How To Start Marketing Your Business

To new business owners, starting a business is often its own reward. They are thrilled to be able to be their own bosses, and to successfully get a business up and running. Often they are happy just to keep the dream alive.But every business needs to grow. That doesn’t mean you have to reach out to a larger market – it means working toward increasing your share of the one you are targeting. This will keep your business healthy enough to survive obstacles such as tough economic times.In order to keep moving forward, we need to market our businesses constantly. We need to dedicate a certain percentage of our resources to building our brand and reaching our target market. Here are some simple things you can do to help your business grow.Have a clear picture of your target market. Find out what types of people use the products and services you provide and respond to your business philosophies. If you’re not marketing to the right people, all will be lost.Research, research, research. Determine how to best reach your target market and what they expect out of your offerings. Study your competition carefully, and make note of what they’re doing right and wrong.Choose your marketing channels wisely.If your target market rarely reads, there’s no point in advertising in a magazine. Use what you’ve learned about them to find the best possible outlets for your message, and focus your marketing efforts there.Give your advertising a chance. Studies show that consumers require repeated exposure to a product before they will even consider buying. So don’t be surprised if one ad run doesn’t bring spectacular results. If you’ve done your homework and found a viable way to reach your market, run the ad at least two more times before you evaluate the results.Take advantage of free publicity. Sending out press releases and finding other ways to attract the media will give you high-quality exposure, and it won’t eat into your budget.Keep track of the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. If what you’re doing is working, you should be generating more revenue. Use some of that revenue to do more marketing. If it isn’t working, make adjustments and try again.Sometimes you’ll have to take a step back with your marketing plans. But that’s not a sign you’ve failed. It’s a sign that you’re a smart marketer. Sometimes the market changes, and it’s up to us to monitor those changes and adjust our marketing plans accordingly. No successful company markets the same way forever. By evolving with our target market, we can make our marketing work better.

How to Better Engage Hiring Managers in Your Recruiting Process

One of the most common challenges I hear from the HR professionals I talk with is how to better engage their hiring managers in the recruiting process. The hiring manager is one of the most important stakeholders in the recruiting process, but they are often the hardest to effectively engage in the process. It really isn’t that surprising, since most hiring managers are primarily focused on the operations of their unit and often don’t have a great deal of time to devote to recruiting.Here are some tips on how to better engage your hiring managers in the recruiting process.Collaborate with Managers up-front to determine good initial screening questions and criteriaEspecially in today’s economy the chances are good that you will receive a flood of applicants to any job you post online. In many processes the recruiter screens the initial applicants and only passes the top candidates on to the manager for feedback. In order to find the best candidates and make sure top candidates don’t slip through the cracks, you should set up some good screening questions and criteria for the recruiter to use.Some questions can be pulled directly from the job posting you created, which you carefully composed such that it attracted the right type of candidate. For example:
Do you have a Bachelors degree?
How many years experience do you have in direct sales?
Are you willing to travel up to 50%?
Other questions may require deeper analysis and a discussion with the manager about what makes an ideal candidate or who has succeeded in this role in the past. For example:

What do you like most about being a salesperson?
Please describe your home office equipment and environment (i.e. for a telecommute position)
Describe a recent time when you had to respond to a customer issue and what steps you took to solve the problem.
These questions can be asked during an initial phone screen or interview. But many Applicant Tracking Systems are able to streamline the process by asking applicants to answer these questions during their online application. For example, with a well designed system the recruiter is able to create any number of screening questions to pre-screen job applicants, and even score the responses automatically and “knock-out” applicants who are unqualified.Make it easy for Managers to review candidates A few years ago I was the manager at a company that used an Applicant Tracking System to streamline their recruiting process. Everything worked great – recruiters posted jobs online, applicants applied and were pre-screened and scored, and everything was stored in a central database which both the recruiter and manager could access.The problem was when it came time for me to go in and review applicants to my job, it was so cumbersome that the process would grind to a halt. Each person I had to review took 5-10 clicks to get to their information, the system was sluggish and unresponsive, and it was difficult to submit and view feedback on the candidate. I remember wishing for the “good old days” when I would just get a paper resume on my desk!Managers are busy just like the rest of us and if you don’t make the review process simple and quick they won’t use it, or it will delay your time to hire. Here are some questions to ask to make sure your review process is easy for managers to use:

