3 Tips to Manage Business Growth

At Energyhill, we’re passionate about helping organizations of all sizes achieve their goals. Recognizing that growing a business from a small startup to a large corporation is challenging, we strive to be there every step of the way, assisting with design, advertising, video, and more. Additionally, we provide consulting help to ensure you’re taking your company in the right direction. Read on to learn our tips for managing business growth in a way that’s effective and affordable.

1) Use the SMARTER SYSTEM

Trying to grow your business the right away? It helps to set goals that you can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. With that in mind, we recommend that companies use the SMARTER method for business growth. In other words, make sure your objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-framed. Lastly, commit to Evaluating your progress every quarter to ensure you’re moving in the right direction and then consider a Re-do, or adjustment, if your tactics aren’t bringing about the desired outcome.

2) Research Your Market

It’s impossible to achieve successful business growth if you don’t truly know your market. Before putting money into hiring new employees or exploring different revenue streams, take time to understand the customers you already have. Learn what they want and how they act in order to assess your ideal market niche.

3) Hire the Right People From Day One

You’ve probably heard that your business is only as strong as the people it employs. Give yourself the best shot at success by hiring the right workers from the outset. Remember to look beyond skills and qualifications on a resume to find individuals who fit well with the company culture. After all, it’s a lot easier to teach someone how to use WordPress than to educate them on the importance of community-mindedness. Once you’ve located these superstar employees, make an effort to keep them around by providing regular feedback (including praise) and offering opportunities for advancement.

Maximize Your Business Growth With Energyhill

Looking for sales training or business planning? Maybe you need help rebranding your business to accommodate a change in leadership. Whatever your business goals, the team at Energyhill can help. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we help organizations set and achieve their objectives. To learn more about business consulting services, call today or contact us online.

Tools for Conference Calls & Meeting Virtually

In today’s global economy, there’s a very good chance that some of your co-workers don’t sit in the same office as you. Or that all of you work remotely without a formal office to speak of. As a result, conference calls have become a key ingredient in team synergy and communication. Hand in hand with business growth and globalization, advances in technology have made long-distance communication even easier. Below we’ll take a look at some of the most popular conference call tools available. And we’ll discuss the most effective tenets of a successful conference call.

Tools for Conference Calls & Meeting Virtually

How to Lead a Successful Conference Call

We have all attended a poorly run meeting or conference call. When it comes to workplace communication, nothing seems to be more awkward or a bigger waste of time. So, what is the trick to successful conference calls? Here are few elements to keep in mind that just might help your next call be a success:

  1. Know the Attendees. 
    You want the people on the call to contribute meaningfully? Understanding who they are, including their goals and responsibilities, will give you a better idea of when and how they should be chiming in.
  2. Create an Agenda.
    Even if it’s a recurring meeting, it’s important that everyone understands what will be discussed. This will also help everyone to properly prepare. Plus, it will keep the call moving efficiently.
  3. Follow-up with a Recap.
    In order to keep everyone on the same page, and make sure people follow through on deliverables, it’s best to send a recap email once the meeting is over. It doesn’t have to be formal, but it should clearly outline what was discussed, and what if any action items there are and when they’re due.

For hints on how to make your conference calls successful, check out this article from the Poynter Institute.

Conference Call Tools

Now that you know how to lead a more effective call, what’s the best tool for you to use? Here are some of the most popular conference call facilitators on the market and our impressions of them:

  • GoToMeeting: This is an industry stalwart and quite well-reviewed. It requires attendees to download software for the meeting, which makes it a bit dated in our book. We used it previously, but have since switched.
  • Ringcentral: This is what we are using now. Ringcentral has more than just conference call capabilities, such as chat and texting. But, it can be overkill depending on your needs.
  • Join.me: This is a newer tech darling. So far, we’ve been impressed, but haven’t yet used it for our own meetings. However, we have attended meetings where Join.me was the facilitator and we were very pleased. It seems reliable and doesn’t require any install.

The most important feature of any system is how well it fits your organization’s needs. These companies are a good place to start when doing your research for the best conference call tools.

If you’d like to discuss your organization’s digital needs and how to better communicate in a global marketplace, please contact us at Energyhill. Our team of multi-level marketing experts are eager to help you and your organization exceed.

Marketing Agency vs Freelancer: Which is Better?

