Outsidein Communications - Brand + Communication http://www.outsidein.ca Fri, 28 Oct 2016 22:09:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.15 Three lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs http://www.outsidein.ca/three-lessons-for-aspiring-entrepreneurs/ http://www.outsidein.ca/three-lessons-for-aspiring-entrepreneurs/#comments Sun, 22 Nov 2015 00:16:14 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1765 “…. if you had, one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it, or just let it slip?” Eminem. Lose Yourself. Entrepreneurs are risk takers willing to take the leap, face uncertainty and seize the opportunity.  It’s not for the faint of heart or the security minded. […]

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“…. if you had, one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it, or just let it slip?” Eminem. Lose Yourself.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers willing to take the leap, face uncertainty and seize the opportunity.  It’s not for the faint of heart or the security minded. It has its ups and downs; twists and turns; surprises and challenges.  And it comes with a lot of lessons.

I was recently asked to speak at a Women Entrepreneurs Day event.  It got me thinking about the entrepreneurial journey I started 15 years ago and the lessons I learned along the way. There are many. Here’s the three I shared at the event.

Trust yourself: Never forget that you are the master of your destiny; the captain of your soul. No one is ever going to care about your career successes or achievements more than you… (except perhaps your Mom!).  Being an entrepreneur is all about jumping into the unknown because none of us know what the future holds.  But trust you have what it takes. Trust you’re going to land. Trust you’re going to figure it out as you go.  And you will.  You will falter.  You won’t always make the right decisions. You may even fail. Those are the times when you learn the most about yourself, your resiliency and your ability to bounce back.  Speaking from experience, there’s nothing better than the feeling you are making things happen and creating value on your own steam.

Challenge your preconceived notions of yourself.  I didn’t think I had what it took to start my own consultant practice and business. I didn’t see myself as a risk taker. In fact I thought I liked structure and stability.  I thought I’d always need the security of a regular pay cheque. I thought I could never sell my services let alone a business case or strategy! I’ve challenges all of those assumptions and have surprised myself. Now I can’t imagine that predictable world.  Sometimes we can be the biggest obstacle in our way so let’s not limit ourselves.  Challenge those notions.

 Be flexible and adaptable: It’s been said “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most adaptable to change”. Markets change. Bubbles burst. The economy sinks. Clients decide to go another route. These things are out of our control, but what’s in our control is how you adapt to the downturns and the opportunities. Nothing stays the same. So do more than embrace change, create it! You’re an entrepreneur. Take risks, get out of your comfort zone, be imaginative, pivot, leverage…. start something new. It’s like yoga; the more you stretch the more flexible you become. That’s how you survive and succeed as an entrepreneur.

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Does your recruitment story deliver the employment promise? http://www.outsidein.ca/recruitment-story-deliver-employment-promise-2/ http://www.outsidein.ca/recruitment-story-deliver-employment-promise-2/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 22:45:26 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1495 I recall talking to an HR Director who said, we can sell the “why join us” recruitment story really well; we just can’t quite deliver it when they join. Just as a brand reflects who you are and how people understand, experience and feel about your organization, an employment brand does the same for current […]

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street-signI recall talking to an HR Director who said, we can sell the “why join us” recruitment story really well; we just can’t quite deliver it when they join.

Just as a brand reflects who you are and how people understand, experience and feel about your organization, an employment brand does the same for current and prospective employees.  It’s a powerful way to tell your story about your culture, values, and why people should choose to work at your organization and stick with you.

But the story has to be authentic. You can’t sell the dream and deliver the Dilbert reality! That creates a brand gap which breeds suspicion, mistrust or worse – disillusionment.

All brands are built from the inside out. That is, whatever experience you promise to potential employees needs to be what current employees are experiencing on the inside. A few things you need to consider:

  • Understand why people join and stick with you
  • Be open to how you can improve as an employer
  • Ensure the employment brand is reflected throughout the organization
  • Ensure your existing employees can genuinely support and advocate for your employment brand.

It takes work, communication and alignment to deliver a consistent and engaging internal experience. It also takes honesty about who you are and aren’t.  Not all organizations can be Google but, what you uniquely offer as an employer might be compelling to those you want to retain and attract.

