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WHY THE BIONIC C-SUITE NEEDS TEAMWORK

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Aaron Goldman, CMO, Mediaocean

 

The modern C-suite has a lot to contend with. This would be true even without the disruption and economic uncertainty arising from political- and pandemic-related events. By now, it’s a cliché to say that every company is becoming a technology company – but that doesn’t change the fact that business leaders are being asked to keep pace with rapid change simultaneously with their traditional role in the company. While members of the C-suite may attain their positions, in part through years of experience, that now has to be married with the ability to spot when experience is out of date and experimentation is needed.

All of this, of course, was supercharged by the onset of a pandemic which left nothing the same, and the Boston Consulting Group highlighted this last summer in an article arguing that we need to make learning a key boardroom competency. A focus on learning in a time of change will, they argue, lead to the creation of the “bionic company’ which fuses human and machine capabilities – and it’s an argument that rings true. We shouldn’t, however, think of this only in terms of a challenge or a problem for businesses: this technological acceleration also means we’ll be able to do things previously impossible. In fact, I don’t know about you, but what the word ‘bionic’ brings to my mind first is not executive meetings, but a futuristic hero with special powers and a cape.

 

C-suite superheroes

Over the last year, I’ve been increasingly been thinking of the C-suite as a kind of superhero team that rises up against challenges and inspires unity within the organisation. This was made visible by the extraordinary events of the last year, when leaders were frequently called upon to go above and beyond in response to what was happening in the world. I’m thinking in particular of the CMO and CFO, who have been face-to-face with the most abrupt areas of change. For marketers, adapting to the needs of consumers who themselves have had their lives turned upside down has required real, rapid innovation. On the finance front, the shifting economic sands have needed faster analysis, using more accurate data to manage the business.

For both of these roles, the skills and tools acquired through the pandemic will fortify them for the future. And while the superpowers may stop short of x-ray vision, there is a light emerging at the end of the tunnel for human health and it’s clear that the pace of change will not slow. Looking ahead, the easing of restrictions should be seen as an opportunity to build back differently, and the daily experience of technology inside businesses should not simply revert back after a year of remote working.

One thing that will revert as we return to steadier ground, however, is that the planning horizon will lengthen, and businesses will again be in a position to plan proactive strategy, not just reactive tactics for the current changeable context. In order to do that successfully, these leaders will need to take the learning they’ve done and make it available to others across the organisation. While Boston Consulting Group rightly focus on building learning into the workflow across the business, there is something more to be said about increasing understanding within the boardroom.

Where companies have already had deep collaboration between CMOs and CFOs, new practices and new assumptions need to be communicated. Where companies haven’t built those lines of cooperation, now is the perfect time to bring the beginning and the end of the revenue journey into closer alignment. And, of course, it’s critical to do this without quibbling about who is the superhero and who is the sidekick ­– it’s more like The Avengers coming together.

 

Endgame

The first requirement for good C-suite collaboration will be a shared understanding of terms and ideas. Sometimes, this will mean shifting your own perspective: CMOs, for example, may need to get comfortable converting their KPIs into more revenue-relevant numbers if they’re to sing from the same hymn sheet as the CFO. Likewise, CFOs will feel the benefit if they contextualise their work in terms which are familiar to other business functions. With smarter, digitised approaches to data, figures like cost per acquisition, return on loyalty, and retention metrics can help deliver that.

Second, collaboration will happen from a place of greater trust and mutual understanding when it operates from a shared dataset. A monthly marketing report is one thing for the CFO; being able to look at real-time intelligence on how marketing is feeding into revenue is quite another. A unified platform which can bring this data together and create actionable insights can place everyone in the mindset where collaborating is the default, rather than an additional task which may or may not be required of them.

Third, collaboration should be built on commitments around how decisions will be taken. When cross-function communication can too often be taken as an FYI, agreeing to drive enterprise value on the basis of shared, mutually understood data ensures that the work needed to establish a collaborative system actually has real-world outcomes. This is where interpersonal efficiency becomes bottom-line growth. After all, it’s no good shining the bat-signal at the clouds if Batman is just going to make up his own mind about whether to respond to a crime.

When everything is set up properly, C-suite executive should feel empowered like a superhero, with the full power of the organisation at their fingertips. From there, the next logical step, as Hollywood has taught us, is the big crossover event where those superheroes team up to achieve greater things.