Today’s gig-driven economy means there are more individuals than ever hanging a virtual shingle and advertising their expertise for hire. Especially in advertising, marketing and design fields, freelancing has become a key aspect of the gig economy.

Marketing Agency vs Freelancer: Which is Better?

Marketing Agency vs Freelancer

While it is tempting to hire a freelance writer or designer for your next project, an agency might be a better option. Here are some points to consider when making the choice.

It Takes a Team

In most cases, hiring a freelancer is cheaper – there, the cat is out of the bag. However, freelancers are often one-man bands (or one-woman shows). They don’t have a pool of resources to draw from – there isn’t an extra set of eyes reviewing copy or design elements. There isn’t anyone to brainstorm with or rely on for new insight. A marketing agency, on the other hand, brings the added benefit of more people to your project. More people means more experience, wisdom, and creativity than you can get from just one freelancer.

What You Pay For

Agencies have overhead which drives up their rates. However, the leverage of an agency can bring unexpected benefits to your project. An agency has often worked with the biggest media in town, established relationships with high-profile people, and generated a body of work that can be leveraged to increase your reputation. All of these elements work in your favor. In the end, an agency rate may be higher on paper, but the connections, insight and advice you’ll receive from a team of experts might make it the more cost-effective option.

Time vs. Talent

Some marketers hesitate to use agencies due to a long held belief that they are stodgy or maybe a little too set in their ways. Freelancers are a little quicker, typically younger, and seem to know all of the latest buzz words. However, just because something’s fast, doesn’t mean it’s good. The breadth of talent a marketing agency can provide far outweighs the extra one or two days it may take them to turn around a project.

When deciding between a freelancer or agency for your next advertising, marketing or design project, consider all of the above. Remember that it must be about value, not cost – you want to see the best possible work for the money you’ll spend. A marketing agency is almost always your best bet in that regard.

Ryan’s Experience as a Freelancer and Working in a Marketing Agency

I have worked for large and small agencies. Also, for 10 years I was solely a freelancer. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Finding a freelancer who is talented and experienced, can communicate well, and is available is a challenge that I see many companies running into. Working with a marketing agency typically avoids this scenario. However, processes can bog down a lot of agencies. That is why we formed Energyhill: to have processes that align with our clients’ goals and are customized to our clients’ needs. For example, we’ve had partners that just need print material, but need it to tie into their digital campaigns and initiatives. As a team of digital experts, we can make that happen; most freelancers working solo would have trouble. Flexible processes and a team of specialists allow us to pool resources, get creative, and deliver on our goals efficiently. All in all, I’d much prefer the agency route, now that I have been in both worlds.

Training Session Built for Success

The training session should be focused

Have you ever attended a training session or training seminar or listened to a sales pitch and got the feeling that you should leave or just end the meeting? Where you’re debating in your mind if it’s a waste of time? I think we all have been there before. We all know that time is money and money is time, there is always another project we could be working on and another email to respond to. In this post I’m going to give you a few cues that will help you decide when its time to leave.

Training Session Built for Success

I was recently invited to a training session for an online bidding system, I was already comfortable with the system they were going to discuss, however; Ryan and I decided to attend this event as a potential networking opportunity . So I packed up some business cards and brochures and headed to this seminar. I was unsure of what to expect. It was a government-hosted event so I didn’t expect anything spectacular, just thinking I could meet a few vendors who might be in need of advertising services themselves. I was wrong, and I left. Here is why.

Lack of direction

Literally! I drove all over the USF campus trying to find this seminar. The location was not hyperlinked properly to get directions and when you searched the address. Google would say: “No results found.” A good thing to keep in mind if you are hosting an event, any event, is to always make sure those attending can find you.

Over communicate

Walking into an empty room is uninviting, it also makes you question if you are in the right spot (see above). If you are out to lunch, leave a note. If the seminar is in room 101, make a sign. Communication is key.

Training sessions should be engaging

In a 3-hour training session, it’s extremely important to be engaging. Note cards are fine, but reading line by line from a training manual with little to no eye contact with those who are listening; is not only boring and impersonal. It also makes it that much easier for attendees to slip out the back.

