Remember social media networking takes time, the more involved in it you and your organisation become, the more time it will take. The more successful you become within the social media world, the more interactivity you encourage, the more successful you will become but it will take still more time. So, the key success factors for any strategy come into play with social media – know what you want, have a clear end goal and then find myriad ways to achieve it.
Begin with the End in Mind
Strategy isn’t the end goal – It’s the path you take to get to that end goal. So, first you need to think about setting some goals for your Social Media work. What do you want to achieve (end goal) by getting involved in social media. Remember, social media is highly measurable, but also include softer goals such as building a strong community, loyalty, trust and interactivity around your brand. Don’t measure your Social Media strategy solely in terms of percentages or ROI.So, let’s look at some basic goals you can achieve through Social Media:
• Increase customer base
• Generate leads
• Drive sales
• Build awareness
• Make money from your content
• Establish thought leadership
• Educate customers
• Reach new channels of customers
• Improve internal communication
Questions Before the Strategy
Before you go too far down any one path, you need to ask some basic questions:
• Are your key customer groups or influencer groups likely to be online?
• How are you going to add value through their online contact with you?
• How do you plan to engage them online through your new social media platform? Interactivity is key to repeat visits but it’s not all about selling.
• How well suited is your brand to the Social Media environment?
• Which Social Media platforms are you planning to include in your strategy? LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogging, Podcasting, Twitter etc
• What measures will you use to determine the success or failure of your strategy?
• How long are you going run with this new strategy before you call it a success or failure?
• Who has overall responsibility for each area? It’s critical that each message you send out to the market is aligned with your brand story and that you react to any feedback/comments/queries quickly.
• How will you incorporate this into people’s daily jobs getting them actively enthused?
• Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs, podcasts and videos allow for external comments, not all of which will be good, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.
Even looking at those few questions will tell you a lot about your business and whether or not Social Media is actually a good fit for you and your internal capabilities at this stage.
Where are you going? How are you going to get there? How do you know you’ve arrived? Simple?If you’re going to put a social media strategy into place, you need to know where you’re going (end goal), align and develop the paths you’re going to take (which platforms, who’s responsible, how to engage), measure the journey (what factors signify success or failure) and funnel all this back into the original strategy as you proceed, to make it more robust, better targeted and more effective as you move forward.
First Step to Social Media Success
Listen…!Seriously, before you start developing a Social Media strategy for your organisation – Listen…Listen to what’s going on in your market – who’s playing in Social Media?What are they saying? What platforms are they using? How are they bringing value to their communities? How are their brands represented and their stories told? What are they doing and how can you do it better?Also, have a listen to what the market is saying about you – even before you begin to court feedback through actively engaging in Social Media the market may be talking about you – you need to know what people are saying.
Have a look a couple of basic listening tools:
Google Reader and Google Alerts – set these up on your iGoogle home page so you can instantly see when someone mentions you. Don’t just set your alerts for your company name; use your own name, names of people on your team, directors, influencers, clients etc. Set up alerts for business areas where you are the leader, events that you run – anything that will relate to your organisation and will give you feedback on market reactions.
Technorati – Go to www.Technorati.com, search for your company (again using product, brand, personal names) in the search bar, and see what people are saying about you. Note the little orange RSS subscription button in the upper right. Copy that link location (Right click the link and say “Copy Link” or however your browser words that). Now, put that into Google Reader as one of your listening searches. Repeat this for your competitor’s name, brand, individuals, and some industry terms (make them succinct).
Google Blogsearch – Go to Google Blogsearch and do the same thing. Sure there will be some overlap, but it’s important to capture both. The subscription to searches link is on the left hand side about 1/3 down the page.
Try Summize – if you’re thinking about using social networks and social media, it’s likely that some of your customers are using Twitter. If so, go to Summize and put in your search terms there, too. Input as many searches as you need, copying the RSS feeds and putting them into Google Reader as above. Build a strong catalog of searches initially, you can prune the bad or ineffective ones after you have tried it for a while.
About You!What do you think? What else should we work into this “Starting a Social Media Strategy” piece to make it more useful to your needs?
