Monthly Archives: July 2011

Ten-Hut! Five Military Negotiating Tactics That Can Help You Get Ahead in the Office

By Kyle Stock

A new workplace is a foreign land, full of new customs, traps and potential allies and enemies.

The dynamic is not unlike situations faced every day by soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq (although the stakes are drastically lower). What’s the best way to proceed in such an environment?

To address that question, we checked in with Jeff Weiss, who has taught negotiation techniques to West Point cadets for eight years. Weiss, who is also a partner at Vantage Partners LLC, a Boston-based corporate negotiating consultancy, has drawn up a simple framework for soldiers, based on nearly a decade of interviews with former field commanders.

What he found is sound advice for new bosses looking to win buy-in from subordinates and corporate foot-soldiers hoping to climb the ladder or secure more power and money.

The most important advice? Tone down the swagger and strong-arm tactics, at least until they are called for. “Many of us walk around with a default setting and a belief that to be a good negotiator you should use threats, anchoring, bluffing, banging the table and a general show of power,” Weiss said. “Frankly, what I have seen in good negotiators — whether they are a 30-year-old captain in the Army or a 40-year old salesman — are folks that say ‘There’s a time and a place to do that, and it’s not often.'”

Keep that in mind at every step of Weiss’s five-point plan:

1. Get the Big Picture
Get a lay of the land at the outset, particularly the opinions and view-points of other parties. In other words, don’t dive in and try striking deals right away. Be humble and curious.

2. Uncover and Elaborate
Learn the motivations and concerns of other parties. Propose multiple solutions and invite your counterparts to improve on them.

3. Elicit Genuine Buy-in
Win others to your side with reasoned arguments, not power plays or brute force. Avoid threats.

4. Build Trust First
Directly linked to No. 4, this tactic is all about building a foundation of success. Don’t try to ‘buy’ support. Rather, make incremental commitments of good faith.

5. Focus on process
Forget about results, or lack thereof. Put your energy into having a healthy and robust discussion free from knee-jerk reactions.

Check out more of Weiss’s research here.

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How to Negotiate the Salary You Deserve

By Jane Porter

It’s a hirer’s market, but when it comes to salary negotiation, too often people sell themselves short simply because they don’t know how to tackle the compensation question. Whether you’re moving from one job to another or unemployed and looking for work, there are steps you can take to make sure you get the best possible salary offer, says Charlotte Weeks, Chicago-based career coach and resume writer.

“There [are] a lot of people out there who accept salaries lower than they could have gotten,” she says. “So many people don’t know how to negotiate.”

Here are some of the most common ways you can expect to encounter the salary question when applying for a job and the best ways to tackle the challenge:

Avoid Talking Numbers Early On
It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid answering the question of what salary you’re willing to settle for, whether on your job application or in the early stages of your interview, says Weeks. “Usually the first person to name a number doesn’t have the upper hand when negotiating,” she says. “If possible, it’s best to be a little vague.” On a job application she suggests writing “negotiable” in the space allotted for salary rather than a specific figure.

If you encounter this question in preliminary interviews, don’t be alarmed. “If we are talking salary early on, it means we are interested in pursuing that candidate further,” says Tami Vanderpool, recruiting Senior Manager at Citigroup. “What we want to avoid is putting the candidate in front of a hiring manager and they fall in love with them but we are $30,000 apart in expectations.”

When you hear the question early on, it’s wise to deflect your answer by talking about what you can offer the company instead. “When they are really interested in you, then you can start negotiating on salary,” says Lynne Eisaguirre, author of the book: We Need to Talk Tough Conversations with Your Boss: Tackle Any Topic With Sensitivity and Smarts.

Remember Where You’re Coming From
Your negotiating power will vary depending on your current employment situation. For instance, if are unemployed and applying for work, expect to earn approximately what your old salary was or slightly less, says Don Hurzeler, author of the book: The Way Up: How to Keep Your Career Moving in the Right Direction.

On the other hand, if you are being hired away from an existing position, Hurzeler doesn’t suggest settling for less than a 20% salary increase unless you are completely unhappy. “Why would you leave a situation you know for one you don’t know unless there is a breakthrough in salary?” he says.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Whether you’re moving from one job to another or unemployed and seeking work, you can expect to be asked about what you were making at your old job, so be ready with an answer.

