Author Archives: Matt Milstead

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Wow Clients with an Amazing Corporate Event

Planning a corporate event can be a time consuming and stressful task. Figuring out a budget, location, guest list and guest speakers can feel a little overwhelming and intimidating. Get a few ideas of corporate events that have worked for other companies.

1. Special Guest Speaker

Depending on what type of company you are involved with, you might want to hire or ask a special guest to speak to a room of clients. To draw interest your guest should be someone of interest—or at least someone you can create some mystery around. If you work in technology security, hire a hacker to speak to your clients about the types of threats that their businesses might face. Find a guest speaker who is able to convey a message about your company while entertaining the crowd at the same time.

2. Corporate Retreat

People love getting out of town and any excuse to get away from the confines of the city will help draw a crowd to your corporate event. Choose an overnight retreat that complies with your company’s brand and your mission. If you are a local wholesaler of foods designed for spas, choose a spa that will let you display your products on the shelves. Or, ask the spa to serve your food at mealtimes. You’ll probably need to provide free food, but you might get a discount on the retreat if the spa doesn’t need to provide food.

3. Host a Fundraiser

Show your customers you have a heart of gold by hosting a fundraiser. Find a cause that is important to you or your company. Perhaps one of your employees has discovered she has Multiple Sclerosis? Host an event to raise awareness (and money) for the cause. Display your products at the event and tell guests that a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to your cause. You can even go so far as to tell guests that for a select amount of dates, a percentage of the proceeds of your product will be donated to your cause. Customers will feel even better about your product—and they’ll feel swanky after they’re invited to a benefit.

4. Get Outdoors

Not every corporate event needs to be an expensive endeavor. You can wow your clients by simply getting them in a new environment. Host a camping event or a day hike if you want to save money on your retreat. Or, give them a day of zip lining, snorkeling, ATV riding or Frisbee golfing. Getting people out of the boardroom or office and into the wilderness opens up their minds and allows them to drop their defenses. They will be much more open to hiring your company or buying your product.

5. Online Classes and Webinars

You don’t need to be in person to impress your colleagues and clients. If you have funds to host a guest speaker or a guest teacher, host an online class or webinar. Your clients and employees will learn about an overarching task (how can big data help your company) while promoting your product (use our data graphs to help understand big data output). Obviously, the more relevant the class and the more well-known the teacher, the bigger your turnout will be. Offer a class for free that is usually extremely pricey or difficult to take—as long as your clients download a free trial of your product.

6. Rent a Function Room

If all else fails, throw a party. People love parties and they love getting invitations to elite invite-only parties. Try drawing customers in by offering a “play hooky” party and choose the location wisely .Rent a function room at a local center and throw a party at two or three in the afternoon where you ask your clients to ditch work for a few hours. Offer “play hooky” cocktails, wine and beer—and plenty of bar food to soak up the alcohol.

In renting a function room, you can have the entire event catered or you can provide the food yourself. The center can set up the room anyway you’d like, whether it’s a dining room, theater or cabaret-style set up, you can choose the format that works best for your theme.

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Traditional Business Promotion – Does it Still Work?

What is the best way for a business to promote itself and its goods and services in the 21st century?

Many entrepreneurs would be quick to point out that online advertising, a content-rich website and an electronic newsletter are the answers. Those things are a valuable part of any company’s public relations arsenal. However, it’s shortsighted to overlook the importance of promotional gifts as a means of reminding customers of the existence of your company and what it does.

The concept of promotional gifts is nothing new. Companies have been sponsoring giveaways or offering free items for decades to generate word of mouth. It is a time-tested technique for prompting existing customers to call again and for enticing new clients. Even in this age of digital, online everything, a concrete, tangible reminder of your company can go a long way toward ensuring success.

Promotional gifts work because everyone loves getting something for free. Whether it’s a pen, a bag, a t-shirt or something else, most people can’t resist the allure of receiving something for nothing. It’s all the better if it’s a useful item that the potential customer reaches for on a daily or weekly basis. When they do, they are going to see your company’s logo. Then, they are going to associate the good feelings that come with getting a gift with your organisation. Before too long, they’ll probably be calling to bring new business your way. That’s the kind of association that any growing company needs.

So what makes a great promotional gift? The reality is that such presents could be just about anything. Classic items include pens and stationery. Companies have also been known to give away umbrellas, piggy banks, ball caps, drinking glasses, calendars and tote bags. Regardless of what the item is, it is imperative that your company’s name, logo and contact information are prominently placed. A promotional gift that has just one of these elements is not going to hit the mark. After all, what’s the use of a drinking glass that features your company’s logo but doesn’t also provide a phone number or email address? Your potential customer will be forced to find other methods to get your contact info, and he may find it’s easier just to call your competitor because that’s who he used last time.

Most promotional gifts are small and easily portable. This makes it possible to bring them to conventions and trade shows where you can generate a lot of buzz just by handing them out to people who stop by your company’s booth. Other convention attendees are bound to spot the great gifts that other people are carrying around and want to know where they came from. That brings even more people to your booth. Before you know it, you’ve made dozens of new contacts. Not all of them are going to generate a sale, but a solid number of them will, and many of those may turn into long-lasting relationships.

