and then six to nine months later direct visitors to yet another address.

Keep your Board up to date… I’ve received compliments from Board members about how much information I’ve shared. Regular emails detailing the damage, what insurance is doing, where I’ve looked for new space, pros and cons of one space over the other, the fact that staff is still working, etc. While they may not respond, they do what to know what is going on and I believe it’s brought one or two members closer to the DMO and staff.

Naturally the best hope is you never have to go through something like this but if you do, this might have sparked a few thoughts to help navigate through a similar experience. You get through it and it’s a great learning experience. Not one I wanted to learn in the midst of launching a website, staff changes, preparing for our annual luncheon, launching a hospitality training program and…

Feel free to leave your suggestions or comments below. Thanks for reading!

Too Eager Out of the Gate

A friend and colleague, Craig Molitor, recently landed the Fond Du Lac, WI, CVB gig. As I emailed congratulations, I was completing my first year review. Naturally my mind started thinking of all the changes I would have made that first year and, if asked, what I would advise Craig or any other colleague starting their first year at the helms of a DMO.

I fear the first trap we first year execs fall into is the “we-need-to-change-everything” trap. Sure, there are probably some things that need changed. I inherited a bureau that was using three different logos and many different communication styles. Additionally we were not a part of the greater community. That had to change. But often no change is needed. Instead five simple steps the first year on the job – July’s Five @ 5:

1. Meet, meet, and meet – You had better get a membership to the Y or a new pair of running shoes ’cause if you’re doing it right that first year, you’re eating breakfast and lunch with someone every day. Hoteliers, attractions, Mayor, City Councilmembers, City Manager and department managers, business leaders, the Chamber and ED execs, sports clubs, University President and department heads… and that’s the first month.

2. Listen – it’s not enough to just meet with all of those community leaders, but listen. They may actually have a great idea. “Something I always wanted to share with the CVB…”, “Something that was really successful years ago but then just dropped…”, “What (your predecessor) did real well was…” You’ll miss some real good advise or promotions if all you are thinking is “what can I share from my resume to impress them?”

3. Read everything – Your predecessor may have had a great marketing plan. No sense ‘fixing what wasn’t broken’. By-laws, research, contracts, research, visitor guides, research, history books research, board minutes, oh, and if there’s any recent research on your community, visitor profiles, etc., peruse it. (If not, call someone and have some done. Then read it!)

4. Set Goals – Quite frankly, they can be very modest goals but set goals. I didn’t set any goals and at times I truly wondered what I was targeting. I knew we were getting some stuff done but hadn’t prioritized. What needs reviewed? What is fully functional and doesn’t need looked at? Which employee needs guidance and which one should I leave alone?

5. Check the Attitude – Harsh I know but first, you got the job! You don’t need to impress anyone any more. Secondly, your predecessor may have left in good graces! You aren’t coming in to ‘clean up a mess’ ’cause he/she may not have left a mess. And finally, you’ll be appreciated for what you show a year from now or 18-months from now. Again, you don’t HAVE to change anything just to say ‘I’m the new sheriff’.

If you’re 15, 20, 25 years on the job, the above can still apply. When’s the last time you sat down with everyone to chat and listen? Do you still read new things or ‘just know it’? And maybe everything is still working and you don’t have to change anything ’cause it’s been used for a long time.

(Originally posted July 2010)