Opening Doors Blog

The 4 Elements of an Effective Onboarding Program

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

“With a ‘sink or swim’ approach, companies and leaders are flirting with disaster.” —Lee Hecht Harrison


Accelerate the investment you made on your new hire by onboarding effectively. Research consistently reports that effective onboarding programs lead to higher retention, elevated performance and increased loyalty and engagement. 


The most critical time of the employee life cycle is the first 90 days of employment. You can hire the best and brightest talent to join your team, but without an effective and positive onboarding experience the chances of you being able to retain them diminishes every day. The Wynhurst Group reports that “employees are 58 percent more likely to be at the company three years later when they complete a structured onboarding process.” 


Further, giving employees a thoughtful, organized and well-planned out onboarding platform will accelerate their learning, increase their assimilation into the company and strengthen their connection to your mission. Benjamin Franklin reminds us that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 


Following best practices, the onboarding cycle should be structured into four (4) primary areas over the course of 90 days: 


1) PREPARE (pre-hire)
Onboarding starts before the new hire starts employment. Being well-prepared before the new hire arrives on their first day ensures they will have a positive and memorable first day! Prepare their onboarding plan, ensure their workstation and computer are ready and have a welcome lunch planned. 


2) ASSIMILATE (first 1-3 days)
To avoid overwhelming your new hire, fill the first few days with experiences that teach them culture, build relationships, explain workplace expectations and give them the space they need to get oriented. 


3) ENGAGE (first 60 days)
Operational immersion should begin with role-specific training including shadowing, reverse shadowing, a strong buddy/mentor resource and weekly checkpoints with their manager. Checkpoint meetings should be geared toward collecting feedback from the new hire and determining where additional support and training may be needed.


4) REVIEW (within 60-90 days)
At the end of the onboarding period, the new hire’s manager should conduct a formal review meeting to share their observations on how the new hire is performing, norming to the culture and engaging with the broader team. While formal and documented, this “review” should be approached within the spirit of feedback and supporting their long-term success with the organization.


“Research and conventional wisdom both suggest that employees get about 90 days to prove themselves in a new job. The faster new hires feel welcomed and prepared for their jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the firm’s mission.” – Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM)


Solvere HR Consulting provides powerful HR solutions that optimize your organizational capability and profitability through your most valuable asset -- your employees. Check us out at  www.solverehr.com. 


Harassment Claims Are on the Rise: 6 Steps to Protect Your Organization

Thursday, December 14, 2017



Sexual harassment claims in the media are rising at an alarming rate. The need for immediate action in response to these trends should be a priority for every organization.


The growing #MeToo campaign has given employees a platform to share their story and call out misconduct in the workplace. These shared experiences are prompting increased openness about discussing the issue and will continue to give employees the confidence to bring forward claims they may not have had the courage to do so previously.

Just because your organization hasn’t received a claim doesn’t mean your current work environment will be safe from future claims.  

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO RIGHT NOW

It’s important that employers know how to recognize early warning signs and prevent behavior that could lead to a hostile work environment and subsequent claim. This is a critical time for organizations to take a hard look at their culture, workplace behaviors, and policies to proactively assess areas of risk. 


Here are six factors every organization should consider right now to protect their employees and the organization from distracting workplace behaviors and expensive legal claims:


#1 Online harassment training isn’t enough - Offering customized, onsite training sessions provide employers the opportunity to reinforce their organization’s core values, reflect their cultural norms and share examples that are relevant to their work environment. 


#2 It’s not just employees and management who need training - HR teams need continued professional development on leading effective investigations to avoid legal mishaps and ensure that each party is treated fairly and objectively throughout the process. 


#3 Conflict resolution is a core competency - Should an employee become uncomfortable with the behaviors of coworker, being able to tell them directly that they prefer not to talk engage in those discussions in the workplace may be enough to quash the issue. To build this skill in your organization, employers should complement harassment prevention trainings with conflict resolution and active listening skill development sessions. 


#4 Now is not the time for outdated and ineffective policies - If there was ever a time to ensure your policies are legally compliant and effective, now is that time. Follow these four tips to ensure your policy is effective: 
Avoid legal-ease
Use examples
Have a multi-option complaint policy
Extend expectations and protections to customer, clients, vendors, or contractors 


#5 Reinforcing a culture of respect - Organizations should consider how respect and inclusivity are expressly valued in their workplace. If respect and inclusivity are not currently captured in your organization’s core value statement, should they be?