One common mistake when talking about previous salary is forgetting to include benefits as part of your total compensation, says Hurzeler, an oversight that can hurt you in the negotiation process. For example, if you are earning $100,000 a year with a 20% bonus plus health, dental and other incidental benefits, you should answer the question by saying, “$120,000 plus generous benefits.”

This will prove useful if you find you’re not able to negotiate on the amount of money you’re earning. For example, if you’re coming from a job where you had five weeks of paid vacation to one where you will only have two, negotiating more time off might be easier than winning a higher salary, says Marsha Egan, a Pennsylvania-based career coach.

Have a Range Rather Than a Single Figure
When pressed for your salary requirements, you should always be sure to offer a range based on what others in the field are earning, rather than a single fixed number, says Karen Lawson, founder and president of Lawson Consulting Group, Inc., , a Pa.-based Management and organizational development consulting firm. That’s where doing your market research becomes critical.

Check out similar positions online and network with others in the field to determine the standard pay and what the higher end salary might be for such a role, says Weeks. For example, if you apply for a job that typically pays $40,000 a year but see it advertised as paying $48,000 occasionally, you can set your range at $40,000 to $50,000, she says.

Handling the Low-ball Offer
Employers expect you to negotiate, so don’t be anxious about countering a low offer, says Weeks. That’s why knowing the salary range for a position similar to yours in your geographic region is key, says Weeks. “That’s what you can use as your weapon for negotiating,” she says.

If you’re coming out of unemployment, don’t expect to have as much negotiating power, says Lawson. In fact, you might have to settle for less. Rather than outright rejecting a pay cut from your previous job, talk to your potential boss about revisiting the salary question once you’ve had time to prove yourself on the job, suggests Lawson. While you won’t be able to get it in writing, it’s worth asking if you can revisit the issue six months into the job, she suggests.

And don’t be too quick to let a low-ball offer close the door to a job opportunity. “If you get a job and can show your value, that money is going to come back to you down the road,” says Hurzeler.

Take Time to Decide
You might feel the pressure to jump on an offer right away, but it’s wise to take a few days to think about it before making a decision, says Egan. Be sure to ask for the offer in writing so that you can see how it breaks down in terms of salary and benefits. Request anywhere from a day to a week to decide, depending on the company’s time-frame.

“You never have to make a decision on the spot,” says Egan. “It’s a life decision.”

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DISCOUNTITUS, The Disease that’s sweeping the marketing community