Mindtools has some great tips on planning a successful training session

Remember these simple steps when planning your training session or seminar:

  • Define Objectives

  • Focus on Simple and Clear Concepts

  • Keep the Presentation Organized

    • Tell them what you are going to tell them
    • Tell them
    • Tell them what you told them
  • Engage and be Mindful of People’s Time

I don’t want to make this whole post negative, so let me tell you what I did take away from the 15 minutes I was there. I met a guy named Gary, he manufactures and sells prison uniforms. I learned there is a market for that, who knew? But honestly at the end of my 15 minutes I truly learned that it doesn’t matter what you do, people are going to leave your meeting with an experience. Whether it’s a few minutes into the meeting or in your closing statements after three hours. What is the experience you want your audience to leave with?

Check out our events page to find out when Energyhill is hosting a training workshop. We promise not to waste your time.

Business Lessons Learned from Marathon Training

Business lessons from Marathon Training

My marathon journey began decades ago when I was on the track and field team in high school. I enjoyed the process, the challenge and the companionship that running brought. Over the next 20 years most things in my life changed. But there was one constant – my love of the sound of my feet hitting the pavement over and over and over again.

After years of casual runs, I decided to go for it. The Marathon. 26.2 miles.

The 6 months of arduous training and long distance running did so much more than just prepare me for a marathon. It gave me business lessons that have changed me and brought me success in running, in my career, and in life. Here are the lessons I learned.

Be Committed

Determine your goal and commit to it. Sign up for that race, put it on your calendar, and purchase some new running shoes. Make the decision to do it and make sure you stick with it.

In business as in marathon training, the first step is commit yourself. Commit yourself in a way that you can’t simply back out if you change your mind or if the road becomes difficult. Have friends or colleagues hold you accountable for the steps you’ll be taking to get yourself where you want to be.

Be Prepared

You wouldn’t simply decide to run 10 miles when you’ve only ever run 3. You have to take small, measured increases in distance to improve your performance and reach new milestones.

If you want to move ahead in business you have to plan and track your successes. Write down your goals, schedule due dates for each, and ensure that each step of your plan builds on one other. Improve your business performance step by step towards your final accomplishment.

Be Realistic

While many races are shorter distances and people can get through without too much training, the marathon is a killer. Go in unprepared, and you’ll never make it.

Be realistic about your business goals. Set goals you can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. Your accomplishments in business should set you up on a firm foundation of experience and expertise that brings you one step closer to your goals.

Be Ready

In running, it is simply called the Wall. It is the point of the marathon (usually around mile 18) where you’ve depleted your reserves and feel as though you’ve literally hit a wall and can’t take one more step. At this point, it’s your mental strength that pushes your body through until the next burst of adrenaline.

Realize you may hit a point when you want to give up, and plan for ways to overcome those feelings when you get there. Be ready for the Wall, and be ready to run through it.

Be Happy

Most importantly, enjoy the experience. Running can be exhausting, painful, and unglamorous. But if you can look past your discomfort and focus on the beauty all around you, you can find the strength to keep going one more mile.

Growing a business or reaching a new milestone can be equally frustrating and challenging. Find satisfaction in your small accomplishments, and be proud of the distance you’ve been able to come. Tomorrow is another day to shine.

Go for It

When you want something, go after it. Set your goal, plan your plan, hit the pavement, and don’t look back. On January 11 I finished 26.2 miles through the Walt Disney World Theme Park in under 5 ½ hours. Since then, I’ve successfully built two businesses and transitioned into a business consulting and freelance writing career that I love. And I’m still running marathons.

What accomplishment do you want to reach?

Multiple Vendors vs Agency Relationship

Vendors vs AgencyAgencies vs Vendors.

As you consider the next big thing for your organization, where do you turn for third party services? To a vendor or three that specialize in that thing you’re looking to do next – or to a full service agency that can help you reach the goal in front of you, in addition to preparing you for what lies ahead?

It all depends – on your resources, your plans, how integrated your efforts should be, and how far ahead you want to plan.

If your budget is small, and your goals are very focused – multiple vendors may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you need to launch a new product and need branding, advertising as well as social media buzz. A full service agency that can create an integrated approach to cover all your needs will suit you better, and will help you plan ahead to build on your initial success.

I’ve compiled a couple of lists to help you figure out which is the best choice for your business.