#6 Top-level executive engagement - To set the tone for the organization, top-level executives should quickly engage by reinforcing the organization’s commitment to a harassment-free work environment and broadly communicate the launch of a company-wide anti-harassment campaign.


These efforts don’t have to change the essence of your culture. Friendly banter and humor in the workplace is an important part of any work environment. Many Human Resources consulting firms help clients create a custom anti-harassment campaign that will balance cultural values and support personal relationships while establishing appropriate boundaries between fun and harassment. 



Solvere HR Consulting provides powerful HR solutions that optimize your organizational capability and profitability through your most valuable asset -- your employees. 
Learn more at www.solverehr.com.



6 Critical Policy Updates for 2018

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The employment landscape changes frequently, as such employers are encouraged to review and update their Employee Handbook every year. Employers need to be conscientious of the significant number of legal changes on the federal, state and local level that occurred this year. Therefore, it is critical for an employer to review, amend and properly update its handbook for 2018 to reflect the latest legal requirements.

Employee Handbooks are the backbone of an organization’s culture. More than just policies, these guiding principles should tell the story of who you are and describe the motivations and priorities that drive your business. Beyond the necessary legal updates, we also advise that during this review you evaluate your content and tone to ensure it continues to reflect your culture and leadership practices. 


Below are 6 critical policies employers should review and update in their Employee Handbook:


  1. Sexual Harassment Policies:  With the recent rise in sexual harassment claims, employers should ensure your policy emphasizes zero-tolerance on sexual harassment and gender inequality. Additionally, the policy should clearly outline the process to bring forward instances of harassment.

  2. Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policies: Many states have enacted laws this year providing employment protections to new and emerging protected classes and expanding the coverage of equal opportunity laws. Maintaining updated policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on membership in a protected class is critical from a compliance perspective.

  3. Review Reasonable Accommodation Policies: Several states have enacted or expanded reasonable accommodations for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and for those with marijuana prescriptions in 2017. Your Handbook should expressly comply with these requirements. 

  4. Comply with New and Updated Leave Laws: States and cities remain very focused on passing paid sick leave laws and family and medical leave laws. For example, Colorado state law requires employers to offer up to 3-days of unpaid leave for instances associated with domestic abuse. 

  5. Safe Driving Policies: Employers must remember that in an increasingly mobile society, employees are always on the go while still needing to remain connected for business and personal reasons. An employer should make sure enforce safe driving policies that comply with state law, such as Colorado’s state law prohibiting texting while driving.

  6. Amend Smoke-Free Workplace Policies: The increased presence of e-cigarettes and tobacco substitutes has forced employers to update their smoke-free workplace policies to ensure the workplace is comfortable and pleasant for all. It is advisable for any smoke-free workplace policy to also specifically prohibit the use of e-cigarettes.

It’s not enough to just update the contents each year. Employers must make sure employees are aware of the policies and have had adequate opportunity to review and comprehend them. Employers are encouraged to provide employees a copy of the Handbook upon hire and after every update. It is a best practice to always have them sign an acknowledgement upon receipt.

Don’t have a Handbook? It may be time for your organization to build one. It’s just like building a culture of accountability. Your Handbook sets expectations - both employer and employee expectations. When you use your handbook consistently, trust is built and culture will thrive. 


Article by Reagan Freed, Principal Consultant for Solvere HR Consulting
Solvere HR Consulting provides powerful HR solutions that optimize your organizational capability and profitability through your most valuable asset -- your employees. Learn more at www.solverehr.com.

The Responsive Design Revolution: Are You on Board?

Monday, October 23, 2017


When you think about the habits of most people accessing information online, you likely have a picture in your mind of someone looking at a mobile device. From checking email to catching up on social media, the mobile device has become the first-look portal. So if your website isn’t responsive you could be missing out on visitors.

As marketers, we spend a lot of time and effort getting the message out about products or services. Just about every message we deploy – if done right – will lead the end user to a specific website. Every piece of direct mail includes a web address, email newsletters contain links, as do social media posts. 