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Want to hire the right fit? Know your culture. http://www.outsidein.ca/want-hire-right-fit-know-your-culture/ http://www.outsidein.ca/want-hire-right-fit-know-your-culture/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 19:44:53 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1472     Early in my career if someone had asked me if “fit” and “culture” impacted performance, I would have said no! I believed if you’re a high performer and good at what you do, you can take that anywhere.  Was I wrong!  Great employment experiences are all about the fit and the culture.  Get […]

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culture fit

Early in my career if someone had asked me if “fit” and “culture” impacted performance, I would have said no! I believed if you’re a high performer and good at what you do, you can take that anywhere.  Was I wrong!  Great employment experiences are all about the fit and the culture.  Get the fit right and performance follows.

If you’ve ever been the hire who is not a fit, it’s painful.  You convince yourself you made the right decision, you’re just getting up to speed and things will get better. But it doesn’t.  You start second guessing yourself, you lose confidence and before you know it, you are dreading Mondays.  If you are brave, you’re updating your resume.  And here’s the kicker…if it isn’t working for you, it most likely isn’t working for your employer.  It’s just not a match.

An unpleasant proposition for the employee and an expensive one for the organization. How can you avoid?

To know who will be a good fit is to know and articulate your culture.  You need to be able to clearly answer these type of questions:

  •  Who are you as an organization?
  • Why are people attracted to you?
  • Why do they stay and/or leave?
  • What type of people succeed at your organization?
  • What’s your Employer Value Proposition?

Knowing your culture will inform your job descriptions, your interviews and your hiring decisions.  It allows you to be more intentional about finding and keeping people who fit your culture and who’ll thrive in your environment.  ‘Fit’ isn’t about hiring clones or yes people – it’s about finding people who will be happy and productive because your culture works for them.

Do you know the people who will best fit your culture?

Catherine Ducharme

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Treating employees right could save your neck http://www.outsidein.ca/treating-employees-right-could-save-your-neck/ http://www.outsidein.ca/treating-employees-right-could-save-your-neck/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 23:36:36 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1443 We’ve always maintained that the brand that employees experience on the inside really, really matters. It matters not only to the bottom line but to the culture and employee loyalty. I was blown away by Fast Company’s recent article about employees who risked their own jobs to save the job of their CEO. Read all […]

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We’ve always maintained that the brand that employees experience on the inside really, really matters. It matters not only to the bottom line but to the culture and employee loyalty. I was blown away by Fast Company’s recent article about employees who risked their own jobs to save the job of their CEO. Read all about it.

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Microsoft blows it:  Just give the bad news already! http://www.outsidein.ca/microsoft-blows-it-just-give-the-bad-news-already/ http://www.outsidein.ca/microsoft-blows-it-just-give-the-bad-news-already/#comments Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:03:43 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1435 Microsoft’s recent memo to employees announcing  12,500 people will be laid off has to be one of the most pitiful, self-indulgent memos of its time.  It isn’t until paragraph 11 (you read right 11) that it gets to the point which is: “We plan that this would result in an estimated reduction of 12,500 factory […]

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Microsoft’s recent memo to employees announcing  12,500 people will be laid off has to be one of the most pitiful, self-indulgent memos of its time.  It isn’t until paragraph 11 (you read right 11) that it gets to the point which is:

We plan that this would result in an estimated reduction of 12,500 factory direct and professional employees over the next year. These decisions are difficult for the team, and we plan to support departing team members’ with severance benefits.”

I’m not outraged by the decision. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy one to make.  And it’s not just because the memo starts with “hello there” (a tone so inappropriate given the heavy message). Or that it uses words like “confluence” or cringe-worthy, hackneyed corporate-speak  like “right-sizing” “aligning to the strategy” or “continue to enrich the Windows application ecosystem”.  Or even that it feels compelled to explain “the role of phones within Microsoft is different than it was within Nokia….”

What riles me is it ignores and insults the audience. It doesn’t address the topic head on. It indulges the discomfort of the person making the announcement.  It assumes that people are actually going to wade through the strategic rationale and actually come to the same logical conclusion.  It overlooks how people will receive the message that they will no longer have a job.  It ignores that people have emotions.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t provide context – you should. But people won’t absorb this kind of corporate jargon because they’ll be reeling from the impact.