How many people will the manager need to review? Will they be receiving every single applicant to your job or only the top candidates that the recruiter sends them?
If managers will only be reviewing top candidates, how easy is it for the manager to find and view their information? How many clicks does it take before they are viewing the candidate’s resume. How many clicks to move to the next resume to review?
How easy is it for the candidate to submit feedback on a candidate, and view the feedback of others?
Does the process require the manager to login to your recruiting system to view candidates, or are you able to send them resumes through email to collect reviews? Many managers don’t want to memorize another login to another system and would greatly prefer to receive candidates via email.
Collect better feedback through forms and questionnaires Many applicant review processes consist of the recruiter emailing a resume to a manager with the single question “What do you think?” While there’s nothing wrong with this simple approach, there are advantages to collecting more structured feedback from managers through a questionnaire or form.When you ask somebody what they think of a particular movie, you’ll likely get back a black-or-white answer like “it was great!” or “it was awful”. But if you ask them to rate a movie on a scale of 1-5 on some key criteria (story, acting, music, costumes, etc) you’ll get a much richer review and separation between other movies they may have reviewed.The same applies to reviewing candidates. When you ask a manager to answer structured questions and provide numeric rating on a candidate, you’ll force them to think broadly about the candidate and not just provide their first-impression. Ideally if you are going to use manager review forms and questionnaires in your process, you will want to streamline the collection of the data with online questionnaires, ideally in an Applicant Tracking System. And once again, it needs to be easy for the manager to complete the questionnaire or they won’t use it.In an applicant tracking system, you can create Manager Feedback Questionnaires and have them asked directly on the page where the manager views the candidate’s resume and other information.Support different levels of involvement from your managers Finally, every manager will have his or her own style and will likely want a different level of involvement in the recruiting process. Some managers are very “hands-off” and just want the recruiter to find a good candidate for their department with the least amount of work on their part. Others are very “hands-on” and want to see every single candidate that comes in and decide themselves which ones meet the initial qualifications.As such, you should keep in mind that whatever process you put in place should be flexible enough to accommodate the requests of different hiring managers. For a manager who wants to delegate to the recruiting group, you should be able to send them only top-candidates, already pre-screened, for them to interview. For a manager who wants to be more involved, you should be able to set it up so that person can see all applicants and see everything that’s happening in the system.If you are implementing an Applicant Tracking System, make sure it has flexible workflow support to allow you to implement these types of different processes efficiently.

A Complete Rethinking Of The Very Concept Of Education

Never before has American education been in as precarious a situation as it seems to be at present. For over ten years now we have seen many governors’ summits, and a host of commissions, committees, panels, unions, boards and business executives trying to warn citizens that American schools have become dysfunctional and are in dire need of repairs. And for over ten years the results of student performance have worsened despite the billions being spent to stop the downward trend. Perhaps the time has come to stop and try to examine the problem rationally. It is not the first time that American education has reached a threshold at which only radical solutions seem to be called for. This time, however, reformers are calling for a systemic reform, a complete rethinking of the very concept of education. As politicians, educators, academicians, psychologists, sociologists, and CEOs entered the fray, the well-intentioned movement became murky and increasingly chaotic. It soon became clear that the reformers truly intended a clean sweep of what education had meant to Americans.

The acquisition of knowledge for its own sake, the study and appreciation of great works by outstanding minds and artists, the acquisition of communication and mathematical skills, the objective search for scientific knowledge, the analysis and assimilation of ideas and ideals that enabled western civilization to serve as a beacon for the rest of the world, all of this was suddenly declared superficial, politically motivated, artificial, and unneeded. The new education was to turn from such academic trivia to preparing the new person for the 21st century, a person aware of the leading role that was to be played by the new technology which in some way will take care of all the other academic “frills” that had marked the progress of the old education, the education of the past.

The search for truth, which was at the heart of the traditional academy, was to be replaced by the promotion of the social and emotional growth of the individual while preparing him or her for the demands of the “real life.” As a result, a bevy of researchers and educators started scurrying around for a system that would accomplish this. A goldmine seemed to be struck when a group of sociologists and educators, with the assistance of politicians and business executives, came across a program that had been around for some time and that had close connections with Dewey’s “progressive education.” Known as Outcome Based Education, it called for a much greater emphasis on the affective dimension of the educational process at the expense of the old academic rigors. Basing itself on the conviction that it’s a disproven theory that children must first learn basic skills before engaging in more complex tasks, the stress was now to be placed on the “more complex tasks.”