Start promoting your business blog today with these five effective tips from TopRank: 1. Involve influential industry bloggersBy linking to popular blogs, you can gain the attention of both the influential blogger and his or her readers. But your blog won’t be the only one to benefit. You’ll be giving the other blog a little link juice – and be paying them a compliment at the same time. 2. Promote your blog via social mediaIf your organisation already has a solid presence on Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels, leverage your followers or fans to promote your new blog.For example, when a new post goes live, create a short tweet with a link back to the post – and provide the link on your Facebook fan page. 3. Create “link-bait” posts and “sticky” headlinesCreating compelling headlines or posts that resonate with social web users is another way to garner attention for your new blog… who can resist a “Top 5 Tips…” article? 4. Promote the blog on your corporate websiteIt’s important to gain some valuable real estate on the homepage of your corporate site – particularly in the early stages of getting a new blog up and running. Create a button with a link to the blog to appear on the homepage, or at the least provide a link to the blog in the navigation of the site. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find your blog.5. Promote the blog offlineFor all of the online channels available to promote your blog, there are just as many offline channels to leverage. Don’t limit yourself to the online world.Instead:Add your blog URL to business cards.Promote your blog at industry events.Get print publications to pick up blog posts.Use word of mouth to let customers and business partners know of the new blog.Include the blog URL in the boilerplate of press releases (and in online releases, too).Of course, these five tips are just a few of many ways to promote and market business blogs. Whatever promotional efforts you choose, look for tactics that will help you reach business goals whether they are increasing awareness, garnering buzz in the media or driving additional website traffic.Here’s the full article from Toprank…What tactics have you used to promote your blog? We’re launching our new Social Media Marketing Service in Paril – call us on +353 1 236 0909 to chat through any questions you may have on social media or blogging.
In today’s cluttered, hypercompetitive marketplace your business can’t afford to make a poor first impression. Every touch point that leads to your company needs to impress, motivate and inspire a prospective customer. You may have a great product or service, but to be taken seriously, clients need to believe that you’re on the same playing field as the bigger guys. Even if you’re a consultant that works from a home office, you’ll need to position your company as a polished brand that touts confidence, experience and quality. Fear not. Here are five simple tips for branding your business to create the illusion that it is a global corporation with an army at the ready — all without breaking the bank.1. WebsiteYour website is the center of your brand universe. Simplicity is the key to looking like a big fish. Less is more. A clean, easy-to-navigate two-page site with useful content will make your company look far more established than a cluttered 20-page site with long-winded fluff. Design your site with the needs of your user in mind, not your ego. Sites that try to be everything to everyone will often become nothing to anyone.Choosing the right URL (Domain Name) is also a vital part of your brand positioning strategy. Your main URL should be as short as possible. Long URLs are harder to remember, harder to read and are more likely to be spelled incorrectly. There is a reason why apple.com isn’t weloveapplecomputers.com.2. Contact NumbersHow often have you seen a billboard or heard a radio spot that advertises an easily forgettable phone number? Phone numbers should be catchy and easy to remember. Using a catchy number is a great way to increase sales call volume, build brand awareness and increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Not only is it easy for potential clients to remember but it’s easy for them to pass on too.3. Automated Phone SystemsCombining an easy number with automated phone systems and virtual assistants enables small businesses to look and sound professional and capable. You never miss a call, the caller’s details or their query – nor are you caught dashing into a meeting with a mobile sounding like the caller is the last person you want to speak to! This also small-business owners and employees the ability to receive calls in their home offices or on their mobile devices when they choose, while appearing to be available in their office. Which brings me to…4. Virtual OfficesEven though you might be answering a call on your mobile phone from your living room, it’s important that your customers believe they are contacting a competent established and trustworthy business. Virtual offices are an effective solution for businesses that conduct most of their day-to-day communications via phone calls and emails, and rarely need to meet their clients in their own offices. This is especially the case for smaller companies based in more remote areas who are targeting larger urban based clients. These larger clients would often rather deal with fellow urban based suppliers and a Virtual Office address can enable your brand to be seen as being London based, for example, without having to actually be there.5. The Business CardNow you have a slick website, a memorable phone number and a captain-of-industry street address. It’s time to combine all of those elements into a single tool. The business card is a vital part of the first impression experience and an instant reflection of you and your company’s work. A cheap, uninspired business card will send the wrong message to a prospective customer. Spend time designing a card. Be creative, yet tasteful. Choose a thicker card stock with a high quality finish. Remember, there is a reverse side! Use this effectively to show examples of your work, bullet points of your services, your web address etc. Make sure that you are able to write on your card – people often make notes about you or your company on the card to remind them of salient details of your service, so stay away from very high gloss finishes. Customers want to do business with companies that demonstrate their ability to provide high quality services, and a creative business card will send them that message.