Context follows the main message and should be clear and direct.  The headline for this memo (yes memos need headlines to get attention) could have read:  “Reducing 12,500 factory direct and professional employees over the next year” and then it should have led with a slightly modified paragraph 11.

Respect your audience. Lead with the difficult message.   Rip of the band-aid first.  Then soothe and explain. Come on Microsoft this is employee communications 101!

 

 

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How to build a consistent member experience http://www.outsidein.ca/how-to-build-a-consistent-member-experience/ http://www.outsidein.ca/how-to-build-a-consistent-member-experience/#comments Thu, 29 May 2014 15:12:45 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1390 Are you doing all you can to ensure a great and consistent member experience? As brand strategists, we know the brand is expressed in three ways: verbally, visually and experientially.  It’s the latter─how members experience interacting with you─that’s often overlooked. Members connect with your organization through many touch points such as renewal system, website, events […]

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Are you doing all you can to ensure a great and consistent member experience?

As brand strategists, we know the brand is expressed in three ways: verbally, visually and experientially.  It’s the latter─how members experience interacting with you─that’s often overlooked.

Members connect with your organization through many touch points such as renewal system, website, events etc.  and each interaction informs their experience and impressions of you.

So, a few questions for you:

  1. Is your organization clear on the brand experience you want members to have?
  2. Are you delivering that brand experience consistently through all your touch points?
  3. Do staff understand what experience they need to deliver and are they equipped to do so?

Here are some common disconnects we’ve encountered:

  • Organizations talk more about what they offer and not enough about how members benefit and derive value.
  • Websites are built from the internal perspective (what we want them to know) and serve the organizations needs over member needs.
  • New member onboarding programs (if they exist) often miss the opportunity to meaningfully connect and plug members into opportunities
  • Registration systems (for renewal and events) aren’t intuitive and easy to use

If you want members to engage with you, you need to make it easy for them to do so by reducing barriers and creating a positive interaction at every touch point.

The member experience starts with these steps:

  • Define it: Be clear on what the experience needs to be
  • Every touch point matters: Evaluate all your touch points to see if they are delivering a common experience
  • Align and equip staff: Empower staff to deliver the experience you want.

So how are you doing so far? To learn more about about Outsidein’s Member Experience Audit  contact us.

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How engaging is your member experience? http://www.outsidein.ca/how-engaging-is-your-member-experience/ http://www.outsidein.ca/how-engaging-is-your-member-experience/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 18:09:37 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1379 Attracting, retaining and engaging members are core to how member-based organizations operate – but it’s not easy these days. It’s a noisy competitive environment and time-strapped members, with unprecedented access to rich content, free training webinars, casual meet ups are questioning the value of membership. It’s forcing member-based organizations to re-examine their relevance, how they […]

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Attracting, retaining and engaging members are core to how member-based organizations operate – but it’s not easy these days. It’s a noisy competitive environment and time-strapped members, with unprecedented access to rich content, free training webinars, casual meet ups are questioning the value of membership. It’s forcing member-based organizations to re-examine their relevance, how they deliver value, how they engage members and protect their revenue streams.

I gained insights into member issues by working with many member-based organizations but I’m also involved in the International Association of Business Communicators (BC Chapter). This is my professional association and as the incoming president, I’m gaining first-hand knowledge of membership challenges!

So where am I going with this? As brand + communication strategists we’ve identified many untapped opportunities for associations to deepen their connection with their members. One of the biggest opportunities is the member experience. Member-based organizations can learn a lot from companies who’ve put the customer experience first. A 2013 Forrester Research study on the Business Impact of Customer Experience1 showed that customer experience strongly correlates to loyalty and that a better customer experience can result in more annual revenue.

It’s all about the experience! How engaging is yours?