Your Consumers are always on the go. Can your website keep up? 

Some business owners make the mistake of thinking site visitors are determined enough to go to their laptop or desktop to view the content they need. Well, sure they are. But will they actually do it? Probably not. There are so many companies fighting for the attention online, and within every industry sector. But even if the consumer is in dire need of what you or your website offers, in today’s digital distraction age, they’ll probably forget.

...and the responsive design revolution has begun. 


The Good News

Building a responsive website is easier and more affordable than ever. The do it yourself (DIY) website platforms (i.e. Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, etc.) all have responsive design built right in. For those looking for a bit more flexibility or functionality from working with a developer, WordPress also integrates responsive design through the Bootstrap framework.


How About the User Experience? 

Not only does responsive design allow users to get to the information they need quickly and in a visually appealing way, it allows you to control the experience. Your responsive version of your website can be an abridged version – including only pertinent information and minimal design elements. That’s right, you’re not just optimizing for device but also optimizing the overall experience.

If your website isn’t already responsive, it’s probably time for a tune-up. Please visit your local Small Business Development Center for resources on this topic.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!


Joe Contrino is CEO of The Contrino Group, a direct marketing agency located in Lafayette, CO.

Joe is an award winning direct marketer with over 32 of years of experience.   Prior to founding The Contrino Group, Joe was a Senior Partner at Suite 700 Direct, Integrated Marketing Solutions Manager at Henry Wurst, Inc., and CEO and owner of Contrino Direct Marketing, Boulder, CO.

Joe is a Direct Marketing Association Certified Direct Marketer Professional, Industry Co-Chair of the Denver Postal Customer Council Board of Directors, and speaks regionally and nationally on direct marketing topics and trends.

No matter what your business is or who your customers are, the team at The Contrino Group can help you in all facets of communication. From acquisition and retention strategies, to segmentation, formats and touch strategies – we’ve done it all and have some great success stories to share. 

Is it Time to “Get Real” About your Partnership?

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Are you a partner in your business, or searching for that perfect co-founder to complement your skill set? Whether you’re running the family business with your spouse or just starting to kick around startup ideas with a friend from college, it’s only a matter of time before relationship issues start to creep into your work life. It’s all fun and games until real money is on the line, and difficult decisions have to be made. Suddenly, that carefree attitude you used to love in your friend now seems irresponsible or even lazy. Alternatively, that ambition and drive you once admired has now turned your partner into a micro-manager and you find yourself making snide comments or worse, saying nothing but seething inside. 

Relationship issues will surface in just about any business partnership. Like marriage, business partnerships take work and maintenance. Some thoughtful planning at the outset and strategic tools for fine-tuning can go a long way toward setting the tone for a successful partnership and making your work feel fulfilling again.  


Opposites attract, or do they? 

One frustrating truth about both marriages and business partnerships is that the secret to success will be different for everyone. We humans are complicated creatures. Some of us thrive with a partner who is our opposite personality-wise. Co-founders William Hanna and Joseph Barbera of the Hanna-Barbera animation empire illustrate this point. Their 60-plus year partnership brought us Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, the Flintstones and the Smurfs, making use of their complementary skill sets. Barbera has always been the gag writer and sketch artist, complimented by Hanna’s gift for timing, story construction, and recruiting top artists. They made major business decisions together, alternating the title of president between them each year. But their personalities couldn’t have been more different. Hanna was a an all-American family man and Eagle Scout who loved the outdoors and avoided the spotlight, while Barbera was a creature of his New York City upbringing who thrived in the Hollywood social scene. Their divergent interests meant they rarely talked outside of work, but they almost never argued and often referenced their perfect understanding of and respect for each other.  

On the other end of the spectrum, new research suggests that opposites don’t really attract after all, in a variety of relationship types, and the truth is that the human tendency is to seek out those whose personalities are very much like our own.


What’s the Secret to a Successful Business Partnership? Talk it out.