Learning to communicate is one of life’s most basic lessons… but how many of us do it effectively?One of the earliest lessons to learn in business is “Stick to your knitting” – Do what you are really good at and you will do well. But that’s only the start. You may know what you do well, you may understand all the nuances of your offering, the benefits you bring, the functionality, the service levels and the target audience – But does the market know? How can you succeed in business now when budgets are slashed and people really just don’t want to meet another supplier?The key is to communicate; effectively, cleverly and consistently. This doesn’t need to cost you anything, just a bit of time, attention and imagination. Remember your business doesn’t have to be different – you just need to do things in a different way. This article looks at the four Cs of effective communication that Redstorm uses in all our communications strategies. Use these four Cs to sharpen and target your communications whether you’re a sole trader or an international bluechip.Do your communications pass the 4Cs test?1. Crisp and ClearHow do you describe who you are and what your business does? Let’s go back to that dot com favourite the “Elevator Pitch”. Can you describe what you do (and your benefits) to someone not in your industry in 30 seconds or less? When you go to a networking event and you meet a promising prospect, does your description of your business hold that person’s attention? Do they actually understand what you do, well enough to explain it to someone else? Or do their eyes glaze over or wander across the room? “Crisp and Clear” is key to getting your message across and getting it understood and valued. Being crisp is about telling people what you do in as few words as possible and being clear means they take away the same message as the one you think you are giving… you’d be astonished how often this is NOT the case!2. Customer-CentricThe most important aspect of all communications is knowing your target audience, being “Customer Centric”. Know what they want, what they are trying to achieve in their own businesses and the types of products/services they may need. But even more important, try to get to know what they fear, what keeps them awake at night – to identify the benefits they would most value from you. This will enable you to tightly target your communications to smaller groups, leading to a better uptake of your message because it’s highly relevant , easier measurement of your campaigns and therefore decreased spend due to increased efficacy of your communications overall.3. Colourful ContentThere is so much noise and bustle in the communications space now that in order to grab some attention for your company your communications must have Colourful Content – tell them a story they will associate with. What makes your message worthy of attention? Is there an angle you can put on it to make people come on board? Can you inject a bit of excitement/colour into your communications to blast through all the other communications people come across every day?4. ConsistentOnce you get your message “Crisp and Clear”, ensure it’s “Customer Centric” and “Colourful”; that message needs to flow through all your communications – verbal, visual, written and web – it must be consistent! Everyone working with you needs to know what the message is and how it’s being communicated – Watch out especially if you’re a small company… NEVER assume your team knows what’s going on just because there are only 5 of you! In a larger company it’s critical to get strong internal communications running to ensure every team going into the market is singing the same song.The more consistent your communications, the stronger your brand becomes because people instantly see the brand and understand who you are, what you do and the benefits they will get from working with you. Re-establish this with EVERY customer interaction throughout the company. Reinforce your story as often as possible.Make Your Next Campaign CountEvery business is feeling the pinch so money is tight BUT marketing is key to the survival of your business so each and every bit you do counts. Have a look at the last campaign you did – even as simple as a round of emails to lapsed clients. Did it follow the 4 Cs? Was it Crisp and Clear, Customer-Centric, Colourful and Consistent?
Here are a few steps for how to maintain your sanity while using social media tools effectively:
1. Learn the differences, know what each tool is good for
Each social media tool has its own personality, its own community of enthusiasts, its own speed and frequency. Take the time to learn them. Log on, create a personal profile and “listen” for a while. Join groups that are of personal interest to you and watch how people share information. Learn first-hand how the tool is used by others before using it for your business.
2. Stay focused on your goals and know your audience
While social media tools can reach and influence millions of people as they did for the Obama campaign, for most small businesses, this is not the point. Don’t get sucked into the hype and forget your main communications goals. Perhaps you need to find and build a few key relationships, or reach a few tens of thousands depending on the scale of your business. Figure out who & what you’re looking for and stay focused – remember only get involved with the areas that will succeed for your business otherwise you are bringing non-profitable work on yourself – Social Media is time consuming so ensure that it’s working. Know your measurement criteria clearly.
