Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keep your saw sharp during the Holidays

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels if you’re flying or driving in this crazy weather east of the Mississippi. We tend to live, work and socialize among some of the world’s most fortunate people. Keep that in mind as the so-called “stress” of the Holidays raises your blood pressure around the office or at family gatherings. We leave and breathe deadlines every day, but I know that’s something we all need to do better here at HB.

Don’t take your eye off the blade and sharpen the saw

Also, with year-end budgets, reports, forecasts and contracts bearing down on us, it seems there’s precious little time to get our “Day Jobs” done. But, you have to find a way to do so or you’ll be sorry come January. Management guru Stephen Covey once quipped, too many managers complain "they don't have time to sharpen the saw, because they’re too busy sawing!"

But you’ve got to keep the saw sharp. You’re going to have unexpected delays, breakdowns and snafus this time of year. The key is to adjust and set reasonable expectations, not to point fingers at yourself, your managers or your staff who didn’t bring their “A Games” on a particular day.

Be exuberant, but not irrationally so

Yesterday, the NASDAQ closed above 4,000 for the first time in 13 years. Venture capital investment’s up 17 percent over this time a year ago, according to the National Venture Capital Association. There’s a renewed boom in subprime lending, according to today’s New York Times. And despite higher mortgage rates, single family home prices posted big gains in September and home construction permits rose to their highest level in five-and-a-half years, according to October government data.  

It’s easy to get complacent this time of year since macro-economic factors look pretty rosy and we know many of you have enjoyed an uptick in business this year. Remember, part of this uptick is several years’ worth of pent-up demand and doesn’t necessarily mean you can forecast it again next year. Figure out how much is sustainable and how much is ad hoc. If you’ve had a good year, make sure you know why you’ve been successful (and not just lucky). Make sure you can duplicate that success and you have invested prudently in technology and staffing to meet that demand—but not over-invested.

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: National Venture Capital Association, Thanksgiving, Stephen Covey, sub-prime lending, NASDAQ 4,000


Friday, November 22, 2013

No Time for Social Media? Make Time for LinkedIn

As we’ve said many times before on the topic of social media, each platform has its merits—if you have the time and energy to master them. But, if you only have time to devote to one social platform—we know even that’s a stretch for many of you--then LinkedIn will probably give you the biggest bang for your effort.

LinkedIn for referrals

First, look at the user base. About 40 percent of LinkedIn members are Managers, Directors, Owners, VPs or C-Suite officers. Do you want likes, winks and friends? Or do you want new clients and trusted referrals sources? We thought so.

Second, obsess about accumulating the most connections. No one’s keeping score. Definitely reach out to your inner circle and to valuable contacts that you just made at a conference or professional event. Definitely follow interesting people so that articles (or online discussions) that are relevant to your work show up daily in your inbox. But, having 50 deep connections with the movers and shakers in your industry or profession is far better than having 500+ connections composed mostly of people you barely know beyond a quick business card exchange.

John Powell, a principal at one of our longstanding clients, CEG Worldwide, noted recently that LinkedIn can help you position yourself as an expert to members of your target market. To make LinkedIn work for you, your profile must spell out the specific value that you bring to your clients’ financial lives—for example, by including your mission statement and elevator speech. Also spell out how you do great work for your clients and the biggest benefits that investors gain by working with you, he said. When you ask clients for introductions to other people—don’t be afraid to do this often-- you can mention specific people by name and increase your chances of gaining an introduction to them. The key, said Powell, is not to ask for a referral per se, but to offer a “second opinion” in which you conduct a free review for a clients’ friend and associate

Social media to identify new prospects

When used correctly, social media networks can be excellent for identifying centers of influence (COIs)—the key players and most important people in your target niche market. The idea is to meet the COI to learn more about your niche’s issues and how you can address those issues. For example, you can do advanced searches in LinkedIn to find connections among your clients who might be good to speak with. You also might then ask your client to make the introduction the next time you meet. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

LinkedIn showcases your expertise and stimulates referrals

LinkedIn introduced “showcase pages” this week that allow companies or firms to highlight specific products or services by creating dedicated sites for them on the professional network. With a Showcase Page, you can segment content to distinct audiences who are interested in different aspects of your business or practice. As some of you might have guessed, this strategy is part of LinkedIn’s broader goal to be content marketing hub for companies—not just a career networking destination for professional folks.

How to start a LinkedIn Showcase

Showcase pages can be set up by company page administrators by going to the “Edit” dropdown menu on their dashboards and selecting “Create a Showcase Page.” Businesses, which can operate up to 10 showcase pages, will be able to track page performance through existing analytics tools.


