My Resolutions for 2014

With so many people grappling with their new year’s resolutions on this last day of January, I started to think, “Instead of focusing on what I wanted to achieve personally this year, what if I resolved to give clients what they wanted (and needed) from a communications consultant?”

Good client service. Results that matter. Fresh approaches to content development and social media.

So I came up with this plan on how to turn clients’ wishes into service resolutions:

Want No. 1: Resource Extensions

The economy may be picking up, but I have yet to see one client who has too many staffers or too much money sitting in their budgets. (If you know of any, I’d appreciate a referral!) Resources are tight, and you need a partner who not only provides expert consultation but also produces deliverables on time and under budget.

My resolution: Get in-the-trenches with clients. One of the best compliments I received last year was from a long-time client who said, “Cara is an extension of our team.”

Want No. 2: Make Me Look Good (to the Boss, to the Board, to my Customers)

All eyes are on you when you hire a new copywriter or communications consultant. Did you make the right decision? Will the CFO pummel your social media efforts as a frivolous marketing expense? Will the new demand-generation campaign produce sales? Will we win during the product reviews process?

My resolution: Never become a consultant more concerned about winning industry awards than about delivering what matters most to my clients. I know that if your content, social media and marketing communications efforts don’t produce a return — on investment, objectives or reputation — they’re not working, and no award for creative copywriting or hashtag coinage will fix them!

Want No. 3: Communication

In real estate investment, the three most important words are, “location, location, location.” In the business of client relationships, the three most important words are “communication, communication, communication.” You may hire consultants because they are creative, but if their business protocols aren’t methodical and their communication skills aren’t proactive, you won’t keep them.

My resolution: Never keep you in the dark. I believe in Jack Welch-style candor. If a campaign isn’t working, I’ll let you know and help you find a solution. If I can’t deliver what you’re asking for, I’ll let you know before taking on the assignment. I have client communications protocols in place, such as weekly status reports, regular face-to-face meetings or quarterly assessments.

Want No. 4: To Have It My Way

Clients only know one way of doing things: their way. Of course, my objective is to bring crisp approaches to your account and tantalize you with new ways of doing communications that produce results. But if it’s not what you want or it exceeds your budget, you won’t care.

My resolution: To be easy to work with so you don’t have another headache. I know formulaic approaches don’t work. I’ll listen to your business problems, create a communications solution together and then deliver on the agreed-upon results. It really can be that simple.

Now, it’s your turn: What do you want and how can I help?

 

 

Why Execution Is as Important as Innovation

It seems like no one can agree on the economy — and some of us are ready to #OccupyKlout this week — but everyone can agree that we love innovation. In my series about innovation and entrepreneurs, I talked with client Don Steiner, founder and president of Profit Recovery Partners LLC. PRP is a Remarx Media client that provides economic stimulus to CFOs today. Don stresses that innovation doesn’t happen in isolation; you have to deliver on your outstanding ideas with a well-honed team. Read on to learn more and let us know your comments and questions.

1.      How do you define innovation?

Innovation is thinking outside the box with commitment to execution.

2.      Give us an example of innovation within your organization this year.

Our reinvention is our best example. We examined our limits to growth with our current structure. We identified our limitations, restructured our company to find deeper savings, processed to achieve savings 200 percent faster, increased service to our clients, raised the bar for employees (through sales skills, presentation skills and strategic thinking) and now have a scalable organization. The execution of this is a two-year project changing the current function of 80 employees while maintaining the highest levels of service to our clients.

3.      How do you see the results of innovation created by PRP?

All innovations must have a plan, timeline and measurable results (revenue increase or reduction in cost).

4.      PRP often works with entrepreneurs. Tell us one story about how you made a difference to an entrepreneur.

Creating jobs. PRP has reduced costs for its clients, which have saved jobs and helped our clients fund growth.

5.      I hear you mix philanthropy with business. How is that part of innovation?

Yes, donations should be given to organizations that use the money wisely and have everlasting impact to improve people’s lives.

What are your thoughts on innovation? Comment here or tweet me at @remarx. And if you missed it last month, Michael J. Harris of Aperture Capital shared his thoughts about innovation. Read it here. 

Interview with Michael J. Harris, Aperture Capital, Aperture Payment Solutions

Last month, I kicked off our series on innovation by talking with Julie Evans, the chief executive officer at Project Tomorrow. This month, I interviewed client Michael J. Harris. He’s the chief at Aperture Capital and the newly formed Aperture Payment Solutions. I love what this highly disciplined exec has to say about innovation.

Michael J. Harris

1. How do you define innovation?
To me, “innovation” means inventing or finding creative solutions to problems. In my worlds of capital and merchant card services, the wheel has already been invented and re-invented about a million times over. It’s not about inventing the wheel for my Clients, it’s what wheel fits them best.

2. Give us an example of innovation within your organization this year.
Again, on the topic of finding the best solution for your Client, I really need to understand my Clients and their needs.  Every single deal is dramatically different.  My favorite account is one where the existing merchant card service provider was encouraging my Client to key in her transactions, vs. actually swiping the customer’s card.  All this did was to double his income from each sale he made.  Again, I wasn’t reinventing the wheel, just selling my Client on a better-fitting wheel.

3. How do you see the results of innovation created by Aperture Capital and Aperture Payment Solutions?
Integrity and “Doing the Best Thing for the Client” are tenets of my businesses. This invariably leads to happier clients, and happier clients lead to more happy client referrals – the lifeblood of my businesses.

4. Aperture Payment Solutions often works with entrepreneurs. Tell us one story about how you made a difference to an entrepreneur.
I brought in a client, who I thought was a single-account entity. Turns out, this client owns 10 retail shops around Southern California. Because I did such a good job in terms of pricing and service on the first location, I successfully brought on the entire family of accounts. It’s all about being good at what you do, and asking for the business.

5. Now for fun: What is your favorite mobile app?
Without a doubt, Pandora.