Friday, January 29, 2021

The 7 Steps to Managing Your Advertising Agency

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/29/2021

  You've selected the right advertising agency for your company. Great! Now what? Managing an advertising agency is not as simple as hit...


You've selected the right advertising agency for your company. Great! Now what? Managing an advertising agency is not as simple as hitting “autopilot,” crossing your fingers and hoping they get it right. You will need watchful eyes along the way, helping to keep your agency on the desired track. Here's how to make sure the agency is giving you what you need.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Lesson #334: Use Google Trends to Track Your Market Share and Success

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/28/2021

  I am sure many of you have used Google Trends in the past.  But, for those of you that are not aware of this terrific tool, now is the ti...


I am sure many of you have used Google Trends in the past.  But, for those of you that are not aware of this terrific tool, now is the time to learn how valuable it can be for your business.  

What is Google Trends?

Google Trends is a tool that can tell you how searches for a specific keyword on Google have been trending over time, for whatever date range you are most interested.  As an example, here is the search traffic trend for the term "restaurant furniture" for the last year:

As an investor in Restaurant Furniture Plus, this data is very important to me, as a tool to know whether the industry is moving up or down, and how the industry is behaving year over year, which I then can compare to our own revenue results.  It also tells me whether or not we are gaining or losing market share, compared to our competitors, which I will detail below.  The way to read this chart is the highest point in the period is scored a 100, and then every other period is indexed against that peak.  So, a week showing a score of 25, would have 75% less traffic than the peak week.

What do we see is in this chart--there was a slump starting in March 2020, which is no surprise with the beginning of the COVID pandemic in the U.S.  Then, there was an unexpected spike in June 2020, which caught us in surprise.  Why was there a spike in the middle of a pandemic when most restaurants were closed?  In response to COVID, restaurants were racing to buy outdoor furniture to open patios which were allowed to operate.  And, then, the rest of the year, pretty much followed normal seasonal trends--this industry normally peaks in March-June, and then November-December are typically the slowest months of the year.  If you looked at this same chart in 2019, you would not have seen a dip in March, you would have seen steady acceleration in demand leading up to new summer restaurant openings and their need for furniture.

How to Use This Data For Your Business--A Couple Case Studies

As discussed, the above can show how the industry is trending, for you to compare your own revenue results.  But, if you dive a little bit deeper, it can tell you if you should be happy or sad with your own revenue results.  Let's talk through an example, using the above chart.  The month of April had an average score of 27 and the month of May had an average score of 48.  That was a 78% increase as the restaurant industry started to shake off the immediate paralysis coming out of COVID.

As I compare that to our Restaurant Furniture Plus data, our revenues in May were up 128% over April.  So, yes when I looked at our revenue data in isolation, without Google Trends data , I was obviously happy with the 128% growth.  But, when I layered in the fact the industry growth was only 78%, that means that Restaurant Furniture Plus was actually growing 29% faster than the industry was growing.  In other words, we were increasing our market share, taking volume away from our competitors, which obviously made us ecstatic.  It turned out that in a world post COVID, the internet dealers like us, where taking share away from the offline brick-and-mortar dealers, many of which were closed during this period.

This data is especially helpful in this following scenario.  I had a client that was really pleased with their 10% month-over-month revenue growth.  And, he thought everything was fine with his business, until we layered on the 20% industry growth from the Google Trends data!  It was a very sobering moment for my client, as his mood changed from "great, we are growing", to "oh crap, we are losing material market share" in the snap of a finger.

Some Additional Guidance

Remember, Google Trends is simply traffic data from Google.  Your website traffic growth, may or may not be in synch with Google trends.  Maybe you have a bottleneck there, with poor search engine optimization, and you are not getting your fair share of the overall internet searches (so, fix that!).  And, the above example assumes you have an immediate conversion of website traffic into sales in the same month.  That may be the case for low ticket consumer products.  But, that is most likely not the case for more expensive B2B products or services, that have a longer sales cycle, especially if they are converted offline.  So, instead of mapping Google Trends data to sales or transactions, map it to leads.  And, if you are going to map to sales, adjust the analysis for your sales cycle (e.g., April traffic growth with a three month sales cycle will drive July sales growth).

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a new tool that can help you with instantaneous market research and trends on your industry.  Use this data to help you plan your month-by-month budgets, for any seasonality in your industry, and to compare how your business is trending versus the industry overall.  If you are losing market share, you may not realize it now, but you have a pretty big problem on your hands, that you will need to fix asap.  Good luck!

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Lesson #333: How COVID-19 Has Changed Staffing Decisions Forever

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/04/2021

COVID-19 has impacted the business world in many ways.  Some industries thrived (e.g., healthcare) and other industries got clobbered (e.g.,...

COVID-19 has impacted the business world in many ways.  Some industries thrived (e.g., healthcare) and other industries got clobbered (e.g., hospitality).  But, one thing that was consistent across most companies, is many of them were forced to have their employees work from their homes for the first time.  And, a very interesting thing happened . . . it worked!!  Both for the employers in hitting their goals and for the employees looking for more flexibility in their jobs.  But, this is just the beginning of what should become a long term trend towards continued teleworking and increased outsourcing and offshoring even when COVID-19 is behind us.  Allow me to explain.