Positioning Is the Only Cure

Published: July 06, 2011
Al Ries
Last month, J.C. Penney hired a new chief executive who used to run Apple stores. In a New York Times article, here’s how CEO Ron Johnson described his plans for Penney: “Take this great American brand and make it become something unbelievably exciting.”
Fat chance.
Most department stores are infected
You seldom see a department-store advertisement based on anything except a sale. The latest J.C. Penney ad was a six-page insert promoting a “Fourth of July sale.”
In addition to dozens of “super hot buys,” the insert features “Red Zone clearance, final-markdowns 80% off. New markdowns 50-70% off.” Also featured is “jcpCA$H,” offering consumers “$10 off any purchase totaling $25 & up.”
Belk, Dillards, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears and most mainstream department stores are also infected bydiscountitus.
Kohl’s, in particular. A typical mailing: “Start with these incredible sale prices of 20-60% off. Take an extra 15% off everything. Plus add a $5 bonus.”
Airlines to pizza to car insurance
In industry after industry, the discount is the focus of the advertising.
Here’s the opening dialog of a typical Progressive commercial featuring Flo and a potential customer.
“Are you a safe driver?”
“Yes.”
“Discount! Do you own a home?”
“Yes.”
“Discount! Are you gonna buy online?”
“Yes.”
“Discount!”
Over at Geico, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” Geico and Progressive are the biggest spenders in the category. Last year Geico spent $741 million on advertising. Progressive, $506 million. Longtime car-insurance leaders like State Farm ($453 million) and Allstate ($368 million) are lagging behind.
Penney vs. Apple
Over at J.C. Penney, if Ron Johnson plans to use an Apple strategy to turn his company around, it’s too late. Once discountitus has spread through an industry, it’s awfully hard to eradicate.
Take airlines. Yesterday, airline companies competed on the basis of who could build the better brand. Today, airline companies compete on the basis of who can offer the bigger discounts. No wonder Southwest Airlines is a big winner, and most airline customers can’t explain the difference between American, Delta and United.
One reason why discountitus is spreading so rapidly is the internet. Clipping coupons is being replaced by typing on keyboards. Groupon and the other daily-deal websites are only one factor. Anybody who owns a computer today can get competitive prices on a host of items almost instantly.
Unless you want to spend the rest of your life doing discount marketing, you should be asking yourself, “What’s the cure?”
Believers vs. agnostics
Take a closer look at the consumer a company is trying to reach with its advertising and PR.
Psychologically, consumers can be divided into two categories: 1) Brand believers and 2) Brand agnostics. And they vary by category. They can be believers in one category (ketchup) and agnostics in another category (airlines).
Watch believers go through the Sunday supplements. They only clip coupons for brands they already use.
Watch agnostics go through the Sunday supplements. They ignore brands and clip coupons for categories. (Extreme agnostics don’t buy anything without a coupon.)
Discountitus is turning brand believers into brand agnostics. The lure of a “big discount” is enough to seduce a consumer into thinking that all brands in the category are pretty much alike.
In categories that have not been seriously contaminated, the cure for discountitus is a dose of positioning. But as Prophet, a leading marketing consultancy, reported in its latest state of marketing study: “Positioning has always been about differentiation. But in this unfolding environment, differentiation is short-lived.”
We differ on that. The cure for discountitus is not differentiation. Nor is positioning essentially about differentiation, either.
Positioning is owning a word in the mind
As discountitus spreads its way through the marketing community, that word more often than not is “leadership.”
Leadership is what makes Google the most powerful brand in the “search” category. Leadership is what makes iPod the most powerful brand in the “MP3 player” category. Leadership is what makes Heinz, Hertz, Haagen-Daz, Hellmann’s, Home Depot and a host of other brands powerful in their categories.
But how to you get to be the leader? And how does the leader keep from catching the discountitus disease?
Launch a new brand in a new category
Over the past few decades, it’s become clear that the only way to become a leader is to launch a new brand in a new category.
Like Apple did with the iPad, the first tablet-computer. Currently, the iPad has some 75% of the tablet market.
An also-ran that has been line-extended to death has no hope of ever becoming the market leader. The best it can do is to narrow its focus to shore up a position in a segment of the category.
Has Pepsi-Cola ever substantially increased its share of the cola market with Pepsi-Cola Retro, Pepsi Throwback, Pepsi Twist, Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Raw, Pepsi A.M., Pepsi Kona, Pepsi Light, Pepsi Max, Pepsi XL, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi One or Crystal Pepsi?
No, it has not. In fact, regular Pepsi-Cola has fallen behind Diet Coke to third place in the cola category.
What’s next for Pepsi-Cola? More of the same. Pepsi Next.
Lower the boom on price
If you read the papers, you know the regular price of most products or services on the market today is “50% off.”
Every Thursday, our local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, features “This week’s best deals.” Last week, there were eight. One was “free.” One was “40% off” and the other six were “50% off.”
That’s not unusual. By far, the vast majority of daily deals are 50% off or BOGO — buy one, get one free.
When rumors of Apple’s imminent launch of a tablet computer circulated on the internet, the pundits predicted the product would be priced around a thousand dollars.
Apple surprised them with a list price of $495. The company lowered the boom at a level that competitors had difficulty getting under. Today, you find the table-computer market remarkably free of discountitus.
Apple used the same strategy with its iTunes brand by insisting on a 99-cent price. (Don’t feel sorry for Apple. The company is making its money on volume, not on margin.)
When you’re the leader in a category, you cannot be overtaken by a competitor who thinks differentiation is going to make a big difference.
And when you’re the leader in the category and you lower the boom on price, you can inoculate the category from the disease of discountitus.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm he runs with his daughter Laura.

