Three Steps to Becoming an e-Commerce Thought Leader

3 steps to lead in e-commerceBecoming a thought leader in the B2B, B2C or C2C arenas will require focus on improving the overall e-commerce experience in three ways. You must, step-by-step, strive to become:

  1. The best people to shop with
  2. The best people to do business with
  3. The best people to work for

To be successful at the first two steps, you must make sure that your employees truly believe that you have achieved the third step. Companies have permeable walls through which such internal messages seep to the outside world. Any mismatch between your internal and external reputation as an e-commerce thought leader will destroy credibility.

Countless articles on this website address the fact that ”thought leadership begins at home.” If your own team members don’t believe that you and your company are

Your employees are also ”message multipliers” who take your viewpoints into the world.
thought leaders who excel in a given field, then you certainly won’t be able to convince external stakeholders you are.

Your employees are also ”message multipliers” who take your viewpoints into the world…the virtual or the real world. But you’ll need to remember to simplify the messages so that your staff can amplify the e-commerce messages you want to deliver.

Does your e-commerce thought-leadership approach need a refresh? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

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5 Actions for Leaders in the Golden Hour of a Crisis

fire exit signA recent article floating around the blogosphere focused on the “golden hours” of crisis communications. Those are the critical hours immediately following an event when information is incomplete but audiences are continuously seeking additional facts.

The article lists five steps as the “Grand Crisis Response Strategy” for covering those first stages of the crisis.

1. Stop the production of victims. Continuous victim production is what drives the media coverage, the public interest, the emotionalization, the commentary and criticism from 1000 sources and the reputation destruction.
2. Manage the victim dimension. This is what leaders and senior managers should be doing rather than hanging around and second-guessing the command center.
3. Communicate directly and frequently with employees, stakeholders, and those directly affected
4. Notify those indirectly affected, those who have a problem now because you have a problem; regulators, licensing authorities, neighbors, partners, those who need to know and who should hear from you very promptly.
5. Manage the self-appointed and the self-anointed; the news media and the new media, those who opt in on their own, the critics, the bellyachers, the backbench bickerers, the bloviators.

Are you prepared to make good use of that valuable time window? Ask, assess then act. We’re here to help!

Photo: Paul Harrison

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Social Media Risks – Real or Simply Managed

You’ve heard them all before – reasons why not to increase the scope and frequency of your company’s social media outreach.

crowd surfing and social media risks

Instead of sitting on the social media sidelines, ride with the crowd, manage the risk and reap the rewards.

The arguments usually include concerns that employees or consumers might abuse the channels and thereby put the company’s brand at risk. Other perceived threats are a loss of intellectual property as inappropriate news is posted in cyberspace or a drop in productivity among employees who are supposedly just checking the company’s social media sites.

Whether these are real or imagined risks, they can be simply managed by a robust, considered, enforceable social media strategy. Does your company have strong social media strategies and policies in place that manage these risks? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis

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Creating Crowd-ed Sidewalks

As a college student decades ago, I learned an important lesson about crowd-sourcing ideas that still applies to the world of business today.

Construction was ongoing at the time throughout the campus of my small university in the U.S. Midwest, Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri. Joplin is today best known for the unfortunate reason of being the place where the deadliest tornado in America struck on May 22 two years ago.

maps shows sidewalks following students natural paths

Well before concrete sidewalks were installed, students found and developed the natural path between buildings.
(View full map)

The part of the university campus I’m referring to here was not badly damaged in the tornado, so this map shows approximately where two buildings (numbers 14 and 17) were built in the 1970s and how the sidewalk connects them.

What happened when the buildings and sidewalk were built shows an early understanding of the value of crowd-sourcing an idea and channeling the wisdom of the masses.

Both of the buildings were built on a horseshoe-shaped commons area on campus. Rather than pouring concrete sidewalks between the facilities, the university let the students first make a footpath across the commons.

The students naturally found the shortest way to get from one place to another and over time wore a muddy path between the buildings. Then the university paved the sidewalk on top of the route that the students were already using. The unofficial shortcut then became the established direction for foot traffic.

Getting input from the end users of your ideas — by crowd-sourcing or cloud-sourcing the concepts — is an effective way to develop ”sticky” ideas before they are set in hard concrete.

Are you using the wisdom of crowds and clouds and stakeholders to find the best, most effective path forward? Ask, assess, then ask. We’re here to help!

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Call Me–No Maybe!

keep calm and call me maybeI’m too small–and too wise–to take on Big Tobacco by myself. So I will just comment on one specific, nefarious tactic being used right now as an advertising campaign in Switzerland. Billboards are warning young adults not about the dangers of smoking (except in the small font). Instead they’re encouraging them to smoke with four little words in very large type: ”Don’t Be a Maybe!”