So if there’s no universal formula to determine what makes a successful partnership, what can partners do to ensure they are each other’s best co-pilot on the journey? We recommend that potential partners, or even partners who are already in business together, work through a series of questions to clarify whether their goals for the business are similar, whether their roles are clearly defined and complementary, whether they can work through money issues together, whether they can carve out complementary areas of control, if they are able to engage in constructive communication, and whether they have complementary values and life and work styles. We’ll be leading an SBDC workshop for partners on October 25 at 9:30 a.m., where we will be introducing and working through these questions. 

The major takeaway from answering the questions has less to do with the actual responses, and more to do with the overall sense, at the conclusion of the exercises, that each partner gets for the other’s integrity and ability to communicate. The latest research, as well as our own anecdotal observations, suggests that these are the most defining features of what makes for a successful partnership. 


What does Google say? 

Google did its own research to try and determine what qualities made for the most successful teams. It turns out that while successful teams could look very different from each other, the common elements were:
  • In successful teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’  
  • The good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they demonstrated empathy by intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues.  In other words, the high-functioning teams exhibited “psychological safety,” a sense of confidence that speaking up would not be met with embarrassment, rejection, or punishment.  

The Perks of Partnership

Despite the depressing statistics for both marriage and business partner failure rates, there are compelling reasons to partner up. Sharing the burdens of running a business and having the support of a teammate can be invaluable.  For extra assurance that the team you’re building is likely to be a success, we recommend starting with an honest conversation about your goals, roles, money, control, communication, values, and life and work styles, to determine for yourself whether your team exhibits the fundamental qualities that contribute to successful teams. Tap into how the conversations make you feel, and if you feel energized and supported, your partnership is more likely to succeed. 



This content was provided by Chuck Hunker and Jaime Roth, co-founders of True Connect LLC.  They are committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve their highest vision by working together amicably and effectively. As co-founders and business partners, we understand the benefits and challenges of implementing a vision together. 

Have Your Met Your Cyber Security Requirements?

Monday, October 09, 2017


December 31st is fast approaching and so is the deadline for the Defense Department’s cybersecurity requirements for all government contractors and subcontractors. 


For those who are not aware, in 2001, the federal government started the process for protecting classified information when stored or shared by electronic means. If contractors maintain a government IT system or simply store information, they must meet the standards set by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) or Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). In recent years, these requirements have undergone many changes from terminology to technical requirements. Despite simplified revisions, interpreting cyber security requirements can be a bit confusing. 


Who are the players in cybersecurity?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was given the responsibility of establishing standards for government and contractor IT systems.  In June 2015, NIST issued THIS DOCUMENT  highlighting 101 standards. 
  • Contractors will have to comply with the cybersecurity regime set forth by FAR Subpart 4.19 (Basic Safeguarding of Covered Contractor Information Systems).
  • DoD (Department of Defense) contractors will also have to comply with cybersecurity and cloud storage requirements in DFARS Subpart 204.73 and 239.76. If you only use non-FAR agreements in working with DoD, you are not yet compliant. These same requirements apply to all contract and agreements (e.g., grants, other transaction authority agreements, CRADAs, and SBIRs).

What’s the difference between FAR and DFARS?

The two regimes have many similarities, but also many differences to consider. While the FAR applies to all federal agencies, it only requires 17 of the NIST  standards. The DFARS only applies to DoD contractors and requires all 101 NIST standards to be implemented by Dec 31, 2017. To obtain contracts, DoD contractors and subcontractors will need to become certified under all requirements. To understand how the government and prime contractors will assess compliance, you can review guidance material issued by the DoD HERE


What happens if you’re not compliant? 

Like other government requirements, there are potentially negative consequences to accepting a contract and certifying compliance if you do not meet the requirements. As such, a checklist or other similar procedure with a focus on behaviors is also highly recommended.


What’s the difference between FAR and DFARS? See the table below: 

 

FAR 4.19/52.204-21

DFARS 204.73/252.204-7012

Applicability

All Agencies

DoD Only

All contracts except COTS

All contracts except COTS

Federal Contract Information means information, not intended for public release, that is provided by or generated for the Government under a contract to develop or deliver a product or service to the Government, but not including information provided by the Government to the public (such as that on public websites) or simple transactional information, such as that necessary to process payments. “Information” means any communication or representation of knowledge such as facts, data, or opinions in any medium or form, including textual, numerical, graphic, cartographic, narrative, or audiovisual (Committee on National Security Systems Instruction (CNSSI) 4009).