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How FACEBOOK makes your global brand feel local

National Brands Are Only Beginning to Understand What Local Businesses Already Know About the Social Network

Published: July 18, 2011
Dave Williams
One of the greatest aspects of Facebook for marketers — maybe the greatest — is that consumers willingly share their information, opening the door to the precise targeting that advertisers dream of. Yet many brands still look at Facebook merely as a way to acquire fans, with little thought given to monetizing that list. Very few national or international brands take full advantage of Facebook’s targeting capabilities. At this point, between 60% and 70% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from small businesses.
Such businesses are realizing the benefits of targeting consumers on a local level, similar to the way small businesses take advantage of radio, newspaper and billboard advertising to drive local sales. National brands shouldn’t feel excluded — they, too, can engage their audiences on a more intimate level by targeting locally. And unlike traditional display, Facebook gives advertisers national scale on a very local level. Unfortunately, many are leaving this opportunity untapped.
There are multiple uses for localized display on Facebook, including local events, new store openings, holiday offers and other local promotions. Consider a cellphone service provider’s marketing strategy. In addition to the centralized national marketing team, such companies often have local marketing groups responsible for particular regions. Agencies typically like to maintain a single point of communication, pushing the local groups out of the Facebook advertising strategy.
But think of the possibilities for customizing on a local level: New store openings, local promotions, even extended 4G coverage in the region are all valuable opportunities to engage consumers on the local level. It makes little sense to ignore the local angle.
Localized creative is effective at generating awareness and ultimately driving people into stores, building higher order value, and powering transactions. Think of it like the Sunday circular that runs in the newspaper every week. Instead of buying ads in the paper, brands can push weekly specials out to localized audiences, and do so far more efficiently with mass reach and frequency.
We recently ran a campaign to promote a celebrity in-store appearance for a cell phone provider. By targeting the youth market in that region with customized Facebook display ads, we achieved a 0.26% click-through rate, relatively high for any type of display. That high CTR foreshadowed massive attendance at the in-store event, completely surpassing expectations.
Groupon and Living Social are two other companies that know how to effectively leverage this local display strategy, and you’ve undoubtedly seen one or both companies advertise deals in your city in Facebook’s right-hand column. Both companies have national reach, but their business model operates on a local level, so proper targeting pays dividends in scale.
Starbucks is the most popular global brand on Facebook in terms of fans, but it can still use local strategy effectively to maximize reach and frequency in high-density markets. Every Starbucks offers the same products, but consumers often develop relationships with the brand through their neighborhood location. Starbucks often leverages this brand association via campaigns that give consumers coupons for free pastries with a drink purchase. The campaign is national in scope, but it applies the advertising weight at a localized level to maximize consumer appeal and revenues when they visit their favorite Starbucks store.
Nor is local limited to geographic targeting. Brands can target students at specific colleges and universities with unique back-to-school offers, introducing new residents to the local franchises. This is a popular strategy as brands compete for share of mind and wallet of students as they return to school this fall.
Brands traditionally disregard local online advertising because it seems time-consuming and difficult to scale. Localized websites draw small audiences, which offer very little ROI. Facebook, on the other hand, makes it easy to look at which percentage of the population will see your local message, and then build a national campaign customized and targeted on a local level at a reach and scale not previously attainable through traditional display or search advertising.
The local companies currently running campaigns on Facebook rely on the social network’s self-serve ad tool. That’s great for small companies trying to reach a few thousand consumers, but it breaks down for brands trying to reach tens of thousands of people in multiple locales. Doing that requires an entire team customizing and targeting the creative, and there’s just no way to make money that way. Facebook’s direct-sales team doesn’t offer local customization because of the time required.
Fortunately, companies with access to Facebook’s Ad API can automate the process, giving brands fully customized campaigns for individual locations on national (or even international) scale with customized targeting and creative at a fraction of the time and effort.
Marketing on a local level maximizes the impact of your marketing campaigns on Facebook by minimizing advertising waste and maximizing your reach and frequency with the right audiences, making the brand offering more appealing. Customizing an ad makes your brand message relevant to a consumer on a level where he or she can easily engage and take action. It combines the reach and targeting capabilities of Facebook in order to maximize brand awareness and drive consumers into an actual location to make a purchase — which is, after all, the purpose of marketing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Williams is the CEO of Blinq Media.

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