”Maybe” is such a powerful word and now quite a trendy one, it seems. According to a recent New York Times article by Ben Sisario titled The New Rise of a Summer Hit: Tweet It Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy song ”Call Me Maybe” was the longest running hit of the year in 2012 and stayed in the Number 1 spot for nine weeks.

It also spawned a series of viral internet Maybe videos, like the Cookie Monster’s ”Share It Maybe” and the political spoof with excerpts from Obama’s speeches knit together so that he seems to be singing ”Call Me Maybe.” Finally, if you want to see a funny video from a trade organization, look at the American Water Works Association video “AWWA Call Me Maybe.”

Being a Maybe person in business isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe can give you time to think things through more thoroughly so that your final decision is better considered. Maybe can give your organization time to catch up with you and align with your thinking.

But Maybe can also do the opposite and that’s the risk. Too much hesitation or ”analysis paralysis” can allow doors to close behind you and options to be taken off the table.

Do you know whether Maybe is hurting or helping your organization? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help so call me — no maybe!

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Being a Social CEO – Do Keep Up! (Part 3)

reasons ceos don't use social media

Some of the reasons CEOs stay away from social media
(Full infographic is here.)

Right now, 70% of all Fortune 500 CEOs don’t have a presence on social networks. An estimated 16% of CEOs use social media to keep up with their customers currently, but that number is expected to jump to 57% in the next three to five years, according to an IBM survey published recently. See the survey results in infographic form or in a short video at the end of this post.

Another survey published on that site presented a finding that may make you want to be an early adopter and lead the way with social networking. Continue Reading…

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Meeting the Challenge of the Shareholders Meeting (Part 2)

shareholders and executive compensationArguably the most important event of the year so far in Switzerland took place earlier this month when Swiss voters passed the controversial referendum to impose unprecedented controls on executive pay. Even in this normally pro-business environment, more than 2/3 of the Swiss voters backed the proposal to let shareholders have their ”say on pay.”

The passing of the referendum means that Swiss company shareholders can veto bonus packages, as well as ”golden handshakes” when executives agree to join a company and ”golden handcuffs” when they exit, as compensation and a way to prevent them from working for a competitor.

Many Swiss companies are working on revised bonus schemes that incentivize executives while better aligning the interests of leaders with shareholders. As it’s Annual General Meeting season in Switzerland, shareholders are watching carefully as the large multinational companies announce results and rewards.

Are you expecting a challenging Annual General Meeting? Are you prepared to meet those challenges head on with a proactive approach to messaging — verbally and non-verbally?  Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

See also Part 1:  Three actionable steps to make your AGM a Thought Leadership Showcase

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Internal Appointment Announcements – Subtle Teaching Moments for Your Employees

use internal appointment announcements as employee teaching momentsWe’re all curious by nature, and that carries over into the business world. When new people join a company and the appointment announcement is posted, employees ”naturally” want to know more about them.

Who are these new joiners and where did they come from to get here? Why are they being appointed now? What have they done to be prepared for success in these roles? What do their new roles entail? Questions, questions… Continue Reading…

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Three Actionable Steps to Make Your AGM a Thought-Leadership Showcase (Part 1)

empty speakers podiumAhhhh, the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The Chairman’s Office owns it. Legal runs it. Investor Relations designs it. Finance provides the figures. Communications and Marketing create the messages. What could possibly go wrong!

AGMs offer a once-a-year opportunity to display the best thinking your company has to offer investors and other attendees. They’re also the ideal brand showcase for you as a thought leader. Don’t waste this magic moment.

It’s soon reporting season so now is the time to take a close look at what your AGM says about your company and about you. Are you focusing only on past results or are you also presenting at least a snapshot of the present and a glimpse into the future? Continue Reading…

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Plan for a Graceful Executive Exit…or Face a Disaster CEO Departure.

fireworks over an office building

Smart “on the shelf” strategies can help you disaster-proof high-level departures and avoid a firestorm of negative publicity. (Photo Credit)

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the departure of two very different CEOs in two very different ways with two very different results.

Daniel Vasella, long-time leader of global pharmaceuticals powerhouse Novartis, was the first departure, announced on 23 January.

Then on 28 January, Michael Clarke, head of the UK-based Premier Foods, announced his departure in a way reminiscent of former President Bush’s declaration of ”Mission Accomplished” a month after the banner flew behind him on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in 2003. Continue Reading…

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