Execution IS the Strategy

Google ChromeScreenSnapz222Besides collecting a paycheck, what is an employee’s motivation for achieving a particular strategic goal? Why should they care?

At my Uncle David’s wedding several years ago, I had a profound conversation with a close family friend named Brian. Brian was David’s neighbor and his Best Man. Due to bad weather in Chicago (no surprise), he’d had major flight delays and other problems getting back to his home in San Antonio for the rehearsal dinner. He got there just in time to run into the church and take his place. Later at the dinner, I was thinking about the stress he certainly experienced and told him, “I heard about all the craziness with your travel yesterday. I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, the flight was fine,” he replied. “I’m just delighted to be here.”

“What a drag!” I rambled. “Weather can be so frustrating. Several years ago, we had a huge blizzard in Denver, and it stranded people right at Christmas!”

“Oh, you know, it actually doesn’t bother me. I didn’t have an agenda. I had a mission.”

Brian’s statement immediately struck me as insightful, and has stayed with me since. Why not make achieving your organization’s goals a mission? Your ability to clearly articulate your strategic priorities depends on understanding why you’re here and what you’re trying to accomplish.

You have to know what your target is to hit it consistently. You might not be able to see the target, but you must be able to visualize it and paint the picture for others. Think of pilots sometimes flying by their instruments in inclement weather, or military organizations “painting” their targets with radar to achieve hits at night.

As a leader, communicating your mission involves conveying why you care and why others should also care. So invite your employees to go on a mission with you. Help them understand why your organization’s priorities are important, whether at the team, department, division, or company level.

 Get Your Ducks in a Row 

One of the business world’s basic realities is that organizational strategy doesn’t always align well with day-to-day operations—i.e., the short-term tactics and logistics that combine to ensure the organization stays afloat. Indeed, bringing the two together may represent the most difficult part of your job.

It’s tough at any level, especially on the front lines where workers have a hard enough time taking care of their basic duties, plus all the new stuff their bosses throw at them. But then, organizational strategy probably doesn’t get much mention in their job descriptions. I’ll bet it does in yours, though. As a leader, you get paid the big bucks to align overall goals with the daily slog…because what’s the point of the slog if it goes nowhere?

I take it as an article of faith—and I trust you do, too—that people do better work when they can engage with and own their jobs. Conversely, they won’t care much if they believe their work doesn’t matter. So do your very best to show them how it does.  I recommend the 3T Method: Tell, Teach, and Train. Each step intertwines with the others at a basic level.

1.      Tell.  Don’t expect most employees to go out of their way to dig up the company’s mission and vision statements. They just don’t have the time. Instead, meet with each one and tell them exactly why their daily work matters and how it fits into the organization’s overall strategy. Once they realize they matter (and especially that the higher-ups know they do), they’ll be more likely to take ownership of their work, show initiative, unleash their creativity, and do a better job all around.

2.      Teach. Once you’ve shown your people how and why they matter, carry it forward by empowering them. As the work situation or industry evolves, keep them in the loop. Post metrics to demonstrate how their work has gotten everyone closer to the finish line. Mentor them, helping them grow into and beyond their jobs so they can step into positions of greater responsibility…and honestly offer them a realistic chance of advancement. Nothing kills engagement like realizing you’re in a dead-end job.

3.      Train. Consistently educate your team members in new procedures, software applications, and additions to their job descriptions. Don’t hesitate to help them refine their existing skills. Just because you have one type of hammer, for example, doesn’t mean you can use it for all hammering tasks. Ever try to hang a picture using a sledgehammer?

 Facing the Future

Depending on your situation, you may not find the 3Ts easy to implement. But the concept itself is simple enough. Think of each step as an investment, because in the long run, they will save you money. You’ll find it cheaper to Tell, Teach, and Train a team of dedicated workers who stay with you for years, actively helping you bring strategy and tactics in line with each other, than to constantly find and replace people who have no idea why their work matters—and worse, couldn’t give a flip.

Guest blog post © 2014 Laura Stack. This material is excerpted with permission by Laura Stack from her latest book Execution IS the Strategy. Forward your receipt to execution-book@aweber.com to receive special bonuses with your purchase.



4 Tips to a Winning Trade Show Display Design

award_winning_science_project_400_clr_12599The most important part of trade show exhibiting is, well, the trade show display. It is the booth that will draw attendees to you, let them know who you are and what your company can do for them. However, without the following features, your booth won’t get the traffic expected. There are many components to being a trade show success, but these four will lead you in the right direction.

1. Keep Your Message Consistent

From your booth graphics to the marketing materials, the message should be the same across the board. This will ensure attendees will remember your company and display instead of using multiple messages and images, which can be confusing and forgettable. Included in the message should be one or two images and a brief sentence that describes why customers should do business with you.

2. Use the Right Accessories

Adding something as simple as an accessory can dramatically change the look of your trade show display. One excellent option is lighting because it will create a spotlight on your booth in a dimly-lit trade show venue. Another option would be a table cloth with your company’s logo on it; this is especially a great idea if your are using a table top display.

