Also in this compendium: Is social networking dead and some research support for performance management
Old media versus new media – which to choose? Both, but appropriately, advises consultant Roy H. Williams, often touted as "the wizard of advertising."
Here's some of his typically pithy, punchy, provocative advice from his Monday Morning Memo:
· Be careful with social media: Facebook's own success stories page suggests it works extremely well for getting people together socially but not for selling hard goods and services. "Hint: I think there may be a reason they call it 'social' media," he says.
· Rethink targeting: For the same amount of money it costs you to reach five tightly targeted customers online, you can reach five customers who have that same profile plus 127 of their friends by using broadcast TV or radio. And that might make you the brand they think of and feel best about when they need what you sell.
· Don't assume your message is interesting: Your product or service may not be intrinsically interesting but you can buy your prospect's time and attention with entertainment. "Most ads have zero entertainment value," he stresses.
· Don't fear criticism: Most ads aren't written to persuade; they are written not to offend, he contends. But if you want to move people, you have to accept that your ad might create a backlash from some people. "The only alternative to this is to forever settle for ads that are mushy, mundane and mediocre. Please don't," he says.
· Don't measure ads too quickly: Effective advertising requires continuing campaigns and longer measurement cycles, allowing time for your relationship with prospects to build.
· Watch those adjectives: A flurry of adjectives simply fills an ad with empty rhetoric. Use verbs, the action words that show prospects what your product can do.
· Don't give up on "old" media: You need a website, since most customers will visit that before making first contact with you. So build a good one. But to increase visits to your website and improve the effectiveness of your online ads, begin advertising on radio and television.
· Beware of ad speak: "People don't hate advertising; they hate boring advertising; they hate predictable advertising. They hate the time-wasting, life-sucking sound of too many words wrapped around too small an idea. They hate Ad Speak," he warns. "Learn to purchase your customer's time and attention and goodwill with delightful, interesting, entertaining ads."
2. Social networking is over
While Roy Williams is skeptical of social media, technology columnist Mike Elgan is a doomsayer about one of its main functions, social networking. "A few years ago, social networking was the centre of the known universe. 'Social' served as linguistic pixie dust that magically transformed any boring old thing into something relevant. Call me Debbie Downer, but I'm here to tell you that those days are over," he writes on ComputerWorld.com.
Social networking is being replaced or supplanted by three things:
· Messaging: Millennials are rejecting social networking on sites like Facebook for messaging through Snapchat and other apps. Messaging is private, temporary and immediate, targeted to one or a few individuals rather than a broad social network.
· Online distractions: YouTube videos, games, articles and podcasts are eating into social networking time.
· Social media: He describes social media as professionally produced videos, articles, podcasts and photos. Those are gradually replacing the sharing of personal content about our lives. Twitter, for example, recently reclassified itself in Apple's App store. The popular social networking site – fifth ranked, actually – became a news app. Indeed, the top-ranked news app, indicating how it sees itself being used. "Twitter probably wouldn't have made the move if the social networking category was burning with relevance," he says. Facebook, the top social networking site, is acquiring fledgling companies in other fields and working on a Snapchat-like app.
Social networking still exists but he insists it's over. Strategically, that means rethinking plans to get into that field and being clear on its uses and value.
3. Rethinking the rethinking of performance reviews
Critics have been lacerating performance reviews as ineffective and some top companies are moving away from that approach, opting for more frequent, informal conversations between managers and their staff. But a new study by CEB, a consultancy that keeps tabs on best corporate practices, suggests abandoning performance reviews has its own shortcomings:
· Manager conversation quality declines by 14 per cent as managers struggle to explain to employees how they performed in the past and what steps to take to improve future performance.
· Performance reviews gobble up a lot of managerial time but that is not spent, as expected, on informal discussions. In fact, informal conversations decrease. So managers aren't shifting the extra time toward continuing, informal performance conversations as expected.
· Top performers' satisfaction with pay differentiation decreases by 8 per cent. It would seem managers have trouble explaining how pay decisions are made and linked to individual contributions.
· Employee engagement drops by 6 per cent because managers seem unable to do things that are proven to engage employees: Set expectations for them, hold clear performance and development conversations, and provide appropriate rewards and recognition.
"Although a handful of managers are more effective without ratings, according to CEB data, most organizations will find it too difficult to get their managers to the level needed to make it worth the significant investment required," the consultancy advises. It recommends returning to performance reviews and working to ensure ongoing rather than episodic feedback, making performance reviews focused on the future rather than the past, and including peer, not just manager, feedback.
4. Quick hits
– Try the 321-zero system for e-mail. Consultant Kevin Kruse says schedule three times daily to process your e-mail and set a timer to give yourself only 21 minutes in each session, aiming for zero e-mails left in your inbox. Twenty-one minutes may not be enough but stick to it – make a game of it – to ensure focus and short responses.
– In the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hugh Grant, playing a confirmed bachelor, is asked whether he is involved in a serious relationship and answers, "Well, I am sort of a serial monogamist." Consultant Grant Levitan says you should adopt that attitude for your personal development plan: Pick one thing to work on at a time, and give it all you've got.
– To improve your chances of success in your new job, recruiting specialist Gerald Walsh says that whatever you said to people in your interview, be sure to demonstrate early on that you can do it.
– In a recent KPMG study, 32 per cent of Canadian CEOs said their company is a leader in using data and analytics. But the consultancy notes the executives' approach is operationally focused, rather than driving innovation and a deeper understanding of the customer and market.
– Some lessons business consultant Shahara Wright draws from the 2016 U.S. primaries: Not everyone has to love you (all that's needed is for your supporters to outnumber detractors); don't let serious obstacles stop you; and embrace who you are rather than trying to be what you aren't.
Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. E-mail Harvey Schachter