My next blog post will tackle one of the ways to build a better member experience.
By the way, Outsidein conducts Member Experience Audits that gives you insights into your member experience. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

1Forrester Research: The Business Impact of Customer Experience, 2013 by Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, June 10, 2013

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Take the killer brand self-assessment http://www.outsidein.ca/killer-brand-self-assessment/ http://www.outsidein.ca/killer-brand-self-assessment/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 15:00:35 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1367 Are you building a killer brand? If you’ve gone through Outsidein’s 7 Secrets to a Killer Brand Soundbytes series, you’ll know what it takes to build a brand to last. So how strong is your brand? Are you maximizing it to the full? Take this self-assessment—in PDF format—to find out.

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Are you building a killer brand?

If you’ve gone through Outsidein’s 7 Secrets to a Killer Brand Soundbytes series, you’ll know what it takes to build a brand to last.

So how strong is your brand? Are you maximizing it to the full?

Take this self-assessment—in PDF format—to find out.

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Outsidein to talk ‘branding from inside out’ at BC Communications Forum http://www.outsidein.ca/branding-from-inside-out-at-bc-communications-forum/ http://www.outsidein.ca/branding-from-inside-out-at-bc-communications-forum/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 18:00:37 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1236 Outsidein principal Catherine Ducharme will be one of five presenters  at the 5th Annual BC Communications Forum on March 10, 2014 at the Vancouver Renaissance Harbourside Hotel. The forum connects professional communicators from across the province and varied industries to learn, be inspired and to network. Catherine’s case study is about aligning employees and communications to deliver a […]

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Outsidein principal Catherine Ducharme will be one of five presenters  at the 5th Annual BC Communications Forum on March 10, 2014 at the Vancouver Renaissance Harbourside Hotel.

The forum connects professional communicators from across the province and varied industries to learn, be inspired and to network. Catherine’s case study is about aligning employees and communications to deliver a dramatically new brand experience.

Catherine’s case study: Defining a brand for Alberta’s registered nursing regulator

Aligning an organization to deliver a consistent brand experience is challenging, but when the new brand experience requires an internal culture to transform, adopt a new mindset and change the way it communicates, it takes it to a new level.

Outsidein Communications partnered with the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA), which regulates over 35,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners, to strategically shift its brand from “autocratic regulator” to a “relational regulator”.

This case study looks at how Outsidein worked with CARNA to define its brand and understand what was needed internally to embed “relational” into the culture. It steps you through how it transformed communications, equipped staff to deliver the brand promise of a relational experience to its members and how it established benchmarks to measure progress.

This forum is supported by the International Association of Business Communicators.

For event details, head on over to IABC/BC’s Communications Forum page >

Learn more about Catherine >

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Catherine’s BCTIA Workshop: Building a Brand to Last http://www.outsidein.ca/bctia-building-brand-workshop/ http://www.outsidein.ca/bctia-building-brand-workshop/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 17:42:25 +0000 http://www.outsidein.ca/?p=1232 Outsidein co-founder Catherine Ducharme has been invited by the BC Technology Industry Association to present a brand workshop to techpreneurs on April 2, 2014. About the workshop Brands are powerful. They set you apart, influence perception, build customer loyalty and attract talent. Approached strategically and managed well, they are an invaluable asset.  The brand decisions you […]

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Outsidein co-founder Catherine Ducharme has been invited by the BC Technology Industry Association to present a brand workshop to techpreneurs on April 2, 2014.

About the workshop

Brands are powerful. They set you apart, influence perception, build customer loyalty and attract talent. Approached strategically and managed well, they are an invaluable asset.  The brand decisions you make today can set you up for success or can paint you into a corner.  Join Catherine for this hands-on brand workshop on taking a strategic approach to branding and avoiding the pitfalls.

Here’s some of what you’ll learn:

  • How to position and differentiate your brand
  • Why the logo is servant, not king
  • How a sound brand framework  can keep your brand from fragmenting.
  • Identifying where and how your brand is delivered
  • How to engage your staff as brand ambassadors
  • Why being a control freak is a good thing
  • How to mobilize your brand

If you’re a business leader, marketing/communication professional or have a say in brand, this workshop is for you.  You’ll leave with greater insights on how your brand is doing and where it can be strengthened.

For event details or to nab a ticket, head over to the Event page >

Learn more about Catherine >

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