3. Don’t reinvent your wheel
What marketing and communications strategies are already working for you? Don’t ditch these in favour of Social Media just because it’s the Hot Topic of the moment. If you know what works with your audience now, start by figuring out how to achieve similar results with the addition to your arsenal of these new tech tools.
4. Don’t spread yourself too thin
You don’t necessarily need to be active in all places at once. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the hot spots of the moment, but make sure you know who your audience is and how they take up information. Spend some time figuring out which Social Media vehicles will give you the greatest access to this audience and start there.
5. Don’t sweat it and don’t rush it
Honestly, everyone is still figuring out the best way to use social media tools. The sudden explosion of these tools themselves shows that people are still figuring out how best to use the Internet! Don’t panic, don’t fear you’ve missed the boat and go rushing into something that you’ll have to back pedal on later. Take the time to learn what these new social media tools could do for your business – start small and slow.
Small businesses always benefit from some strategic media coverage. Often though they don’t have funds for PR professionals. Here are the Top 10 Tips for small businesses to generate their own successful PR. You just need to be proactive. Most of the news and information you see on the TV news or in the daily newspaper is generated by individuals or businesses just like yours. They send information to the media, usually via news releases and personal contact. Don’t expect the media to use your release verbatim – they may use some of the information often supplemented with a call to you as a spokesperson.Here are some tips for getting your organisation noticed by your local media.1. Get to know the media that are most likely to cover youRead and watch the media in your local area. Subscribe to the newspapers and magazines; watch the local news; bookmark media websites; and join any organisations where you are likely to meet reporters and editors .2. Learn the names of the reporters who cover the beats most significant to youFor instance, health reporters or sports reporters may be the ones who would be interested in your news. Then you can send your information directly to them rather than just to the “editor”. Don’t forget more specialised reporters such as the society page editor who might be interested in your special event if it involves community leaders. The calendar page editor will want your event listings. Most newspapers also carry a list of volunteer opportunities, so find out who writes those.3. Get to know reporters personallyStart by arranging a short meeting at their papers or TV stations to introduce yourself. Be considerate of their busy schedules and make it brief. Drop off some printed material or personally deliver that press release instead of mailing or emailing it. Over time, you will have other opportunities to develop these contacts into more familiar relationships.4. Send complimentary copies of your publications to reportersInstead of just sending these out with your mass mailings, personally send a copy with your business card attached. You can also attach a note directing the reporter to some item in the publication that might be of particular interest. Send an invitation to your special event to the appropriate reporter. Even if you don’t really expect the reporter to attend, the invitation will remind him or her of you and your organisation.5. Keep up with the personnel changes at your favorite media outletsThe turnover in the media is often rapid. Develop your own media list and keep it up-to-date. You may be able to subscribe to a media list for your locality, but it can’t substitute entirely for your own meticulously kept list.6. Always give the media information that is newsworthyYour information should be new, noteworthy, and relevant to a large share of the public. Reporters are not interested in yesterday’s news, items that are of interest only internally to your organisation, or routine events. Provide reporters with good human interest stories. Invite staff and volunteers at your organisation to let you know about good story ideas that you might be able to pitch to the media. The best ideas often come from people who are on the front lines of your organisation.7. Develop a “virtual” media kit that resides on your organisation’s websiteInclude the history of your business, its mission and goals, brief profiles and photos of key staff and board members, the most recent news releases, and a downloadable PDF of the current annual report if applicable. Busy reporters will appreciate being able to access this information easily.8. Take advantage of breaking news stories to promote your organisationThe best way to do this is to develop a cadre of “experts” who can speak to the issues your organisation addresses. Train these experts (they can be staff members and/or volunteers) and make them available to reporters.9. Make yourself available to the media at any timeGive them a home or cell number where they can reach you day or night. Put that number in your online media kit. Include it on your business card. When you receive a call from a reporter, get back to him or her as soon as you can. Reporters are working on deadline and will appreciate your rapid response.10. Always thank a reporter for his or her coverageSend a hand written thank-you note. Plus, never nitpick over minor inaccuracies. Corrections appear in small type on a back page. They are not worth your effort or of running the risk of irritating a reporter or editor.
