Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents page, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
Q: With the whole interest in social media we felt we needed to be there too. We show pictures of our menu and plates and occasional offers and greetings, but we have very weak following. What can we do to increase the numbers?
It’s quite common to see “Follow us” slapped at the bottom of adverts, websites, delivery vehicles and business cards, but what many businesses seem to overlook is to give people a reason to follow. Just because customers like what you serve, it doesn’t mean they should blindly follow you online. You will have much better engagements, likes, retweets and results in general if you start a sentence with an exciting activity that promises something delightful or beneficial and then ends with the request to follow. For example, if your restaurant announces a chance to interact with the chef live and ask him/her for any cooking tips on the first Sunday of every month exclusively on your Facebook account, then those who are interested will follow you on that platform. A blue box with the letter ‘f’ on its own is not an exciting invitation.
Yet, giving a reason for customers to follow you online is just half the battle. You need to have a clear and distinctive content strategy for each channel. Don’t copy the same content on all platforms as it is and bombard your audience with different app notifications. Instead, you might want to use Twitter, for example, to chase comments and answer inquiries, while keeping Facebook for foodies insights, and Instagram for 15 second recipes and competitions. You could always promote the content of any platform on the others, but don’t duplicate. For example, you could show every now and then an Instagram video to your Facebook followers to inform them about your 15-second recipes and invite them to join. Common social media channels are all free but they are not the same…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: Recently, we stopped one of our products because it’s not that profitable. We received a backlash from current customers demanding we bring it back. How could we when we need to make room for newer products?
Many readers might remember the disastrous story of Coca Cola decades ago when they ‘improved’ their product and customers were outraged. It was only when they brought it back that they started to see an increase in sales again. If your product is cherished by a certain segment of customers and they’re buying it, look at why it’s not that profitable. Is the cost too high? Are you not selling enough of it? If you exhaust all options to lower cost, then look at increasing profit. Consider coming clean with customers and tell them that you just couldn’t afford to keep it at the same price and that the only way to bring it back is at a new higher price. To soften the blow, think about adding value to the customers. If they accept the new price, great. If they don’t, they’ll be less mad at you because now they know why you stopped it.
When it comes to developing new products though, avoid hallucinations of the genius syndrome: “If I like it then others will too.” Without validation from potential buyers your view might be skewed. Having said that, don’t develop new products that only aim to solve existing needs. Invent and check with customers to tweak the final version. If what you do takes time for competition to mimic, then reveal it to gather feedback and to announce that the official release is coming soon. If your product can be counterattacked quickly, then maybe it wasn’t that special in the first place. Of course, you can always follow Richard Branson’s motto, “Screw it, let’s do it” but you’d better also have the same money he has, in case things go south and you need to stop because the product is not that profitable…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: We’re tight on office space. Some employees want privacy. Others want open space for collaborations. We can’t please everyone. What can we do?
In traditional schools, each student has his or her own desk. They’re stuck to it like glue almost all day and teachers hop from one class to another. At universities everyone is roaming according to needs. Students and teaching staff meet at certain classrooms, then they spread out again. If a student needs some quiet time to study, they go to the library. If they want to do some group study, they sit outside or in an empty classroom. Design your workplace almost like a mini university campus. You go to the area you need that fits your purpose for a short period. An employee may book a private room with a desk in advance – or you keep it first come first serve depending on the employees to rooms ratio.
What about their hand bags and personal belongings? Like many universities, fire stations and factories, you could offer lockers. If you’re wondering about papers and files, go virtual, lean, clean and better for the environment. Employees can then carry their office documents on their tablets and laptops. Using this approach allows almost everyone to have the open individual workspace and the closed office space when working on special projects that need extra security or undivided attention. This is an unconventional approach but when a traditional solution is not a viable option for you at the moment, why not?…and that’s just my two cents.
or Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected] . Regrettably, only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management adviser and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com .