In fact, promotional gifts are a wonderful way to build relationships that continue for years. When your company is courting a big new client, it may make sense to send them a thoughtful gift. If you’re in the food industry, perhaps you’ll send a gorgeous wooden cutting board that is embossed with your company’s information while a vintner might send a waiter’s key corkscrew. These next-level promotional gifts will help foster a positive feeling between your customer and your company.

If you want to make a real connection with potential clients and cement relationships with existing customers, then promotional gifts are definitely the way to go.

Ways Project Managers Can Benefit From Lean

"LEAN" (quality process improvement efficiency)
Lean is a systemic business method for waste elimination. It first originated in Japan in the eighties, but has roots dating back to the Ford production line and Fayol’s principles of management. It has since gained global acceptance and popularity in the business world. Implementing Lean is a sure fire way of boosting profits as it directly affects employee productivity and enables business owners to utilize their full business potential. In a nutshell, Lean brings processes that add value to the forefront by reducing everything else. Here are some of the many ways your business can benefit from Lean training.

Quality Improvement and Fewer Defects

Lean simplifies the production process by eliminating lot and batch production, and by doing so, it minimizes the opportunity for defects. This single-piece flow technology means that if a defect does occur, it will only affect the one part. In doing so, a lot of time is saved, that would otherwise be needed to isolate and test other material in the same production line, in order to make sure it is up to par. After a defect is caught, mistake proofing methods come into play that strengthen the production process and prevent recurrence; in turn, improving quality.

Visual Management

The second benefit of Lean manufacturing and management is a method called Management by Sight. When implemented correctly, Lean enables you to evaluate and gage the progress and state of an entire area of your plant, with a simple visual scan. Errors and abnormalities will clearly stand out and can be quickly and easily identified. Creating a visual workplace will forever change your business for the better. It will enable you to know exactly what is going on, in real time. Reorganizing the work environment, this way, also improves employee safety.

Less Manpower

As Lean boosts process efficiency and creates standardized work, one of its major benefits is the ability to do more, with a smaller work force. However, this in no way means that you have to let go of the now redundant workforce. The principles of Lean dictate that these employees can be effectively utilized to perform continuous improvements, be trained to enhance their skill level, or be assigned maintenance of the system upon its implementation..

Full Company Involvement

Lean is meant to be implemented across the whole organization, not just in one specific area. It is a holistic management philosophy that works only if every part of your organization is involved. This goes a long way in promoting the concept that every employee in the company is part of the team.

Managing Made Easier

Lean makes sure that each employee knows which tasks need to be performed by providing standardized and easy to understand workflow instructions. This makes management a whole lot easier. When problems do arise, they will be significantly easier to deal with as the new team environment encourages support groups to work together in problem solving activities.

Boosting Employee Morale

This final benefit has a tendency to not be immediately apparent, as every change in a routined business environment encounters some resistance, in various forms. Lean makes the transition of change feel natural, thus eliminating the stress related to it. By involving and empowering your employees to make tangible and profitable changes to their everyday tasks, they will gain confidence and feel like a valid and contributing team factor. Lean reduces uncertainty and ambiguity in the workplace, which in turn boosts morale by lowering stress levels and insecurities.

There are immense and sustainable managerial and productive benefits to be reaped from implementing Lean. If you ensure that Lean mentality is integrated into the very culture of your business, you will create an environment that minimizes waste while maximizing productivity and profits. Investing in Lean training, regardless of the type (from Introduction, Lean Champion to SMED),  will pay dividends, as your business will become far more competitive, both in the effectiveness of the services you provide and in the prices that you will be able to charge. This ensures a secure foundation for growth and development. .

 

How to Start a Consulting Business

business-consultantFor independently minded entrepreneurs, consulting can be a lucrative career limited only by ambition and skill. Typically, consultants are hired by companies to advise them on any number of issues such as finances, advertising or communications, and technological improvements have made it easier than ever before for clients and consultants to share ideas. Rather than placing your future in the hands of a single company, a consulting business allows you to take control, work with whomever you choose and decide your own rates and terms.


On the other hand, consulting also requires motivation and an outgoing personality, as well as the ability to work without the structure of a fixed employer. Starting a consulting career takes little more than a computer and some expertise, but turning that business into a success demands dedication and tenacity. These are the six basic steps to creating a consulting service that will withstand the test of time.

Should You Become a Consultant?

Before starting any new endeavor, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you are suited for the career in question. Consultants must be able to manage their time effectively, network with other professionals and have enough resources to devote themselves to a fledgling business. They rarely have the luxury of being handed work and must actively pursue new leads or face dry spells with little or no income. It also helps to be an expert in a field; no one wants to hire a consultant who makes problems worse or accomplishes nothing at all.

Find a Market

The best pumpkin-growing consultant around is still going to have trouble keeping his business afloat; the market simply is not there to support a full-time career. Prospective consultants must appraise the demand for services in their area and decide if it is enough to offset the risk inherent in striking out on their own. Create a profile of your ideal client. Is it a large business or small? What can it gain by working with you? Search local directories to begin creating a list of potential clients to approach once you are operational.