Once you’ve decided you want a business mentor and understand the value of having one, how do you go about finding the right one? It all depends on how selective you want to be. A number of Web sites and organizations offer free mentoring. Some will offer a great deal of information about your potential mentors, while others simply match you with whoever is available. That doesn’t mean they’re any less qualified, of course.You can find a mentor in any number of ways:Many professional associations offer mentoring programs. If you are looking for a mentor in your industry, this is the first place to look.Next, explore your network: distant relatives, friends of the family, former bosses or professors, people you meet through professional associations or networking groups, or even online social networks.If you are a first-time entrepreneur, you are going to have a lot to learn from any mentor. You of course want to be compatible with them, but it doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. If you have already started your business, it is more important that you go ahead and get a mentor and get started, rather than spending a great deal of time searching right now. As your business takes shape, you can always move on to another mentor.On the other hand, if you’ve been down the entrepreneurial path before, you may have a much clearer vision of what you are trying to accomplish and how a mentor can help you get there.Here are some steps you can take to help you find the right mentor for you:
- Define a list of your top goals for the mentoring relationship
- Brainstorm a list of prospective mentors
- Research any available information about them or speak to people they have worked withSelect the top candidates who are aligned with your goals
- Contact the mentor and ask for a a meeting. You do not have to divulge at this time that you are interested in a longer-term relationship with them, just that you are interested in getting their input on what you are doing
- Prepare a short list of questions regarding their feedback on your current situationMeet with them. If they’re willing to take time away from their office, that’s best. (You pick up the tab!)
- Ask them about their history, current situation, and goals
- State your goals and ask your questions. Take notes!
- If you like their responses, you can test the waters with them regarding an ongoing relationship, e.g., “I really appreciate your input on this, and I’d greatly value it on an ongoing basis. Would you be willing to meet with me again next month to follow up on what we’ve discussed today?”
- The day after the meeting remember to thank the mentor for their time
- Review your notes and draw up a clear cut action list
- Take action on their suggestions
- Call or email to keep them up to date on the results of those actions and request a second appointment (assuming you’re still interested)
- Propose a mentoring relationship. Be sure to spell out your goals and expectations, as well as your commitment to them. A written agreement will show you are serious about the commitment and investment
Keep in mind that while a mentoring relationship generally lasts more than just one or two meetings, neither of you is locked in. You continue the relationship only if it continues to serve you both well.
A mentor will become not only your advisor, but your friend and confidante. That doesn’t happen instantly—building trust and personal interest takes time. You set the tone at the outset of the relationship by demonstrating your commitment to the process.
How can you best establish the base on which to build a solid mentoring relationship? Carol O’Kelly of Redstorm, a Marketing Strategy company based in Dublin, Ireland and a leading provider of business mentoring and coaching, says consistency and preparation are essential. “Frequency of contact is important in the relationship to keep the learning process moving forward. Each new discussion with the mentor should include updates from the mentee on items the mentor recommended in the previous meeting.” Carol stresses that the mentor needs to be involved in the big picture, not just the details. “Working together to set goals can be pivotal. Not only should the mentor/mentee talk about current specific issues, they should also focus on short and long term goals together with all the surrounding business noise.”
Come to every meeting prepared. Take time to review your discussion and to set action items. Before your next meeting, review those items and ensure you have actively moved your status forward. Bring the notes to the next meeting for discussion. O’Kelly, who has spent years working closely with entrepreneurs, stresses that there’s more to an effective mentoring relationship than organized meetings, and has some great advice on the interpersonal aspects of the mentoring relationship:
Take an interest in the person as a human being. Get to know them not just through mentoring activities, keep in touch during daily activities… this goes both ways – regular and informal communications are key to building this relationship. How did the work out go? Was the London weekend fun? I saw this and thought it’d make you laugh… etc. All very simple, all very effective at gaining a deeper understanding of the other persons click points – which leads to a deeper relationship and more valuable mentoring.
Don’t say, “I’d like to pick your brain.” My brain “has been picked dry” and I start feeling bored when I hear those words. I know the time I spend with that person is going to be nothing but an interrogation. Instead say, “I would really value your opinion.” It’s much gentler and I get the sense that it will be a more pleasant conversation rather than an interrogation with harsh lights shining down.
Don’t try to monopolize a lot of your mentor’s time at first. Connect in a way that’s quick and easy. Schedule meetings in advance. Email is great as I can deal with it immediately, or if I have a lot on I will get back to you when I have a minute but I don’t feel threatened and hassled. Don’t suddenly arrive at the door expecting to get a mentor’s time, you’d be surprised how often it happens.