 

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5 tips to ensure CSR efforts come across as genuine

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By Mick Clark, Managing Director, WePack Ltd

 

Corporate social responsibility – or CSR – is playing an increasingly pivotal role in the long-term success of modern-day companies.

The harsh reality is that only a paltry 46 percent of people trust the brands they buy from. And with more competition than ever in all walks of business, a positive brand reputation needs to be earned or customers will simply take their money elsewhere.

That’s why I share my insights on the importance of CSR in modern business and introduce an effective plan to avoid coming off as disingenuous to your employees and customer base.

The value of CSR

The needs of modern employees and consumers are changing. There is a higher emphasis placed on the ethics and morals of companies and their handling of hot button topics like the environment or social issues.

59 percent of UK workers believe their business should be investing in charitable initiatives. 67 percent of people aged 18-19 feel this way, showing a generational shift in favour of companies that support ethical, social, or environmental causes.

Mick Clark

At WePack, we recognise the importance of this and make sure to regularly donate to a variety of charities including RRT (Rapid Relief Team), and donated £6,000 to the charity’s social causes last year.

An example of good CSR can be found in search engine giant, Google. It has had notable success with its CSR initiatives. Its flagship CSR campaign, Google Green, is a companywide commitment to using clean sources of energy, cutting down on its use of fossil fuels and drastically increasing energy efficiency as a direct response to the climate crisis.

It has been so successful that its data centres now require 50 percent less power to run than the average data centre and it’s poured over $1 billion into jumpstarting renewable energy projects.

Customer attitudes are fundamentally changing, and people are far more concerned about the values that their money could be indirectly supporting. In fact, 71 percent of customers prefer buying from businesses that align directly with their values.

In the modern-day, demonstrating high levels of CSR boosts brand perception. Businesses that make it a priority are more attractive – from an investment standpoint – to both customers and potential stakeholders.

For example, more than a third of consumers are also willing to pay more for a product or service if the business prioritises sustainability specifically – so it pays to be responsible.

Businesses with purpose-driven and ethical goals and proven commitments to CSR help retain employees. Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, and it’s that cohort that is increasingly demanding socially responsible employers.

Those that fail to meet the needs will ultimately see their customers take their purchasing power elsewhere.

Addressing the challenges

As obvious as it may sound for a business to take on as much CSR as possible, many organisations face limitations.

Pressure from investors can disrupt the growth of CSR initiatives. Sometimes, the direction that stakeholders want to take the company doesn’t fully align with plans to target social or environmental issues.

Companies face becoming fixated on linking profitability with CSR programmes. It can be tough to present a genuine CSR programme without it coming across as a marketing ploy – presenting an extra hurdle for businesses to overcome.

Despite the challenges businesses face that are out of their control, many firms unwittingly make their own mistakes that cost them dearly.

For example, businesses can struggle to bolster their CSR programmes if they don’t consult their customers and staff first. A simple survey helps companies decide what issues to put as a priority and target to satisfy their customer base and employees.

Any attempt to create an effective CSR programme needs top-down support. Many businesses wrongly treat CSR as a separate entity, rather than fostering a companywide culture. This can lead any attempt to push back on global issues to appear disingenuous to those looking in.

Shifting the CSR approach

Because of the global shift in public needs and opinions in recent years, businesses need to better demonstrate their efforts to avoid having their campaigns labelled as a box-ticking exercise.

It’s no secret that consumers are doing more research and are becoming more switched on to spotting lacklustre approaches to CSR. Also, everyone can have their say online – it’s much easier to get exposed if your CSR campaign is nothing but an empty publicity stunt.

For example, Volkswagen’s reputation was left in tatters after its ‘greenwashing’ scandal promoted a newer, cleaner diesel vehicle that wasn’t any better for the environment than previous models. The company took it further by fitting a device that helped it cheat emissions tests – resulting in a $125 million fine.

For this reason, CSR campaigns need tangible results to be credible and trustworthy.

Sharing top tips

When it comes to structuring a strong CSR campaign, it’s critical to demonstrate several things to prove your strategy is effective in helping the chosen cause.

Firstly, evidence the fact that your efforts are helping wider communities. Whether it’s through statistics or showing proof of investment in social causes, tangible evidence goes a long way when legitimising your CSR campaign.

Secondly, balance your rhetoric. Effective communications are vital to the success of a campaign. However, it can damage a company’s image when done poorly. Businesses should speak about their chosen issues in their dialogue rather than spending too much time talking about the solutions the company has implemented. This stops them from becoming too self-promotional or sounding braggy.

