Thursday, February 10, 2011

Superbowl ads

This past weekend, we saw the biggest event of the year for marketers working with the American consumer. What event? The Super Bowl, of course. We may ignore the football side of it, but the commercials that run during the game provide us with a plenitude of material for consideration when thinking about our own marketing campaigns.

One of more interesting ads from this year's game for me was the "Built in America" commercial for BMW:

This campaign struck me as particularly surprising, since in the past, BMW has primarily tried to build up an image of the more non-traditional, a little crazy and young, yet luxurious and stylish brand of cars. This Sunday, though, what they did is attempt to appeal to the tradition-valuing crowd. They talked about South Carolina, about Americans building BMW's from scratch, and, last but not least, they placed the ad on the Super Bowl, which also is meant to attract a particular kind of an audience.

So we can see how BMW, perhaps, is reconsidering the way it presents its brand to potential customers. Or, maybe, this was only an attempt to appeal to a secondary market to supplement its usual, eccentric-but-classy crowd.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Why hire without industry experience

A manager that is looking for a new team member faces a stressful situation: The sooner does his firm need to fill a position, the more pressure lies on his shoulders. As a result, he is less likely to find the person that the firm actually needs. When the HR are desperate for someone to occupy a role, that role is prone to be filled with somebody who may have a shining resume and a laundry list of helpful accomplishments, and yet lack the right personality that would match the employing company's profile. What ends up happening after signing of the contract and a period of successful, promising work is a clash between the identities of the company and the new employee.
The new business development manager presses for a lower-cost source of coffee beans in a cafe that prizes its own fair trade values. The new marketing officer gets fed up with daily mandatory dessert tastings while working for a trendy bakery in the middle of a busy city.
Both the cafe and the bakery are the companies that they are because of their staff's original quirks that the companies do not have to accommodate to survive. The new employees don't fit in - and that doesn't mean they are bad workers. Their values just don't correspond with your firm's.
That is where hiring on a rolling basis would be handy. Looking out for the right people for a venture when it doesn't have a particular role to fill takes pressure off the hiring process and therefore allows the firm to find the people that would make it what it aims to be.
With that said, the new employees do not have to have specific skills - since there aren't certain positions they would fulfill. Instead, they would create their own roles within the company by bringing their own quirks and passions to the table. Any technical skills can then be acquired already on the job (this should be especially easy considering that the new guy loves working at the firm. Those who don't love it shouldn't be hired.)
Industry experience might even become an obstacle in this situation. Having worked at another place that offers similar products as yours, the person's output will be impacted by the rival's values. A conflict of corporate differences would then not help any business that seeks to have its individual voice. And any firm, at that, should aim to do just that.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How and why to become a non-profit for a day

When we are talking about corporate social responsibility, it is very important to ensure that there are sincere intentions behind every corporate decision that is made with sustainability in mind. Sure, this sounds self-explanatory: don't go green-washing, because that will not help anybody, it will waste resources and, on top of everything else, might also ruin your company's image in the future. Empty CSR is wrong, and everyone knows that.
However, putting sincerity behind a company's pledge to care for its stakeholders does not come as easily as we'd wish. Since most firms exist for the sake of generating profits, corporate motivations oftentimes naturally conflict with working to improve the society's well-being. People can get greedy, which is especially difficult to control in a firm with multiple employees. The more players there are in the picture, the higher the chances that responsibility gets diluted and, as a result, nobody cares enough to do what is right: There is always somebody else within the company to blame for one's mistakes. This goes true both for having multiple workers under the same roof and for multiple firms sharing the same market.
A good way to isolate your company's profits from your company's goodwill to ensure that both survive and prosper is to regularly devote a portion of your company's time to seeking benefit for the society, while acting as a normal for-profit the rest of the year.
An excellent example of this alternative CSR strategy is Google's 20% time program. Under this plan, Google allows its engineers devote every Friday purely to projects that interest them personally. As a result, creative thinking is encouraged and is not bogged down by profit-seeking, which leads to the extraordinary innovations that we know Google to introduce for the world. Couldn't get more responsible.
Another example of this temporary non-profiteering is to pick a day each month where your staff's performance is measured on a scale other than sales or profits. If you are a dentist, for example, and you own a few offices, offer a prize to the office whose wait in line was shortest at the end of the day. Or reward the salesperson who decreases gas usage per sale from month to month. This is fun to do and can be very rewarding for your bottom line, even though the exercise aims at isolating your firm from its income statement as much as possible for one day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Weekend Business Challenge 2: the glorious results

NVSBS spent a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend in appreciation of our blessings and in speculation about corporate social responsibility. Now, with another WBD weekend behind us, NVSBS would like to present two articles about the practical implications of corporate social responsibility.