Be clear about what you’re doing and what you need. There is so much “murky thinking” in the world. I’m amazed that people feel they have to write five pages to express one idea. That means you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Work on developing a clear elevator speech and mission statement. Think about one or two specific questions you need answered and think about your words and how to ask those questions clearly. Put questions and issues down on paper first, it’s a good trick to help you think through an issue you may be able to deal with yourself which gives you a feeling of achievement and frees up your mentor meeting for something you really need help on.
Listen, listen, listen to what they say. Don’t think about all the reasons why you can’t. That’s part of the reason why you’re not there yet. Say, “I’m dealing with yada, yada, yada – how would you suggest overcoming those obstacles? And then let your mind listen without the automatic “Can’t do it that way” response.
Thank the person for their time. Tell them what you’re going to do and then when you take action, be sure to let them know what you’re doing. Always, always, always tell them when you take an action step – keep them in the loop, without this any mentor is operating in the dark and you will not get any value from working with them.
Reciprocate once in awhile. If you see a great article that you think your mentor would enjoy – send it on with a quick note. If you have a trade or a skill and can offer to help him out in some way – offer it. Don’t say, “How can I help you?” Then they have to figure it out. Even if they never take you up on it, they will appreciate your offer.
Learn to make the link between cause and effect. Don’t put your mentor in a position where he/she has to figure it all out for you. You’re not a child. The job of a mentor is not to take you by the hand every step of the way. It’s to give you some guidance as you’re on your way. Your job is to make the link between what you are told and how you will apply it to your life. With mutual respect, demonstrated through action as well as attitude, your mentoring relationship can be mutually extremely rewarding.
Your friends and family, the Web, periodicals, and even casual acquaintances can provide you with a steady daily flow of information regarding news, industry developments, and opportunities. Industry analysts, consultants, employees, and good networking contacts can share their expert knowledge with you regarding particular situations and needs you may encounter. But only a mentor can truly share wisdom with you on an ongoing basis.A mentor is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience than you, who serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period of time. A true mentoring relationship also works in both directions—they learn about new ideas from you just as you learn timeless wisdom from them.But whatever the benefits to the mentor, the benefits to you, the entrepreneur, are even greater:Where else are you going to turn? There’s no boss any more to turn to for advice or direction—maybe not even any employees yet. You’re flying solo. But you don’t have to. Everybody needs a good reliable sounding board, second opinion, and sometimes just emotional support.They’ve “been there, done that”. Learn from others’ mistakes and successes. They don’t have to have experience in your particular industry. They don’t have to be up on the latest trends or technology—you’ve got other sources for that. Their role is to share with you lessons from their experience in the hopes that you can learn them a bit more quickly and easily.Expand your social network. Your mentor, being an experienced businessperson, is likely to have an extensive network, and can offer you access to far more senior decision-makers than you currently have. And they will be far more willing to open that network up to you than some casual acquaintance from a networking meeting.A trusted, long-term relationship. Your mentor has no ulterior motive—no service or product to sell you. That combined with their experience creates a good foundation for trust. And as the relationship develops over time, that trust can grow even stronger. Also, your time with them becomes more and more efficient as they become more and more familiar with you and your business.As you can see, the rewards are many. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by finding a good mentor. Every entrepreneur should have one.
If your company is on life support, don’t expect sympathy or gentle encouragement from George Cloutier, the CEO of American Management Services and author of Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing. The no-nonsense consultant advocates a severe, business-first philosophy that might shock small-business owners—and, possibly, revive their fortunes. In an interview with Kermit Pattison of the New York Times, he gives advice like this:Don’t use the recession as a catchall excuse for poor performance. “Why does your work dry up?” he asks. “Normally because you haven’t built a strong enough sales organization.”Micromanage your team. “Getting good people is 100 times more difficult than conventional wisdom says,” argues Cloutier. “The fact is, you’re going to deal with a lot of mediocre people, no matter how hard you try. You have got to have a system in place to check on how they’re doing.”Fire relatives who don’t perform at a level well above that of unrelated employees. “A member of the family, if they’re not carefully policed or indoctrinated by the principle of the business, tends to feel entitled,” he says. “That entitlement is terrible for morale and is terrible for the business.”Cloutier’s medicine isn’t pleasant—but it could be what your company needs to survive.Source: New York Times. Click here for the full story.