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Research

If you have decided that you can make it as a consultant, look into others in your industry to learn the practices and fees of established firms. Ensure that you are familiar with all of the latest trends and tools, and check local regulations regarding certifications. It may prove beneficial to acquire certifications for display, whether or not they are mandated by law.

Determine Scale

Most consultants start out working alone or with a partner. This reduces initial investments, but it will eventually prove beneficial to move into a management position while delegating mundane tasks to employees. Employees, however, expect salaries and may not be feasible during your first few years. Similarly, a professional serviced office is expensive but also more impressive and organized than an office based from home. Unless you have the resources, it is better to begin small and develop long-term plans for later success.

Set Rates and Services

Determining how much to charge for a service can be intimidating for many new entrepreneurs. Balancing between losing money and losing clients is always precarious at best, and this is where your earlier research will pay off. Your goal is to manage expenses to remain competitive with other local consultants. If you cannot charge less, you must be able to offer more to win over businesses. Consultants usually work at an hourly rate or set estimates for whole projects. Some are kept on retainer by companies for a monthly salary, but this often comes with restrictions on other clients.

Reach Clients

Finally, when your consulting business is functional and ready to begin work, you must begin the constant task of finding and wooing clients. Advertisements, brochures and direct contact are some of the more effective methods to spread the word about your new business. With any luck, you will soon have your first customers. Be prompt, polite and always go the extra mile. A positive reputation is critical for sustained client turnover and will decide whether or not your consulting becomes a failed experiment or a thriving career.

Understanding your own talents and knowledge, whilst possessing the charisma and interpersonal skills to impart that knowledge is crucial to being a consultant. It’s worth remembering, however, that you’re only as good as the work you’ve done. As a consultant, your reputation is the greatest asset you have when discovering, approaching, and dealing with businesses.

Resources:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/41384

http://www.bizfilings.com/Libraries/pdfs/starting-consulting-business-guide.sflb.ashx

Corporate Videos and Social Networks

Video production
Corporate videos and social networks work together to make businesses successful. When videos become viral, a business is exposed to people around the world, which in turn brings more buyers, clients and customers.

A corporate video promotes a product or service by concentrating on making the video interesting to a wide audience. Viewers do not tend to click on or watch a boring video that compares different brands. They are more interested in listening to and watching a compelling narrative. Once you create such a video, your product can be mentioned at the end of it.

Grab the Viewer’s Attention

It is necessary to capture the attention of the viewer during the first five seconds of the video. The attention grabber can be created using music, dramatic introductions or other action scenes. Once you have caught the viewer’s attention, you will want to keep them interested. The video will need to create an emotional engagement by making them cry, laugh or even smile. Without the emotional engagement, the audience may become bored with the video before they watch it to the end.

Engage the Audience and Motivate them to Share

A corporate video that engages the audience will be one that people will want to share on social networks. These videos will be seen around the world by many people. Therefore, social networks are important for video marketing since more people can hear about the company’s services or products. This video with Van Damme by Volvo trucks is a good example of a promotional and corporate video. He is funny, interesting and has a story which keeps the viewer’s attention. It’s also a good example of a viral video – it has over 64 million views on YouTube.

Conjure Positive Emotions

A video that has a happy and surprising ending is one that entices people to share it with others. People do not want to share videos that are too graphic or explicit for fear of offending others. Therefore, the corporate video should be produced to make people feel good about the product, and it should include some laughter and fun for the viewer.

For a video to go viral, it should be short and it should be placed in the right location on the Internet. When it is seen by the right people, it will be shared on different social networks making it accessible to more people. For instance, you want to make sure that the video is seen by influential bloggers who love to tweet and share viral videos.

Video statistics

The 24 Hour Rule

The most crucial time for a video is during the first 24 hours. A video that is viewed and shared during the first 24 hours will dramatically increase the chances of the video becoming viral. People may watch the video. However, unless they share it, it will not go viral. When the video is shared on social networks, more people will see the video than a video that is just located on a certain site. For instance, on a social network site, you are seeing videos about the same thing shared over and over again. When you see the same video repeated, you are more prone to go check out the video on the original site. Then, you will want to share it with others on your page. Your video has now gone viral in a big way.

Make It Social

One of the main reasons every business should consider video marketing is that it’s a branding tool that will allow you to reach millions of people. Therefore, a corporate video must be social to reach the different networks of people. Some online music videos have had as many as a billion views, and what attracts so much attention to them is unusual music, and the anticipation of something surprising or fun. A promotional video created with the right intentions and using appropriate techniques can help make your company known to a much wider and more diverse audience. Needless to mention, a good video is one that will leave the viewers talking about it to others.

Video marketing has changed the way companies promote their businesses. A viral video can help a company grow in a unique and fun way. However, to make a promotional video go viral, you do need to incorporate a few things in the videos. For instance, it can be funny, unique, cute, outrageous or sad to influence others to share the video on social networking sites. People love to tweet, blog, email and post videos that touch them in some way. Therefore, social networks are the best way to market a video.