Mark Buckshon, the President of Construction News and Report Publishing Inc., discusses several of his personal ‘lessons learned’ regarding marketing and management in has recent blog Eight guidelines for business/marketing success (or eight lessons learned the hard way). Below are four of the eight lessons (my favorites)… a quick visit to his site is well worth the time to read the other four.
“…From 20 employees and publications in five Canadian and U.S. cities, we were briefly down to one part-time employee. The painful failure and surprising resurgence have taught me some important lessons about business. The school of hard knocks can, indeed, teach us some important lessons.
You need to connect face-to-face with your community and market
For years, some of our salespeople insisted on doing everything by phone — or, in the rarecases when they would meet someone, the meeting had a sales purpose in mind. Our editor would go out to some events but in the latter stages, as cutbacks intensified and demoralization set in, he started relying as well on the phone and press releases! Bad move. Face-to-face contact without worrying about or forcing the actual sale is really important in business, especially these days when so much is conducted online and by email. When you see people, you get feedback, interaction, mutual respect, and new ideas. Get out there.
Your employees need a mixture of freedom and accountability (with the emphasis on freedom)
Pure unbridled freedom invites abuse and abuse by one employee can spread to others, resulting in a breakdown of order and priorities. Equally, employees are adults and should be treated that way — I respect the people who work in our organization to be able to think for themselves, solve problems without running to the boss, and respond swiftly when something isn’t right. In exchange they don’t need me breathing down their backs.
Have systems but remember people, ideas, and clients make the business work
We obviously have systems, but are not bound in knots by policy rules and directives. Take for example our travel policy. You can stay where you like, eat what you want, and do what you like — just use common sense and think about it as if you are spending your own money. Once, for fun, I bought a full fare business class ticket for a key employee so we could go to the airline lounge and sip on a few drinks. We then refunded the ticket, and hopped on another flight with a discount airline. We won’t do that every trip, but I shudder to think about how that would fit within any ‘travel policy’.
When business becomes (mostly) unpleasant work, change things so that you can enjoy yourself again. I can’t see anything worse than being stuck in a dead-end and demoralizing space because you need the money to survive. I realize that not everyone has this freedom, but I think we can all take at least small steps to gain control and have some satisfaction in our work. As an employer, I want to be sure that this company’s employees, most of the time, really enjoy what they are doing. This is common business — and marketing — sense, because if the employees are happy they will interact with current and potential clients with the same level of enthusiasm and, indeed, that is the best way to find new business and grow the current one.”