Seventhman Blog

  1. Perceptions in the Age of Social Media

    "social customer"When was the last time you experienced a phenomenal customer service?  Why was it memorable?  In today’s market where customers are empowered like never before, digital word of mouth can spread like Greek fire about your brand on the Social Web.  The question now isn’t really about how innovative your business model is when it comes to new product or service offering, but how customers perceive your brand as a whole.  First impressions may not last, but perceptions do.  What impression are you giving to your customers in this social media age?

    Marketing and Customer Service: A Huge Divide

    Know that customers are social-savvy these days and they talk about brands on social media platforms, where you have no control about what’s being said about your business.  The age of industrial era marketing is over and companies need to realize that traditional marketing doesn’t simply work like it used to these days.  Customers expect you to listen and take action on their feedback about your products and services.  Simply put, don’t expect your customers to call or write you if they need help; you have to engage them in places like Facebook, Twitter, and many more.

    With a demand for world class customer service that consistently meet or exceed expectations, customer service and marketing departments must learn to work with each other in order to address what’s expected of them.  In the near future, the gap between these two will vanish as the social media landscape is changing ways on how people interact with your brand.

    Your Product is NOT the King; Your Customers ARE!

    The value of your business is taking a major shift from your products and services – to your customers.  As Steve Jobs said, “Sell Dreams, Not Products” and by delivering a value proposition that sells the dream of simplicity, functionality and beauty, the Apple brand has become the top of its kind.

    Learn This: High customer engagement is the key to your sales funnel and it brings us all back to how your customers and potential ones perceive your brand.  Just how satisfied are your customers with the level of service they get from your business?

    If you want to survive and grow in this age of social media where social customers have the power to make or break your brand, you will need more than just a customer service strategy to start with.  You have to involve your customers at every stage of creating your products or services… until its delivery.  Are you ready to revamp your business model to cope with this change?

  2. Innovation or Excellence: An Entrepreneur’s Calling

    What if you have only five minutes to call in the shots and make the biggest decision that will cost you millions of dollars?  Would you hold on to excellence or would you risk innovation?  I find it amazing that many who are endowed with herculean talents don’t find success in their field, simply because they are learning the wrong things and repeating the same old, bad habits as if they are in the first circle of Dante’s Inferno.  What have gone wrong?  Perhaps, we are not learning from our experiences right.  Yes, we win some.. we lose some… and together with our many failures come plenty of success stories as well.  What we fail to learn are the good things; we always tend to focus on the bad.  The vicious cycle then goes on.

    When Steve jobs proclaimed that he will put a dent in the universe, he wasn’t kidding after all.  Who could have thought that Apple will reach the pinnacle of fame and fortune in the tech field?  He took the risk and still, a lot of us are resilient to the idea of welcoming innovation because of bad experiences we had from the past.  There’s nothing wrong in holding on to time-tested values with the unpredictability of these days, where even the major league players are booted out of the game.  But, how will you ever know if your ideas will work if you won’t remove your shoes of doubt and dip your bare foot in the water of discovery that runs beneath?

    The question now is:  Are you willing to hold on to the values of excellence that gave you predictable results you can control…OR, will you permit innovation to take over and let your business ride the waves of the growing market, no matter where it will take you?  Yes, passion in what you do is the fuel that drives you to success.  But, which vehicle do you ride on?  For example, if your business is on the brink of a major change, do you inspire your employees to think like entrepreneurs?  It’s very interesting that a research made by Dr. Roy Baumeister, an expert in Social Psychology, found out that we don’t have the will and discipline to do difficult tasks – but, we can build habits around them and in time, turn them into some sort of a sacred ritual.  By that time, there is not much difference between excellence and innovation; it is just a matter of perception, self-control and choice.  Can you handle this challenge?

  3. The Art of Healthy Competition

    Operating a business means knowing what makes your competitors tick, whether you are doing it the brick-and-mortar way or the online way.  In the global marketplace, learning where you stand is vital in helping you write your flight plan for success.  By comparing yourself to those with the same business, you get an idea on what needs to be improved.  You learn better practices out there, and sometimes, you may adapt them to suit your own goals.  Welcome to the World of Benchmarking!

    The Benefits of Benchmarking

    Do you really need to go through all the fuss of benchmarking?  YES. Benchmarking helps you:

    1.  Get realistic goals for your business
    2.  Avoid being led by the big leagues in the global marketplace
    3.  Create a big room for challenges, new ideas, and improvements
    4.  Motivate your team for success
    5.  Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your people and business
    6.  Justify the need for a CHANGE

    What Approach is Best for Benchmarking to Work for You?

