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. 


5 Trade Show Marketing Solutions to Solve Social Media and “Face to Face” Challenges

non-social-generationHow many times do you encounter these selling challenges?

• Getting a “face to face” meeting with prospects;
• Presenting “your product advantages” to a client who currently deals with a competitor;
• Getting through to decision makers and even clients who are increasingly hard-to-reach?

Fortunately, and unlike social media, trade shows provide an immediate and effective solution to these challenges.
Trade shows are attended by decision makers who come specifically to see a wide range of solutions, new products as well as those being offered by companies they don’t currently deal with. A trade show allows you to physically demonstrate solutions and advantages that prospects may not be receiving from their current supplier.

Use the following five trade show marketing keys to increase your exhibiting success:

1. Let People Know You Are Attending and Book Appointments.

Only 20% of companies participating in trade show have a pre-show marketing program. List the shows you’re attending on your company web site, as well as in your signature line at the bottom of all outgoing emails. At a trade show make it a policy to never eat alone. Before the show, make sure you invite key clients to every meal of the day so you get  the “face to face” time to deepen relationships, and gain insights into their business.

2. Know What Your Client’s Are Looking For

Clients within a particular industry are likely to have similar requirements. Your exhibit should focus on these common challenges and illustrate how your company has a strategy or product to answer their concerns. At some shows having technical staff or senior management on the floor can help attract serious buyers.

3. Qualify Quickly.

According to the Center for Exhibit Industry Research (CEIR) the average trade show booth visitor will spend three minutes or less in your exhibit. This means that you should develop a specific set of questions to qualify a visitor to explore their need for your products/services. Once qualified, you then need to collect their contact information and create a plan for future interaction.

4. A Better Approach to Brochures.

According to trade show research, 72% of literature received at a show is discarded before leaving the building, or while packing bags for home. A better approach is to offer a “green alternative” by emailing brochures to a clients inbox. Along with being good for the environment, it allows you to collect their contact information, and further qualify their interest in your products.

5. Post Show Follow-Up.

Undoubtedly, when you return to the office after a show you have work that has “piled up” in your absence. Despite this, it’s critical you schedule a time to follow-up on those hard earned show leads before they turn cold, or are contacted by your competitors who also attended the show.

Implementing these five strategies will definitely help increase your exhibiting success.

Guest post blog by Brian Keobke, an expert on Exhibit Marketing, who has earned the CME designation, one of the highest level of professional achievement available in the exhibit industry. To schedule a review of your exhibit marketing or discuss trade show marketing solutions contact Brian by phone 604-276-2366 or 1-800-663-1737 email.