3. Try to Keep Your Booth Design Unique

If you are thumbing through exhibitor magazines and see a spectacular design that you want to duplicate, try to refrain from doing that. The reason being that attendees will have a difficult time differentiating you from the competition if everyone uses the same design trends. Strive to create a trade show display that is unlike any other that will be seen at the event. What you can do is research different trade show display designs and find a way to put your own spin on it.

4. Add Trade Show Flooring

Flooring is very important because it not only provides some comfort against the hard concrete floor at the trade show venue, but it also completes the look of any display. Some options available is hardwood floor, interlocking carpet, or dye-sub graphic mats. Whatever look you decide to go with will compliment your display system.

Especially if you are a new exhibitor, it can be stressful trying to prepare for an event. With these tips, you are on your way to a successful and lucrative exhibit.

Guest Blog Post written by Kristin Hovde, Website Manager for Smash Hit Displays, an online trade show display company. She also has written many conference and event-related blogs for Smash Hit Displays. 


Creating Trade Show Giveaways That Actually Work

success-giveaway-300x300Trade show giveaways have become an ever-present component of the event marketing landscape. In recent years they’ve also been a hot topic of conversation among marketing experts, some of whom question their value to the businesses that hand them out by the tote bag-full at every show. For marketers, free promotional items have always had a clear and simple goal — to put a branded item into the hands of attendees in the hopes that it reminds or informs them about a given company or product.

But the world of promotional items is no longer just a sea of pens, pencils and key chains. Modern marketing tools, including detailed studies and analytics involving how giveaways are viewed and used by attendees, have made choosing and implementing promo items serious business that trade show presenters can’t afford to take lightly.

Choosing strategic giveaways for your business involves a host of variables, but there are some key aspects of this important decision that many marketers may overlook. Keeping these factors in mind can make the difference between realizing a significant return on your investment and supplying your guests with an item that will get lost in their goodie bag, never to be thought of again.

Presenting The Right Message

The most important step to creating a successful promotional item is determining exactly what you want to say to your perspective clients and how you’ll say it. Sure, it’s important to include your business name and contact information, but there are plenty of other messages your handouts can deliver.

Think about the overall goals of your presence at a given event and ensure that you’re reinforcing them every step of the way. If you’re at an event to promote a particular product create a giveaway that ties into that effort.

If you’re trying to establish your company’s place in the industry, let your freebees tell your guests you were ranked number one amongst your peers, or were recently the recipient of an award. As important as it is for your overall presentation to stand out from the crowd, it’s equally important that your marketing giveaways establish what makes you special.

Building A Better Giveaway

Trade show giveaways have never been known for their quality. Because many businesses give them out without even asking for any information in return (which you should avoid doing by the way), the focus is most often exclusively on quantity rather than quality. But take a step back and consider this — would you rather have 1000 items to giveaway that are immediately discarded, broken or ignored, or 500 items that recipients will be more motivated to hold onto?

Providing higher quality giveaways doesn’t have to be more expensive, it simply involves taking the time to consider all of your options and working with a supplier that you trust. Always ask for samples of any product you’re considering using and choose the one that you yourself would be more likely to keep or use.

Considering All Your Options

If you’ve shopped for trade show promotional items recently you’ve likely felt a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. While there’s no silver bullet in terms of the perfect giveaway for every situation, it pays to keep an open mind and mix up your offerings. Think about all the factors that can contribute to your items being valued and used by attendees.

Factors like the location of the show, the time of year and the demographic of your audience can all play a key role in the success of a given promotion. Don’t be afraid to mix up your materials and tailor your handouts to the given show.

Present A Unified Brand

Consistency is key to a lasting impression and your promotional items should always tie-in to the overarching theme of your presentation, either in theme, colors or branding. Once again, consider the message that you’re hoping to convey and make sure to incorporate it into your choice of marketing freebees. Consider how your staff will interact with and present the items as well. Apparel items are a popular giveaway choice as booth attendants can wear them as well.

Put Your Items On Display

In the end many marketers use handouts and giveaways to draw attention and build a buzz, so it should go without saying that you want your audience to be able to see what you have to offer. When choosing your promotional items, think about how they might be displayed or used in your booth. The best items will be able to pull double duty as static advertisements as they wait to be distributed to guests.

When it comes down to it, only you will be able to determine the best trade show giveaways for your particular business. Don’t be afraid to test out all of your options and be sure to consistently update your selection to keep things fresh. With a bit of forethought and planning, these items that your guests receive for free can continue to work for you well after the show is over.

Guest Blog Post by Brian Burr:
Brian Burr is the Chief Operating Officer of WholesaleHats.com. Burr has been involved in every aspect of the embroidery business for more than 18 years. Before becoming the COO of WholesaleHats.com, Burr was a Lead Machine Operator for six years, a Chief Mechanic for an embroidery manufacturer for three years, and the Production Manager for a custom embroidery factory for five years. He received his B.S from the University of Utah.