You may want to go with a team of vendors that specialize in unique areas if:

  • Your goals are isolated and distinct.
  • Your team has identified who will select and manage each vendor and relationship.
  • You have clearly defined criteria by which you can judge the vendors’ skills, qualifications and potential conflicts of interest.
  • If using multiple vendors to complete a project, you have identified a process for communication and coordination of effort.
  • You can quickly and easily coordinate an impromptu meeting with all parties in case there is a hot issue to discuss.
  • The project coordinator is trained with integrated communication to ensure each party’s work and effort is strategically aligned.

You may want to go with a full service agency if:

  • You want to decrease complexity, reduce the risk of misalignment across efforts, and streamline your vendor relationships.
  • Your project requires a well-integrated effort across media platforms as well as targeted audiences.
  • You want to work with just one group of people, who learn and know your brand inside and out.
  • You want to have a single point of contact as well as someone who will be responsive to you. In addition to being responsible for the overall coordination and success of your project.

Engaging a single full service agency can help ensure a well-integrated effort across all media platforms and markets. Having one agency relationship can streamline your workflow, timelines, as well as efficiency in addition to your sanity. You only need to train one group of people. Keep them involved with your business and challenge them to be forward-thinking and focused on your brand. Your single point of contact will be more focused on specific solutions that are best for your business. Your single point of contact also ensures the direction you provide will be applied uniformly throughout the “specialists” within your one agency.

Do You Need a Shopping Cart? Probably.

Website Shopping Cart

You may be asking yourself, “Should I have a shopping cart on my site?” If that question comes to mind, it probably means your answer should be a resounding, “YES!”

People are using their smart phones and tablets to purchase products more than they are visiting traditional brick and mortar establishments. Your website isn’t just a place for you to market your products; it should be your eCommerce hub where people can connect with your brand, find your latest products and purchase them on-the-spot. In order to stay competitive, businesses must provide their customers with the ability to order products online, while they’re in the shopping mindset.

What Customers Want

  • The Convenience. Online ordering allows your clients to shop anytime, anywhere.
  • Better Prices. Your customers wants to save money. Online shopping allows consumers to price shop more effectively.
  • No Crowds. Avoiding lines, traffic, and stress makes everyone happy.
  • Discreet Ordering. Ecommerce provides your consumers to order what they want privately and comfortably.

Shopping carts are not a menial undertaking. Your customers are likely to abandon their shopping cart and not complete their transaction if they have any trouble with your program. Simply put, this is an area of business where the extra investment is worth the cost.

What Your Shopping Cart Should Offer

  • Save Feature. Sometimes consumers want to add an item, look around, and come back later to complete the transaction. Allow it.
  • Order Adjustment. Customers should have the freedom to make adjustments – different sizes, colors, and products – easy and conveniently.
  • Secure Purchase. Your business should ensure the customer feels confident in your ability to secure their information.

The Benefits of a Shopping Cart

Yes, your customers will love it, but the benefits of a shopping cart don’t end with happy customers.

  • Save Time. Allowing your customer to order as they choose gives your employees the opportunity to work more effective hours.
  • Save Money. Ecommerce may allow you or your employees to work from home, reduce expenses, and avoid unnecessary inventory.
  • Encourage Sales. Happy customers purchase more, and more often.
  • Customer Insight. Online ordering allows you to get to know your customer better, and help you make better decisions on future products and services.
  • Expanded Marketing. You can reach a lot more customers on the internet than you can in a mall.
  • Measured Results. Tracking orders allows you to immediately see how sales are doing, where you need to improve, and what direction your business is heading.
  • Business Sustainability. Ecommerce is the way of the future.

Acquiring a shopping cart feature for your website can help move your product more efficiently, lower unnecessary inventory, and most importantly, makes your customers happy.

 

How to Identify the Right Procurement Announcement for Your Business

Procurement Announcements

As a creative advertising agency that is always open to new and exciting work, we signed up to receive procurement announcements. Procurement announcements give you access to local, state and federal government request for proposals (RFP), bids, contracts, resources and more. After signing up throughout the United States and all of our home state’s individual counties. We quickly had emails from large schools and municipalities flooding our email inbox, asking for help with things that our company specializes in. Great right? Well very shortly after signing up, we were getting more than 25 emails a day, and each email was full of procurement announcements. It got overwhelming fast. To make sense of the craziness, we came up with a process to identify what was worth our time and what was not.

We’ve simplified, taking a top-line approach to systematically weed through procurement announcements that aren’t right for us. Here are the steps we use to identify the best procurement announcements for our business.