Covered Defense Information

a. Excludes classified

b. Provided by DoD or collected, developed, received, transmitted, used or stored in support of performance of the contract

c. Is controlled technical information, critical information, export controlled, or any other information, marked or otherwise identified in the contract that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls

Focused on Systems

Focused on Information

Effective Date

Now (no Safe Harbor)

December 31, 2017

Requirements

15/17 of NIST 800-171

All 110 of NIST 800-171

Marking

No requirement for government to mark

Marked or otherwise indicate if Covered Defense Information

Reporting

No explicit reporting requirement

Mandatory – 72 hours, DoD

Subcontractors report / provide incident number to prime

Certification

No explicit certification Requirements

Required by 252.204-7008

Subcontract

Mandatory if subcontractor “may have Federal contract information residing in or transiting through its information system”

Mandatory for “subcontracts, or similar contractual instruments, for operationally critical support, or for which subcontract performance will involve covered defense information, including subcontracts for commercial items, without alteration, except to identify the parties”

No guidance for how to assess or monitor

Prime is responsible for cyber enforcement

Prime - determine if Subcontractor can comply, Request deviations

Subcontractors must notify Primes if unable to comply


If you haven’t yet implemented or started the process to create a compliant system, it’s time to get started! Contact your local SBDC and PTAC offices to get connected with someone who can help in this process. 




Karri Palmetier brings more than two decades of experience in government contracting and aerospace and defense industries. She started her career as a U.S. Air Force judge advocatwhere she supported major defense programs, base operational contracting, and international and joint war operations. Karri gained additional breadth working in a major D.C. law firm on a variety of government contracting matters. Her extensive background in working for and with the U.S. Government (Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, the Intelligence Community, and NASA) gives her a unique perspective, helping companies understand the underlying policies and rationale for the government position

4 Ways to Create Value-Added Performance Reviews

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


The needs of the modern workforce have evolved. Has your performance review process done the same?

Many companies are holding onto traditional performance reviews because they think it adds value to their organization, even though in most cases research shows otherwise. Studies show that employees want development, motivation and recognition that will help them grow and benefit their companies. Incorporating these actions into the performance management process could equally benefit both the organization and their employees.

Whether you are reevaluating your current process, or thinking about implementing a new performance review process, consider these four tips: 

1) Define your objective - What is your intention or ultimate outcome you are trying to achieve. For example:
  • Are you seeking a method to differentiate performance and reward individual employee efforts through merit pay? 
  • Are you looking for a consistent method to provide employees with performance feedback? 
The answer to these questions would result in two very different performance review systems. The first would likely include a rating system that would differentiate employee’s performance outcomes, while the latter may simply be a structured format in which to provide feedback and doesn’t include a performance rating.

2) Determine frequency

The complexity of the process should help inform the frequency. Going through a rating process is time consuming and only realistic once or twice per year. However, we know that a modern workforce wants performance feedback much more frequently than that. Consider mid-cycle performance checkpoints that ensure employees are tracking towards their goals.

3) Keep it simple

Don’t over-complicate the process so much that it’s cumbersome for managers (and thus a deterrent) and confusing for employees. Stay true to your objectives and desired outcomes.

4) Make it meaningful

BambooHR reports that 4% of respondents feel that performance reviews motivate and engage employees. Instead, employees reported they prefer to be motivated through the following techniques:

Open and informal conversations
Getting raises
One-on-one’s geared more toward career path
Managers listening to their ideas and using them
Receiving more employee recognition

Incorporating these outcomes into your performance review process can be a win-win for all!





Article provided by Reagan Freed, Solvere HR Consulting

Reagan Freed is an accomplished HR executive with extensive experience supporting small, mid and large businesses develop people strategies that support organizational goals. Her experience ranges across a wide variety of industries including engineering, construction, telecommunications and business process outsourcing (BPO).

Solvere HR Consulting provides powerful HR solutions that optimize  your organizational capacity and profitability through your most valuable asset - you employees. Learn more at www.solverehr.com.




Will participation in social media really benefit your business?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017



The short answer is yes. But HOW you choose to approach your social efforts will definitely affect your success. From Facebook and LinkedIn, to Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pintrest – every platform has a niche audience and set of features that can assist you in delivering the right message to the right audience.

