Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

Leadership Blog

The Media Goofs Again

Irresponsible reporting abounds. Just examine this recently reported story about the economy. On April 22nd, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced its outlook on the world’s economy. They stated that they believe the world’s economy will contract by 1.3% during 2099. This is a REDUCTION from their earlier estimation of 1.8%. In other words, this is good news! Further, they stated that 2010 is expected to be flat (i.e., not a decline). Again, good news. On April 23rd, however, a very well-respected radio news program reported this story. With a neutral tone they reported the IMF’s statements, even that their projections had been revised downward. They ended the report with a negatively toned voice about 2010 being flat – as if they were somehow disappointed that the world economy would not be bustling with a 5% economic increase. But here is the real story. By later that day, the afternoon companion of the radio program stated something to this effect:

The International Monetary Fund projected the global economy to shrink by 1.3% during 2009. This is the most severe recession since World War II.

Unbelievable! There was no mention of the IMF’s downward revision, nor any mention of the World Economic Outlook’s (WEO) statement that a slow recovery is expected to take hold next year. In my mind, this is irresponsible reporting. Not something I would expect from a respected news source. Bottom Line: Most media is feeding us negatively slanted stories. Don’t eat it up. Look for pragmatically positive viewpoints. Think strategically. Stay positive!

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2009-04-24 at 07:03 AM
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Leadership at the Movies

Movies can provide entertainment, as well as welcomed escapism. They can also, on occasion, deliver a meaningful message. For you leaders who are faced with specific challenges, there are several movies to consider based on your area of need. Below are several topics of potential interest, along with movies that can open up discussion or provide resolve.

    OptimismCold Comfort Farm (based on her strong will and unwavering sense of optimism, the protagonist turns a group of surly relatives into a happy bunch of functioning people striving for their passions).
    HopeShawshank Redemption (a fantastic movie about one man’s ability to stay focused and sane when faced with extreme circumstances, while never losing his ability to pragmatically hope).
    TolerancePleasantville (the people in a “perfect” town are faced with changing circumstances, which calls for them to embrace the new and different).
    SalesmanshipFerris Bueller’s Day Off (Ferris shows how to blend wit, smarts, and likability into a potion that mesmerizes every type of prospect).
    Possibilities & Perseverance - Slumdog Millionaire (the protagonist possesses the ability to engage positive possibilities. His situation is dire, yet he combines resources, experience, intuition, and positive vision to create palatable outcomes).
    GritTrue Grit (just about any movie including The Duke is going to contain a fair amount of grit – my grandfather would be so proud).

Well there you have it. Share some of your favorites with me, and the message they hold for you and your team!

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2009-04-19 at 07:33 AM
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Promotional Convergence

Recently, I was consulting with a client regarding their marketing plan. As we moved through the process of strategizing, several things became quite clear. First, the client considered promotion and advertising as the same thing. Nothing could be farther from the truth – more on that in a moment. Secondly, while they had a “nice” website, it was doing absolutely nothing for them. Thirdly, they felt that Brand was the same thing as a logo. Fourthly, there was a lackluster sales effort that had been beaten down by the crush of the declines that they had been experiencing over the past few months. Lastly, each of the above named areas was seemingly its own world. In other words, there was no coordination, no consistency. It was the last fact that paved the way for our discussion, which is encapsulated as follows:

  1. Advertising versus Promotion. Advertising seeks to connect with a targeted audience and is filled with claims/images controlled by you, while promotion (let’s call it public relations – TV interviews, mentions in print media, etc.) involves a well-known third party who, for neutral reasons, assists you in making credible claims. While I could go on for pages, let’s suffice to say that the two are quite different and in order to gain a similar message from both, targeted approaches are necessary.
  2. Website. Just because a website is pretty, does mean it is effective. When we coordinate the creation of websites for our clients, we stress that the site is structured to support search engine marketing (SEM). In addition, the logic flow of the site needs to be considered, as well as easy maintenance.
  3. SEO. Fewer than 5% of organizations have any type of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or social networking strategy. Yet, your prospects are increasingly using these tools during their decision-making process. As such, it is imperative that professionals and organizations pay more attention to this important area. Please note: the most important social networking and SEM elements are detailed during a segment of our Sales Simplified boot camps.
  4. Brand. In a nutshell, brand is the image of your company that the customer carries in their mind. Brand is not a logo, tagline, or slogan. It is what people say about you and your company.
  5. Salesmanship. For many, sales skills are at a low ebb. A large number of sales professionals have allowed a tough selling environment to get into their head and to lower their morale. In a sense, it is understandable. To a greater sense, it is time to raise the bar.
  6. Coordination & Consistency. Too many businesses view the above five mentioned categories as independent items. They are not, and as such, should be discussed simultaneously. Moreover, the strategies and tactics driving these areas should be well thought out and crafted by professionals who are experts in the field.

Bottom Line: The smart companies have a congruent sales strategy. They strategically blend public relations, search engine optimization, advertising, and branding, and complement it with first class sales skills. In the end, they send a consistent message to customers and prospects that delivers targeted, goal-breaking results.

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2009-04-13 at 08:06 AM
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Fools On The Hill

No, no, this is not about Congress, well, actually, yes, this is about Congress. On January 20th there was big talk of a sweeping stimulus package. All in Congress were touting the concept as “saving the economy.” Since then, however, there are has been a dearth of real action. Perhaps Congress was stunned to read the stimulus package. If they read it thoroughly it is easy to see that it a $800 billion social welfare package (okay, there is $60 billion that will actually stimulate the economy – but is that enough?) In effect, Congress has waited so long regarding the “stimulus” package that the economy – albeit painfully, is taking care of (i.e., correcting) itself. At this point, Congress should consider one of two actions. Counter-intuitively, the smarter is probably the first action. 1. Continue to bicker and back-bite and do nothing. The result of this (in)action will be to allow the markets/economy to sort out its own rubbish. To put out the garbage (i.e., GM, Chrysler, and a bevy of undercapitalized banks) and to allow the cream (There is cream? Right?) to come to the top. 2. Revamp the proposed social welfare handout into a real stimulus package. Here is what is should like: a. Inject $600 billion (71% of the proposed plan) into bridge and road projects across the country. This will do several things: i. Get appropriate amounts of money to States that are organized and ready to put people to work – as opposed to States that are planning to use “stimulus” dollars for State operating funds. ii. Enhance America’s infrastructure iii. Increase safety iv. Allow the multiplier effect work its magic. In other words, let the people and businesses (yes, that’s right “businesses,” contrary to popular media belief, it is NOT a bad word) spend the money they make on the projects in other places. These “other places” in turn spend money in yet more places, and thus $1 spent on a road/bridge project is turned into several dollars. Note: the multiplier effect is Economics 101. Social welfare programs are, well, something different. Ladies and gentlemen, the solution is easier than you think. Contact your Congressman today and educate them.

Posted by Doug Van Dyke on 2009-04-01 at 06:21 AM
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