    What’s great with benchmarking is that there is NO one formula that works for all.  It means letting your imagination do the talking.  You can choose one, or combine any of these four processes:

    1. Strategic Benchmarking – is where you assess the strategies used by your competitors in the global marketplace, like checking their technology portfolio.
    2. Functional Benchmarking – is when you investigate how a business performs, without focusing on your direct competitors.
    3. Best Practices Benchmarking – is when you look into your competitor’s “best practices,” or the way they manage their employee and customer relationship.
    4. Product Benchmarking – is studying your competitor’s products, comparing it with your own.  You may compare designs, functions, or even the cost of production.

    Are There Ways to Benchmark for Success?

    If you’re planning to expand your business, then, benchmarking is your golden key to success.  All those data collection may take precious time and effort, but not without merit.  To make benchmarking work for your global business, you need to follow these magic seven secrets:

    1.  Identify who your tough competitors are.  The more you can get, the better you can learn where your business needs to improve.

    2.  Keep it legal when you do your comparison, especially in matters concerning fair business practices and exchange of sensitive data.

    3.  Be UPDATED.  Keep your eyes wide open for changes, even in a millisecond.

    4.  Hiring someone to benchmark for your business?  Choose wisely and always count experience as your top priority.

    5.  Try Variety.  Don’t just play it safe and benchmark against competitors you know.  Widen your horizons.  Compare locally and globally.

    6.  Learn the value of courtesy and secrecy.  Here is where the golden rule applies: Do unto others what you want them to do for you.  Don’t sell data that is entrusted to you or use it for other purposes.

    7.  Stop being a Scope-Creep, or you might as well be the twin of the business you are comparing with.  Give space for originality.

    In the end, benchmarking should give your business that jump start to make unique products and services that will cater to the needs of your target customers.  Try to avoid being another copycat of some big league industry you are trying to beat.  Benchmarking should only be your reference point, nothing more or nothing less.  Play It Fair!

  4. The New Way of Doing Business

    With the economic recession pushing many businesses to outsource, many are faced with the exciting prospects of global outsourcing in the new world economy.  Those who are already in the outsourcing world knows that there will always be new opportunities and challenges to be faced.  The global marketplace is shifting towards hiring virtual teams from all over the world, cutting down on huge costs brought about by doing business the traditional route.  As the year opens to a new hope, there is also a greater demand for quality and value at lower costs.  This and more will be addressed at the  Outsourcing World Summit to be held by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals ( IAOP ).

    FACT: Several industries in the US have permanently shifted to offshore outsourcing to fuel their businesses.  No one is immune to this trend and many are jumping into the bandwagon for the sake of minimum costs with the extra benefits.

    What Global Outsourcing Trends Should You Watch For?

    1.  Focus on Value

    Unlike before when there is a huge demand for the lowest hourly rates, businesses are now more results-oriented, where value or quality matters.  The rise from last year’s economic slump means stronger finances and the ability to pay for better services.

    2.  Flexible Deals

    There is still uncertainty in the global economy and many businesses will play it safe by engaging in short-term, flexible contracts.  The fear of the unknown still lingers.  From the point of service providers, this uncertainty will force partnerships or teams to be created, where offers will definitely be competitive.  There will be various pricing models that will meet the needs of both businesses and remote workers alike.

    3.  Increase in Hire

    Since many small businesses will join the global outsourcing arena, many remote workers will be hired from locations outside the United States.  We can see the rise of new outsourcing locations such as Central America, South America, and China.

    4.  New Technologies

    As businesses try to bridge the gap between geographical borders and time zones, newer technologies and tools will come into play, giving better communication and computing services for both clients and service providers.

    5.  Paradigm Shift

    With the increase in global outsourcing practices comes global corporate and social responsibility.  Governments will be forced to toughen regulations in outsourcing to ensure that fair business practices are met.

    6.  Tougher Competition

    Doing business globally opens a huge list of competitors in the market.  With the emergence of new global outsourcing destinations comes tougher competitions based on services and rates.  There will be an increase in professional certifications and training programs that will make any service provider more valuable than the rest.

    7.  Better Quality Metrics

    Unlike traditional outsourcing that is based on performance metrics, there will be more transparency in the way business will be done.  There will be better ways in measuring the value a business gets from offshore or outsourced teams, which will help resolve issues before and during the project work stage – and not after results are completed.

    Nothing is ever constant in the world of global outsourcing and by watching out for the latest trends, you put your business a step forward, above the rest.  One thing’s for sure:  Competition will definitely increase.  Stay Vigilant!