Getting Started

Before you begin any social media activity, it’s important to determine goals and a content strategy. Perhaps you’re developing a long-term campaign, or maybe just adding a short-term campaign to compliment your longer-term efforts. Regardless, it’s important to identify which platforms will make the most sense to help reach these goals and what type of content will yield the most success. Even more importantly, make sure you establish quantifiable, attainable goals. For example:

Have x number of social media mentions in a week
Increase Facebook likes by x
Increase LinkedIn followers by x
Have x number of people fill out our contact form in a month
Have x number of people download our content piece each week
A x increase in traffic from social media networks over 3 months

Understanding Your Audience

In order to set these goals, you’ll need to learn what is important to your audience. Unfortunately, most people are not going to be as passionate about the product you’re selling or the service you are offering as you are. However, they may be passionate about the results of your product/service or interested in how your product/service helps them. If you create content that illustrates what is actually important to your audience, you will find success. You can do this by digging into what your audience is talking about, discovering what content they regularly share, how often, and with whom. With this information you will be able to create a content piece that sincerely speaks to your audience.

Creating Interesting and Useful Content

Knowing your audience is key to developing content that will either educate or entertain. Though educational content is often very successful, sometimes people want to consume content about something that excites them, but won’t necessarily teach them something new. 
Content that entertains an audience can often create more engagement on social media. Everyone loves to laugh or smile every once in awhile! If you can elicit genuine emotion, the likelihood of them sharing your content is increased.

The key to developing engaging, shareable content is making sure there is a genuine interest. For example, if you send dog treat recipes to cat owners, the likelihood of engagement is really low. But if you create a video showcasing leash obedience training techniques to new dog owners, you’ll have a much higher probability of engagement. 

Make it Easy to Share

Social media platforms make it easy for your content to be shared. You should be aware of how these features work and optimize your content for this purpose. 
However, one key element for success is to have your content originate from a domain your own, like your company website or a blog. This way people can visit this location and share it in manner that works best for them. For example, if your blog has a social sharing toolbar – they can easily click this icon from within your domain and share it with their friends. In other words, don’t make your audience work to share your content – make it as easy as possible.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.






Joe Contrino is CEO of The Contrino Group, a direct marketing agency located in Lafayette, CO.

Joe is an award winning direct marketer with over 32 of years of experience.   Prior to founding The Contrino Group, Joe was a Senior Partner at Suite 700 Direct, Integrated Marketing Solutions Manager at Henry Wurst, Inc., and CEO and owner of Contrino Direct Marketing, Boulder, CO.

Joe is a Direct Marketing Association Certified Direct Marketer Professional, Industry Co-Chair of the Denver Postal Customer Council Board of Directors, and speaks regionally and nationally on direct marketing topics and trends.

No matter what your business is or who your customers are, the team at The Contrino Group can help you in all facets of communication. From acquisition and retention strategies, to segmentation, formats and touch strategies – we’ve done it all and have some great success stories to share. 

Lead Generation

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How important is lead generation to the success of your company?

Creating a successful lead generation plan can seem like a daunting task. But, continued success for most companies requires developing a sales funnel. And the key is to convert as many prospects as possible in the sales funnel into leads.

There are a number of opportunities to add prospects to the sales funnel. In fact, every time someone from your company comes in contact with a prospect, there should be a mechanism to capture their information. Whether someone is coming to your website for the first time, people you meet at trade shows, calls to the main line, etc., every name should be captured.  

Now, it’s easy to get lost figuring out how to start, what to do first and how to keep it going. According to Forrester, buyers might be anywhere from 60 - 90% of the way through the buying journey before they ever reach out to a company. With so much access to information on the Internet, buyers may delay talking to sales until they are experts themselves. All the more reason it’s important to create a successful lead generation program.

Before you begin, you’ll need to answer these five questions:

  1. Is my database “Lead Gen” ready? Make sure your database is clean, updated and includes, at a minimum, a physical mailing address, email address and phone number for each prospect.

