Opening Doors Blog

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#4 Now is not the time for outdated and ineffective policies - If there was ever a time to ensure your policies are legally compliant and effective, now is that time.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.
sexual harassment


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.

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. 

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!


4 Reasons Why Effective Job Descriptions Add Value to Your Business

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Effectively developed job descriptions are communication tools that greatly contribute to your organization's success. Poorly written employee job descriptions, on the other hand, add to workplace confusion, hurt communication, and may leave employees unsure of what is expected from them. Further, having a written description of duties accomplishes many important things that protect your business and positions you for success:

 

1)      Legal Protections. If a dispute arises over job duties, the job description will be used to settle the matter. An accurately written job description may avoid potential lawsuits and defend a termination decision for an employee who did not satisfactorily meet the requirements of the job.


2)      Reward & Recognition. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities provide the basis for employee reviews, salary increases, setting goals, and growth paths. Employers also use job descriptions during evaluations for raises, promotions and recognizing employees that go above and beyond.


3)      Employee Compensation. A job description serves as a reference guide when determining comparable industry salaries and helps maximize dollars spent on compensation for the position by ensuring experience and skills needed for the job are detailed.

4)      Recruiting the Right Talent. Job descriptions provide the foundation for effective job advertisements and developing interview questions that ensure you are screening and selecting candidates with the skills and experience necessary for the position.


“Other Duties as Assigned” is the most important element of a job description.

Make certain employee job descriptions have enough flexibility so individuals can "work outside of the box." Ideally, employers are hiring highly motivated and skilled employees who are eager to do more than just their assigned tasks. But not all workers are as dedicated to their jobs or the companies. Employees who refuse to do more than their job description specifically states can create avoidable headaches for their employers.


By including “other duties as assigned” to a job description, the employer has flexibility to add new tasks to the position as needed. You want people who are comfortable taking reasonable chances and stretching their limits. You don't want to encourage people to think, "That's not my job."


Finally, job descriptions should always include an “Employee Signature” at the bottom. All employees should sign to demonstrate acknowledgement of their job description. Signed copies should be retained in the employee file. 





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 capability and profitability through your most valuable asset -- your employees. Learn more at www.solverehr.com.


Marketing Tactics: Segmentation

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

  What’s so important about segmentation?

The simple answer: If everyone was the same we could sell anything to anyone the same way. But this is not the case. Surely your product or service offering is not a one size fits all model. When we segment messaging, or offers, to key groups of people, the results are better.

There are five key practices to consider when segmenting your data. They are:

1. Audience segmentation

Know who is buying your product and/or services. But don’t stop there. It’s equally important to determine who is making the decision. For example, data shows on the consumer side that women in the household make the financial decisions. But, at the same time, it may be the man who is doing the research and deciding which products to consider. On the business side, a human resources executive may be looking for a solution, but the CFO is making that final purchasing decision. And this is where segmentation becomes so important. In other words, the end user who may not be the decision maker is most concerned with features, but the final decision maker may be more concerned with cost and value.   

Fact: Segmented email campaigns produce nearly a 29% higher open rate and a nearly 50% click through rate than undifferentiated messages --MarketingProfs.com

2. Demographic segmentation

Once you’ve identified your audience you need to go another level down and segment based on demographic. For example, if you’re a car manufacturer you can’t always market your highest-level model. You’ll need to understand the audience better and consider factors like geography, household income (HHI), gender and more. This way, you can market the high-end to the higher HHI groups, the base models to the lower HHI groups, and perhaps all-wheel-drive models to geographical locations that have winter driving conditions. The fact remains that you can segment your list in an infinite number of ways. So you’ll need to be methodical and test everything you do.

3. Behavioral segmentation

Behavioral segmentation is a key to testing your efforts. Once you have segmented your audience, you can begin to segment future communication based on their actions. For example: for the group that has not responded, you’ll need to create a new message in hopes of getting their attention. Then there’s the group that may have responded, but not converted into a sale. You’ll need to send them a new message that gives them more reason to take the next step. There are a variety of tools to help you understand the data, so be sure you set up your campaign in a way that allows you to track actions made by your audience.  

Fact: “Segmenting the data for one client produced a smaller mailing resulting in a cost savings of 37% with a 32% increase in response.” – Nonprofit client

4. Segmented landing pages 

Once your direct communication has done its job and brought your audience to your website, you begin to have more control over continued messaging. How you manage this becomes a key factor in converting visitors to sales. Using the latest technology, your website can be set up to recognize customers individually when they visit. By doing this you are able to control what they see, using dynamic content to deliver a highly personalized experience. From simple messages like “Welcome John”, to displaying specific products or services, you want your first hit to be as impactful as possible. There is no doubt you have seen this on some of your favorite retail sites – but when it’s done well you might not even realize it.

5. Predictive modeling

Sometimes what we’ve learned in the past can be leveraged to help us succeed faster in the future. By leveraging predictive modeling, the ability to save significant costs by targeting marketing campaigns to a smaller universe of prospects that generate a higher ROI versus marketing to a larger universe of prospects becomes possible. A predictive database model looks at existing and past customer behavior and predicts future buying behaviors. 

By using a client’s existing sales data we can identify:

     The customers that are most likely to buy and at what price

     The most likely first time customers among prospect records

     The current customers that are likely to become lapsed customers

In today’s hyper-competitive environment, marketers must significantly improve the impact of every marketing dollar spent. And communicating the right offers to the right people at the right time - through the right channels – is key to optimized results.

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.


5 Useful Apps for Small Business Owners

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

In today’s society, technology is everything. People use it to track their finances, communicate with everyone, track their health goals, and even wake them up in the morning. Technology can come in all forms, and small business owners have many opportunities to take advantage of the ever-advancing technological world. Apps are an easy and effective way to utilize technology, so here are five apps that are great for small business owners:

 

  1. Gusto: Similar to Quickbooks, Gusto is an app that streamlines the entire payroll, tax, and benefits process. The app can help you with employee onboarding by automatically reporting new hires to the government along with their tax information. The app costs a base of $36 per month plus $6 per month per employee, but if accounting isn’t your thing, Gusto is worth every penny.

  2. Slack: Slack is a communication platform you can use to keep in contact with all of your employees. You can create groups based on projects or departments, and keep track of workflow. You can also use the app to send direct messages, and there’s no limit to how many employees you can add. You can try Slack for free or get more features for only $8 per month.

  3. RescueTime: This app tracks and records how much time you spend on different sites. You will receive daily reports on how you spent your time that day, which is great for improving efficiency. You can get the app for free, but for $72 per year, you get access to added features like alerts and the ability to block websites.

  4. Square: For businesses like food trucks, retail shops, or salons, Square is a great go-to payment app. Users receive a portable card reader that they can attach to any mobile device for easy payments. Square costs $49 upfront and 2.75% per transaction, but it’s free to download and works on all devices.

  5. MailChimp: MailChimp is an email managing app that can help you send out newsletters and other mass communications over email. This email marketing app can help you keep track of all your contacts on email lists. Pricing depends on the number of subscribers you have, so look at the website for more information.

 

Being a small business owner means you have to wear a lot of hats. These apps can help you get organized, communicate with your employees and customers, and keep track of payroll and workflow, so take advantage of them because you can!

 


Sign up to stay in touch!

Sign up to get relevant news and updates regarding small business delivered to your inbox.