  5. Corporate Branding: Keeping It Simple Makes Sense

    Illustration by Ferrari. Hire him on Ajeva.

    Every business these days is looking for the next big thing when it comes to innovating their brand and they fail to look back to the basics of things.  Corporate branding is in the rage and to build a brand that’s easy to understand, you have to keep your concept:  SIMPLE.

    Taking a look at a savvy marketing stint made by Absolut Vodka in May 2009, by daring to market a limited edition of naked vodka, minus the name and the logo, we learned that what matters is the inside and not the outside with their “Absolut No Label” line.  It was fun.  But, many businesses today fail to strike a charm with its audience like Absolut Vodka did simply because they offer too much of a good thing in a saturated capitalist world.

    Brand Authenticity:  An Impossible Dream?

    The benchmark of any successful brands these days all come down to authenticity.  If you keep it real , honest and simple, you will get trust from new and loyal customers.  In the words of a wise man, you have to practice what you preach.  Allen Adamon’s book called BrandSimple pointed out how brands don’t need to be complicated these days.  From Nike, Starbucks to Apple – it’s all about running their business around strong brand values that gave them big bucks to success.

    Your Brand:  The Concept Vs The Product

    Your brand is not just the idea behind a name, but it is also the product and message that you sell.  You communicate your brand through the power of the five senses, namely visual (sight), auditory (sound), kinesthetic (touch), olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste).  So, how can you make your brand simple and yet, powerful enough to strike an intense emotion that will lead to customer loyalty?  It only takes five answers to these:

    1.  What message do you want people to get from your brand?

    2.  Who are the target market for your brand?

    3.  How will you address people’s feedback about your brand?

    4.  What will you share so people can spread the word about your brand?

    5.  Who are your brand advocates?

    Did you know that everyone is an emotional buyer? Take your cue from this and keep the message simple.  Once your customers are emotionally attached to your brand, they will be like steel pins to a magnet.

  6. The Seventhman Evolution Continues…

    EvolutionIllustration by Ferrari. Hire him on Ajeva.

    For many years our motto at Seventhman was “Evolution at the speed of business”. Although this may not be our official motto these days, it is still at the core of our belief. We continue to evolve and change as business around us changes.

    Today, the business environment is much different than when we first started in business 11 years ago. We have survived through recessions, bubbles and like most other businesses in this environment we see the change.

    The environment of business has changed incredibly. The global village continues to get smaller, and more accessible than ever.  Technologies are iterating at a speed unlike ever before. And the environment continues to get more competitive for every category of business.

    Over the past decade we have been blessed to get an opportunity to work with a large diversity of clients and projects. Through these experiences we found a set of common underlying goals that just about all businesses share:

    Save Money   |   Accelerate Growth   |   Gain Competitive Advantage

    Starting now, our focus of service is to address these three goals for our clients. If are not helping you save money, accelerate growth, and gain competitive advantage; then we’re not doing our job.

    Want to see how we can help your business? Don’t wait – contact us now.

  7. Is Offshore Outsourcing Hanging By a Thread?

    With the recent move of Ted Strickland, governor of the state of Ohio, to ban offshore outsourcing, people can only wonder if he has just pulled off the pin from a massive grenade that will trigger a cataclysmic event that threatens offshore companies worldwide.  Is this the witch hunt of the 21st century?  What does it mean for locals in South Asia whose very own living depends on outsourced work opportunities?

    There were telltale signs that will make offshore outsourcing as hot as the planet Mercury, where debates won’t simply fade away as legislations are passed to stop work from being sent to developing countries.  This act of protectionism is innate in every living species, to protect your own kind, and humans are no exception to the rule.   Who can really blame Strickland for putting down the lynch on offshore outsourcing?

    ” Outsourcing jobs does not reflect Ohio values, ” the Governor said in a press release and with the US unemployment rate hitting a record high, this move might have been one of the best option in an effort to revive a stricken economy.  A legislation on the increase of H-1B visa has also been passed by the US Congress and countries like Canada has already put a stopper at its immigration doors.

    Is outsourcing to blame for the loss of jobs of many?  Media may be to blame for this biased question, causing a mass hysteria founded in half-truths.  Bear in mind that offshore outsourcing has helped struggling entrepreneurs rise as new business innovators in a tough time where Wall Street has faced major relapses from big time players.  It is not fair to point fingers without considering the pros and cons of a good idea gone bad.  Perhaps, an international council must be called to address the issue and truly define what fair trade in this flat world is all about.

    The only question needs to be answered is.. ” Why do businesses outsource jobs these days? “