To further avoid this, make sure you can directly tie your CSR campaign to corporate values and beliefs. As well as helping to strengthen your comms, it will also guarantee that company values are more than just surface-level – helping to facilitate tangible, long-term change.

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How to Build Your Credit Up Safely

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by Taylor McKnight, Author for Compare Credit

 

What Is Credit?
Credit is money owed by a person that allows them to pay off debts at a lower interest rate. Most banks use your credit score to determine how much they should lend you. Any business loan or mortgage requires that you have a good credit history. However, if someone has poor credit(www.comparecredit.com/credit-cards/credit-range/poor/), they may struggle to pay back these loans, resulting in higher interest payments, making it more difficult than ever to repay the debt. Lenders are aware of this issue and keep a close eye on your credit rating to ensure that no negative information gets reported. This could prevent you from getting another loan in the future. It is important to note that having a bad credit score does not mean you have had a bankruptcy or other kinds of defaults. Many people often face this problem because of unpaid bills or late payment fees. However, this does not mean that you cannot repair your credit – it simply means that all parties involved must work together to solve the problem.

How to build your credit safely
Building your credit score is a major concern for most people, especially if they plan to purchase something as big as a home or car. A good credit score will help one get better rates in the future and make it easier to finance their next venture. Here are some things you should know to improve your credit to be used for the best possible purposes.

1. Keep paying down your balances every month: One of the biggest mistakes that could hurt your credit score is not paying your balance down each month. People who don’t pay their credit card down within the agreed-upon time typically have high-interest rates and expensive monthly costs.

2. Pay your bills on time: The same goes for making payments on a bill. Not paying it within the specified timeframe will result in negative information being added to your report, further lowering your credit score. Ensure that your bank statements are accurate and that all accounts are up to date.

3. Become an authorized user: Some companies will allow customers to become authorized users after meeting certain requirements. Take a look at the terms and conditions before applying for this option. These programs usually give access to one particular service, such as checking or ATM transactions, but are helpful when you need additional coverage.

4. Set up automatic credit card payments: There are several ways to set up auto payment options on your credit cards, including sending them directly to your checking account via email or the phone. In addition, you may want to consider enrolling in online banking services that automatically make payments from your checking account into your credit card accounts.

Other tips when it comes to credit
1. Learn how to manage debt responsibly. This is true for both personal and business debts. Many people tend to spend more than they earn, especially during rapid growth and expansion. If you find yourself facing difficult circumstances, you can seek assistance by talking to friends and family members, getting professional advice, or using online budgeting tools.

2. Don’t skip any repayments. This rule applies specifically to late payments. You need to continue making regular payments, even if you’re behind by a few days or weeks. Once you miss a payment, you’ll start accumulating late payments that negatively impact your score.

3. Try consolidating your loans. Consolidation involves combining multiple small loans from various sources into one large loan, thereby lowering the total interest cost of the loan and reducing the risk associated with it.

4. Be wise with your credit report. One huge mistake most people make is neglecting to pay their bills on time or paying only the minimum due balance each month. As a result, bad information remains on their reports, impacting their scores. All outstanding balances must be paid off completely. Otherwise, negative items that remain on your report can keep you from achieving the best borrowing potential.

5. Get your questions answered. If you have any questions regarding your credit, ask for answers now rather than waiting until you’re experiencing trouble. With a little research, you should be able to learn enough to begin repairing your damaged credit report.

What to look out for that can harm your credit
1. Not checking your credit report: Most people use their credit cards frequently but fail to check their credit reports periodically. Checking at least every 12 months can give you valuable insight into whether or not there are errors on your credit.

2. Paying your bills late: Late payments can lead to hard inquiries affecting your score, which means it appears that you’ve applied for more credit elsewhere. Make sure you never miss a bill.

3 You Close Old or Inactive Credit Cards: If your close old cards, they may show up on your credit report for some time. Closing accounts can impact your score by causing “hard inquiries” that appear on your credit report. Before closing them, look for inactive or closed card accounts on your credit report.

4. You Have Negative Records: Many people think they’re protected because they haven’t had past credit problems. However, many factors may cause a “bad” rating to linger. A single application for a credit product with a low limit may count towards a negative review.

5. There Are Errors on Your Report: Mistakes such as missing debt or inflated balances can damage your credit report. Find out how much money you owe and what types of products you purchased, then try to dispute those entries on your credit report. Ensure you correct any information that needs to be corrected. Failing to do so could hurt your chances of getting approved for future credit.

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