Today, we'd like to feature several words by Nikolay Safonov, CEO of NVS Business Solutions. Sasha's article on CSR will come in the next post on the NVSBS blog, so tune back in on Sunday, comment, subscribe, and enjoy the world of small opportunities for improvement.

The Internship Program that Might Save the World

Some can argue that corporate social responsibility can only coexist with diminished profit. I would like to offer a form of CSR that creates value for shareholders.

There are tons of high-school dropouts that end up in depressed sectors of economy with very little hope for social elevation. In the meantime, corporations suffer from high staff turnover, and consequential losses from the “Rookie effect”.

What if the corporations offer internship not only to university students, but to these outsiders too? Sounds crazy? But listen. When an internship is positioned as a “one shot” opportunity, disadvantaged applicants will take this opportunity to break away from their misery very seriously. Meanwhile, they will have a taste of the corporate environment, which can give them an impulse to go back to school.

In addition, during the internship they will acquire skills that are difficult to acquire in a different atmosphere. These will open up their choices in regards to employment.

Eventually, when the expertise gap is closed, high school drop-outs will be much more inclined to apply for a job in a fostering company.

As a result, everybody will win. The society will see the number of people living below a poverty line decrease. Companies will recruit loyal, skillful and dedicated staff.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A socially responsible extension- The Weekend Business Challenge

Due to the holiday weekend, Nick and I decided to extend the scond Weekend Business Challenge until this Thursday, December 2nd, 2010. We wish you a bright start to the new week, and we are hoping to hear more of your ideas about CSR. Ciao!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank you - can the world be more beautiful?

At NVSBS, we are thankful for the innovators in this world. They bring new joy to our lives every day.
We are thankful for those who offer their time to criticize our ideas.
We would like to especially thank those who work while we are on a holiday.
We highly appreciate musicians, cooks, parents, teachers, artists, actors, and gardeners who sacrifice their time for the sake of what they feel is their calling in life.
We are thankful for those who make sacrifices for the sake of what they believe to be the right thing to do.

Thank you, readers. Thank you, subscribers. Thank you, critics and supporters. You bring meaning to this world.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What is corporate social responsibility? The Weekend Business Challenge 2

Corporate social responsibility – which people also call by other interesting names like CSR, sustainability, and corporate conscience – is a model of business behavior that regulates a company in a way that aims toward generating benefit to the society. This CSR entails activities that range from making donations to nonprofit organizations and hosting recycling programs to making social responsibility the entire company's pivotal goal. In its strongest form, CSR runs next to social entrepreneurship. It is unclear however which form of CSR bring the most monetary profit, and whether it is appropriate for profit and social responsibility to stand next to each other in the same discussion.

After a brief break, NVSBS is coming back to challenge your minds with a new Weekend Business Challenge. This time, we would like to hear your ideas fire up into a discussion of corporate social responsibility. Do you believe that CSR is necessary in the modern world or, rather, that it creates inefficiencies that hurt society? We'd like to hear every one of your ideas about how to best implement sustainability in a corporate environment.

When I think about CSR, my mind inevitably arrives at the thought that today, too many businesses participate in their actions because they think they are supposed to. Too companies create environmental sustainability programs because of a lack of better ideas. Unless your firm transforms the wind into energy, these commitments to alien goals will not be able to bring much benefit.

So what should we do? You tell me, and I will tell you.

This challenge will run until Sunday, November 28th. Once we have all your submissions on the twenty-eighth, I will read and feature them in the post for that day. Also, I will answer my own questions and I expect that our collaboration will leave everybody with fresh ideas and satisfaction from spreading wisdom and increasing the world's well-being meter as a team.

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