Teleworking Success During COVID-19 Has Opened the Eyes of Employers 

In the wake of COVID-19, employers are dramatically rethinking their staffing decisions.  In the "old days", most companies would think with a "home office" mentality, looking for staff in their headquarters or regional office locations.  But, COVID-19 forced many companies to experiment with teleworking for the first time--allowing their staff to work from their homes.  And, once they learned it was pretty much "business as usual" in terms of getting work done and driving revenues, they quickly started thinking "do we even need staff to return to the office".  A long term teleworking model would require a lot less home office space.  And, for staff that does need an occasional office, it can be provided with a "hoteling" model where you can reserve a desk for the day (not have your own dedicated desk), helping to reduce your monthly rental expense.  Additionally, they are starting to see the benefit from being able to recruit talent from any location, opening up a much larger talent pool of candidates for them to choose from, far beyond the constraints or limitations of their home office location.

This Has Also Opened Employers' Consideration to Alternative Solutions Like Outsourcing

But, this is just the beginning.  According to my colleague Jeremy James, a Partner at the outsourcing firm Staff Street (who helped me research the topics of this post), now that employers' "beaks are wet" with this concept, they are now giving the idea of outsourced staffing models much higher consideration than they have in the past. Why?  Because it is a similar "out of the office" solution that can help them expand their bottom line with lower-cost talent sources (save as much as 55% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), they can handoff secondary roles in order to enhance their core business functions, and it can help them accelerate their recruiting needs with "on-demand" talent to keep up with their growth demands without having to internally recruit or train those same roles.  Companies are starting to rethink every aspect of their talent needs--with a bias towards hiring employees for your core competencies (e.g., hire accountants for accounting firms, hire engineers for automotive manufacturing), with the flexibility of letting those employees work from wherever they want (at home or the office), and outsourcing everything else.  According to the BLS, around 45% of all jobs in the U.S. can be done remotely.  Not good news for the corporate real estate market!

The World is Quickly Becoming an Employers' Oyster . . . Literally!!

With employer's becoming more amenable to teleworking and outsourcing, it really raises a bigger question of where the talent needs to be located.  In many cases, the best solution may not be in the United States.  Hiring offshore and nearshore talent can often be the most effective and budget-friendly solution for your needs.

Offshoring is when outsourcing companies find solutions, whether it’s recruitment or program development, outside of the country their client is incorporated in. Many think the decision to offshore is solely concerned with being able to save costs or expand their bottom line. But offshoring doesn’t just mean cheap labor. Educating the world over has improved in the last 20 years and the global labor force has only grown in talent as well as in the competition for that talent. By finding the right offshoring strategy, companies are able to tap into that global talent pool and benefit from the general advantages of outsourcing, such as making fixed capital more variable and your organization more flexible and nimble, as well as the diversity and expertise in skills and ideas of globally competent workforce. Jeremy has found that the best outsourcing talent pools are based in the Philippines, Mexico and Eastern Europe. The Philippines and Mexico primarily specialize in customer service and back office support, working during American hours of operation.  And, the firms in Eastern Europe are phenomenal with technical tasks such as web and app development.   All at a fraction of the price of U.S. based talent.

Nearshoring is similar to offshoring in that companies find their solutions in other countries. But while offshoring companies look to the labor force in places like India, the Philippines, and Ukraine, or other places across the world, nearshoring’s competitive advantage is working in countries that are in the similar time zones and geocultural zones as the countries the outsourcing companies are incorporated in. They navigate the common problems that arise from conflicting time zones or cultural differences, things that can compromise company cohesion and agility.  For example, there is a large and cost effective technology coding community in Costa Rica that perfectly aligns with the time zones in the United States, making it easier to do business and collaborate on calls during the same working hours.

There is literally an offshoring or nearshoring solution for most any talent need you have.  Each with a different: (i) industry expertise; (ii) role focus; (iii) talent location; and (iv) costing model.  So, do your homework to find the partner that has the best mix of the above to meet your needs.  

How To Decide The Best Path for You??

The first real step to choosing the right talent strategy for your operating or growth needs is to have a clear organizational map and a clear growth objective. A good grasp of organizational needs and strengths helps companies and businesses determine which functions can be done in-house and which can be outsourced. It also helps you find the right outsourcing company to work with based on competencies in strategies and staffing solutions, as it can be a really confusing and daunting process for finding that right outsourcing partner.  So, map out your talent pool of options, figure out your core competencies, figure out how remote/outsourced staff will impact the business or culture and set a recruiting or outsourcing plan from there.

Closing Thoughts

So, now that we are starting a new year.  This would be a good time to rethink everything you are doing from a staffing perspective and figure out which of the above strategies would work best for your companies long term.  If you embrace the above concepts, that our home office is no longer a requirement for employment, there are surely better efficiencies to be had in helping you hit your sales targets and talent goals, with a materially better cost structure.  Which leaves more money in your pockets to grow your companies with.  Thanks Jeremy for helping me with this post.  Feel free to reach out to Jeremy's team at 213-537-8804 with any questions from here.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

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