Title of Procurement

Regardless of how close your commodity codes are, you will still get irrelevant and sometimes completely bizarre requests. Look for email titles that include terms relevant to the work you provide, and decide if there is a fit.

Due Date

Once you find a good fit, check out the proposal due date. Find this before you start reading the actual RFP. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete a thorough proposal and mail it at least 2 days before the due date.

Services Being Requested

Once you’ve decided that the time period fits your schedule, open the RFP review the scope of services. Ask yourself theses two questions: Can your company complete the proposed services and all of its deliverables? Do you have decent references and samples of work to offer for this bid? If you answer no to either of these questions, this is probably not a good RFP for you to bid on.

Requirements and Qualifications

Next, review the requirements and mandatory qualifications. This should bring you to the mandatory requirements and qualifications that are necessary to be considered for the award. Can you meet all of these requirements and qualifications? If not, again this might not be a good RFP for you.

Disclosed Budget

A good portion of the bids that you will receive will not have a disclosed budget. But you should still run a quick find/search for the word budget or the $ symbol to see if it is listed. If it is, ask yourself, Is it a healthy budget for the services being requested? If you feel confident about the budget and all of the points listed above. You’ve found a procurement announcement that looks good. It’s time to begin writing your bid.

When all is said and done, this system works well for us, saving us time and helping us focus our responses to those announcements best suited to our business.

Set Your Marketing & Sales Teams Up for Success

Marketing and Sales Success

The politically correct thing to say is that each function in a company is just as critical to the overall goal as the next. But let’s get serious. When it comes down to dollars and cents, marketing and sales are the ones who play the starring role in determining the success (or failure) of your initiative. Because without them, who would develop your brand’s or product’s positioning, build sales tools, and ultimately sell your product?

A recent survey by Corporate Visions on marketing and sales effectiveness gave us some surprising insight into some of the challenges that marketing and sales people face in trying to accomplish their end of the deal.

  • 80% of marketing and sales professionals feel their lead generating campaigns are insufficient when it comes to helping them achieve selling success.
  • 65% of respondents said their sales teams use less than half of the demand generation content their marketing department produces.
  • 60% of companies believe less than half of salespeople are delivering new product messages the way they were intended.
  • They need the messages, tools and skills to build the buying vision that compels prospects to make a change from their status quo.
  • 50% of respondents said their differentiation strategy is to emphasize how the features and benefits of their products are superior to those of their competitors.

3 Ways to Set Your Marketing & Sales Teams Up for Success

After analyzing the results, I’m wondering if you feel like you’re really getting the most out of your marketing and sales teams? Here are 3 things you can do to set your marketing and sales teams up for success.

  1. Make sure your lead generating campaigns give buyers a compelling reason to take action.
  2. Here’s a crazy idea – tell your sales team to use the content your marketing team created. You’ll avoid mixed messages and keep the focus on getting the action you want from your customer. 
  3. Build strong alignment between your marketing and sales messaging and tools.
  4. Go beyond typical research to uncover unconsidered needs of your customers that competitors may have missed. That will surprise and delight your customers – and set your products and services apart as uniquely designed for them.

Management Philosophy: Do the Right Thing, Every Time

Management Philosophy

Management Philosophy

Our management philosophy at Energyhill is to “do the right thing, every time.” On a daily basis we are faced with decisions that can have a small ramification to our stakeholders (both internal and external). These decisions might have no effect on a scenario or project. However, they set a habit. Justification of taking a small shortcut that is never noticed can lead to a habitual reaction (and action) for a larger shortcut. Therefore, our company culture does the right thing, every time. Always.

“Do the right thing…”

This is done, by gathering facts. This can take time, however, with proper planning, and clear communication this yields a decision that is founded on facts and not personal biases.

“…Every time”

Consistency in this approach can be difficult to maintain. Our teams and individuals hold each other accountable. This creates an environment for consistency to occur and checks and balances for our management philosophy.

This ethical standard benefits our team in the following three areas:

  1. Everyone knows the story. There is confidence and clarity to this approach. If there is a decision that is unprincipled this will be felt and ultimately altered to the principled path.
  2. The best want to work with the best. Our principles allow for a competitive edge and sustainable advantage.
  3. Brand strength is innate when there is a high ethical standard. Universal stakeholders value the opinion that a company with principle sends.

The approach of “do the right thing, every time” allows for us to have more time for excellence in our creative and technical efforts.