The educational process was to move from concepts to facts rather than vice versa. This called for a complete revamping of teaching methods. Instead of the teacher being an authoritative figure in the front of the class, he or she was to be a “coach” or “facilitator” helping the class to discover knowledge in small groups working on one or more projects. Working together in groups would prepare students for the team approach used by industry. It would also “level the playing field” so that the disadvantaged would have the same opportunity as others in the learning process. This brings us to the two dominant mantras of the new education. One is that it must foster self-esteem; the other that “it takes a whole village to raise a child.” The first requires that students must acquire the attitudes, values, and feelings that would lead to a smooth, painless transition to the “real life,” as defined by experts; the second requires that the child’s entire community participate in defining his or her education. As for assessing the results, standardized tests are out for the most part. Whatever testing is done must be supplemented by portfolios containing a student’s work record that follows him or her throughout his or her schooling and beyond. In short, primary emphasis is place on the student’s ability to process information rather than to acquire and to retain knowledge of content material or a discipline.

The general movement is from academics to behavioralistic concerns, from the cognitive to the affective domain. The sharp contrast with “traditional education” is obvious without going into further detail. Since the results so far can only be called dismal, should we not mark time for a while to see where we are going? Should self-esteem be the ultimate goal of education? Should the “whole village” be involved in defining a child’s education? Should the idea of knowledge acquisition defer to the acquisition of skills for the new technology? Has the concept of education become so controversial that it calls for a new definition? The two great revolutions that shook the world, the French revolution of the 18th century and the Industrial Revolution of the 19th, tried in vain to redefine education. The passage of time inevitably justified a return to the time-tested concept of the educated person developed by the ancients and the European Renaissance. The latest example of this occurred shortly after World War II when the Soviet Union suddenly seemed to be outpacing us in the new technology with the launching of Sputnik in 1957. No less than the American commander-in-chief responsible for the defeat of Hitler agreed that rather than have American education turn to the wholesale training of technical experts, it should continue stressing the liberal arts and the development of well-rounded citizens. The payoff came with the fall of the Soviet empire. It has also come in the form of the amazing continuation of Americans winning more Nobel prizes than the rest of the world combined.

In a new study recently published by two professors with impressive credentials, we even find the incredible thesis that the entire substructure supporting the current educational reforms is based on faulty and unsubstantiated research and statistics. The study challenges the notion that American schools are failing and are inferior to European schools. The authors ask how Americans could possibly have escaped the conclusion that education in this country is in a deplorable state. The authors then proceed to present statistics supporting their conclusions. Even granting that their handling of the statistics has been seriously questioned, the main thesis is still valid. Does the success of American education over the last two centuries justify the sudden storm of criticism directed at our schools? The call for a complete overhaul and “reinvention” must certainly be approached with great care. Such a radical approach may well affect not only the general direction but the basic philosophy of an educational system that has given our country the leadership in almost every area of human endeavor. We thus come to the basic question that must be asked. What should be the basic purpose of American education? Is it to prepare for adult life, and, if so, what do we want adult life to consist of? Or is it to fulfill the promise contained in our Declaration of Independence: the guarantee of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Could it be the ancient adage of Know Thyself? A Renaissance sage considered virtue the only constant in mortal affairs because she alone “can make blessed those who embrace her and wretched those who forsake her.” He defined virtue as the capacity “to feel rightly about God, and act rightly among men.” Given the recent interest in the teaching of character, should virtue be education’s primary goal? Can any or all of these be summarized in the concept of wisdom? And don’t most or all of them fall in the category of what has been considered “academics” since the days of Plato and Socrates?

It is essential that we measure what progress has been made before proceeding. We therefore respectfully urge the leaders of future Summits to use their influence to make certain that the radical programs being thrust upon schools in an attempt to “reinvent” education nationally be carefully reexamined. Schools have already been overburdened by the intrusion of social services, health services, special interest groups and the attempt to make them all-purpose community centers. We must not blur the distinction between “schooling” and “education.” Any Summit that does not take into account the opinions of those parents, taxpayers, and citizens who are rightfully skeptical of what has transpired in the last ten years of the reform efforts is bound to create further tensions and misunderstandings that could lead to the crippling of the American school.