  1. Is my list of prospects large enough? Knowing response rates are typically 5% or less, if you only have 1000 names then you can only expect 50 people to read your marketing materials on average. Converting those 50 people may only yield five or less leads you can pass on to sales. So, look to expand your database through data capture on your website, trade shows, events and other opportunities your company is engaged in.

  1. Do I have a flow of consistent data into the database? Each and every time your sales team in in contact with a prospect something new is learned. Be sure your sales reps are helping you by providing data with all your required fields, and other relevant information.

  1. Do I have buy-in from management? When setting out to develop any marketing program it’s critical to have alignment throughout the organization with regard to vision and action plan. This will undoubtedly lead to the success or failure of your campaign.

  1. Is the sales team on board with your marketing plan? The strategic alignment of the sales and marketing teams will increase efficiency and qualified leads. The sooner you get sales involved in the lead gen process, the more successful it will be.   

Generating a higher rate of sales-ready leads through a lead generation program is essential for today’s marketers. Take one step at a time and make sure you have enough time to successfully implement by building a communication schedule for your campaign.

Based on a three month long buying cycle your communication schedule could look something like this:

     Day 1 - Introductory email

     Day 10 - Email offering new content/related to website activity

     Day 15 - Personal email

     Day 28 - Email whitepaper

     Day 45 - Call from sales rep to ‘check in’

     Day 60 - Email promoting educational series

     Day 75 - Personal email/product demo

     Day 85 - Schedule in-person meeting

     Day 90 - Sales proposal via email

                                                                                                                            

Note: the communication becomes more frequent as the buying cycle progresses… This is based on the behavior of the individual in the campaign. There will be multiple paths an individual could take based on what they do/download. Test the effects of frequency with multiple campaigns – testing is often confined to email subject lines and content, but also testing frequency and timing can optimize your results dramatically.

Joe Contrino is CEO of The Contrino Group, a direct marketing agency located in Lafayette, CO.

Joe is an award winning direct marketer with over 32 of years of experience.   Prior to founding The Contrino Group, Joe was a Senior Partner at Suite 700 Direct, Integrated Marketing Solutions Manager at Henry Wurst, Inc., and CEO and owner of Contrino Direct Marketing, Boulder, CO.

Joe is a Direct Marketing Association Certified Direct Marketer Professional, Industry Co-Chair of the Denver Postal Customer Council Board of Directors, and speaks regionally and nationally on direct marketing topics and trends.

Is it Time to Revamp Your Website?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017



Maybe you’re new to the industry and have just gotten your first customers, or maybe you’ve been around and have a well-established customer base. No matter where you are on the road to business growth, your website plays a pivotal role in establishing the image of your company. So, how do you know if it’s time to revisit your website design? Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a website redesign:


  1. Is it clear what you do?

When you type your URL into your browser and your website comes up, what do you see? Your home page should include your logo and at least some photos of your company at work. You also need to include a short, jargon-free description of what you do. Consider including a chart or other graphics to illustrate your services.


  1. Is your interface user-friendly?

Can a 10-year-old navigate your website? The most user-friendly interfaces utilize easy navigation tools like a clearly visible menu and hyperlinked photos. Think about the easiest websites you have used: how does your website compare? If you would need to give detailed instructions to a fifth grader about how to use your website, it’s time for a redesign.


  1. Do your customers know where to look?

Send an anonymous survey to all your customers via email and ask them what they think of the website. If the feedback is generally good, you probably don’t need a redesign. However, you should reconsider your website layout if there are signs of confusion, frustration, or distaste with the interface. Note: surveymonkey.com is a great resource for creating free, anonymous surveys.


  1. What do your analytics tell you?

Analytics are an infinitely valuable resource. Pay attention to how long people are spending on your website and how many visits turn into sales. If a significant number of people aren’t spending at least a minute on your website and even less of those visits turn into sales, it’s time to change your website.


Your website is the backbone of your company, and if your customers don’t like your website, it can have a damaging effect on business. Make sure your website is good enough for your customers by analyzing the interface to make it the most user-friendly experience possible. It’s also important to make sure you know how to make edits on your website. If you have an employee or outside person who works on your website, ask them for tips on how to fix basic things. It’s important that the back end of your website is as user-friendly for you as the front end is for your customers.


Need help with website decisions? Curious about how to better your business through Google Analytics? Check out our available workshops HERE!



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