LinkedIn and other popular social networking platforms are powerful tools for disseminating information to the masses. These tools are fast, inexpensive and easy to use, but if you’re not careful, they can be a tremendous drain of your firm’s time, energy and resources. Figure out which one or two platforms you and your firm can really get behind and find an in-house champion or outside expert to help you. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just make sure reach out on a consistent, reasonable basis and for goodness sake, make sure your profile is updated regularly make sure you have something relevant to share whenever you tweet, post, Link, like connect or pin.

More tips can be found on the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: LinkedIn, centers of influence, John Powell, CEG Worldwide


Friday, November 08, 2013

Do You Know Who Your “Affluencers” Are?

Hope you don’t mind if we correspond via good old fashioned email. Much as we’d like to be tweeting you, we just can’t get this weekly rant off our chests in only 140 characters. Likewise, we love it when you respond (pro or con)--take all the space you need to share your thoughts.

Have you hear about this new demographic group called the Affluent Influencers (a.k.a. “Affluencers”)? We hadn’t either until iProspect’s latest research came across our radar this week. Affluencers have the financial means to make all manner of serious buying decisions for their personal and business lives. But, they also have wide followings, so when they green-light something, they influence many others and deliver “an exponentially larger total reach both in traditional, offline word-of-mouth, and in online/social space,” according to researchers.

For more on this topic, see last week’s post about knowing your WoMi (word of mouth score).

So who are Affluencers exactly? They’re about evenly split between Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials and slightly more male than female. The common thread is that they have household incomes of $100K+, they’re well educated and they have the ability to affect the purchase decisions of others.

There’s a pretty good chance you have Affluencers on staff. Many of your clients and prospects fall into this group as well. You might want to look carefully at how you’re communicating with them. Here’s why:

  • Millennials like to author and create content, while Baby Boomers like to listen and watch the Gen Xers prefer curating content and commenting in the social space
  • Millennials are the most likely to engage via social media daily (57%), followed by Gen Xers (45%), and Baby Boomers (37%)
  • Millennials are willing to pay for online news access, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers aren’t
The research looked at Affluencer values, preferences, and behaviors across the three generations of Millennials, GenXers, and Boomers. Though they share many commonalities, each generation also has unique needs, says the report.
  • Millennial Affluencers are more likely to respond well to messages with social benefits (fitting in, being admired, etc.) while Boomer Affluencers are more focused on personal benefits.
  • A substantial percentage of Millennial and Gen X Affluencers access the web regularly via their smartphones (69% and 58%, respectively), or their tablets (45% and 34%, respectively).
  • A notable percentage of Affluencers regularly read print magazines (YES they read print) and are substantially more likely than their affluent but non-influential counterparts to read publications in the buying guide, cars/automotive, technology, and classified advertisements categories.
Researchers say Affluencers are respected “experts” because they are well informed and eat up buying guides, Q&A pages, advice columns:
  • 90% of Affluencers research products and services online.
  • iProspect research showed that 78% of Millennial and 66% of Gen X Affluencers use their mobile devices like a computer, checking e-mails and performing web searches.
The iProspect report suggests that marketers use research findings and company data to create highly targeted customer profiles. The study shows that:
  • 50% to 65% of Affluencers (depending on generation) are always the first among their friends to try new products and services, making the concept of “NEW” an appealing message.
  • 56% to 65% of Affluencers (depending on generation) are willing to spend money to save time, making efficiency a valuable benefit.
  • Millennial Affluencers are more than four times more likely than Boomer Affluencers to create online content, making them much more likely to engage in participatory brand activities.
Macro View

Despite all the doom and gloom expected as a result of the partial government shutdown last month, sales and hiring actually accelerated in the service sector last month. U.S. payrolls advanced by 204,000 jobs last month,
the Labor Department said today—almost double what economists were forecasting. It’s really not even worth tracking the official unemployment rate anymore since the feds claim it actually increased to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent last month. More on that disconnect next week.
More good news, The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said Tuesday that its service-sector index rose a full point to 55.4 last month—any reading above 50 is considered an expansion. The ISM index covers about 90 percent of the U.S. workforce, with heavy representation in financial services, healthcare, construction and retail. What’s more, the annual growth rates estimated for the U.S. recently came in at 2.8 percent in Q3—the fastest quarterly increase in output so far in 2013.


When it comes to reaching your target market, it’s not just connect with a single person, department or household; it’s about connecting with everyone who’s influenced by the decisions made by that person, department or household. As we discussed last week, good new travels fast, but bad news even faster. Choose you messaging carefully in this age of viral, exponential communication touch points.
More tips can be found on the FREE Resources page of our website.


Tags: iProspect, affluent influencers, Affluencers, Institute of Supply Management, jobs report, Twitter