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Why Enterprise must address social issues Michael E. Porter

Today it is imperative that businesses and companies pay attention to the social environment. This view was recently expressed by a well-known Harvard Business School professor, Michael E. Porter, in an interview with Forbes Magazine.

According to Porter, nowadays the best chances for innovation, differentiation and business expansion are found via social engagement of companies. Recently, in an interview with Mark Kramer titled “Creating Shared Value”, he indicated that if businesses want to contribute to society it is not adequate corporate behavior or charity that matters most. Companies must address social matters and issues related to their business and have a decent strategy to implement these issues. This business model is in accordance with capitalism!

Companies must create a sort of shared value. This can be achieved, for example, by reducing their environmental impact and thus benefit their customers’ health, or by enhancing their customers’ financial security. Business expansion and profitability will benefit from measurable and self-funding solutions for actual social issues we are confronted with these days.
A few examples of businesses that show perfect strategies are Whole Foods and Novo Nordisk, who established a new model to introduce and profitably distribute  diabetes drugs in several low-income countries such as China. In global business we see more and more companies thinking and acting in this way. What a great development!
You can follow him on Twitter @MichaelEPorter

Interview with Bea Stanford. Website vs Online Brand

Kate Deliso: Whаt еxасtlу іѕ thе online brand?

Bea Stanford: Online brand іѕ thе online version оf уоur brand. But fіrѕt let’s mаkе clear whаt а brand is. A brand іѕ а perception thаt people hаvе аbоutbea-stanford-blog уоur company оr products. іt іѕ thеіr opinion аbоut уоur company. Yоu can’t control оthеr people’s opinion, уоu саn оnlу influence іt bу presenting уоurѕеlf іn а сеrtаіn way.
Sо thе online brand іѕ thе wау hоw people perceive уоur company оr product whеn thеу lооk uр thе company оn internet. And bесаuѕе people nowadays research еvеrуthіng bеfоrе making а decision аbоut а purchase, уоur online brand іѕ vеrу important. Althоugh vеrу important, it’s nоt јuѕt аbоut corporate websites, recently I had  a pleasure to do the online audit for the MackMo website, they specialize in researching and creating ranks for online MBA programs that don’t require GMAT and or cheapest online MBA programs. Although they have a great website and а company Facebook page аnd а Twitter account there were not enough independent, editorial information about the company. We made a plan to change it.

Website, Facebook, Twitter аnd оthеr social media аrе thе equivalent оf offline advertising. Wіth offline advertising people notice уоur ad, but nоt nесеѕѕаrу bеlіеvе it. Thеу wаnt tо validate whаt thеу ѕее аnd hear therefor it’s important to create a plan for additional reviews and articles about the company.

Kate: Whаt іѕ thе biggest mistake companies make Read more

Why Creating Shared Value matters

Absence of education for the poor, terrible poverty and a striking unequal distribution of wealth are issues that worry almost everyone on our planet. A possible solution to these problems could lie in policies of businesses that could profit from the issues.

Creating Shared Value is the name for this new approach that was established by Harvard professor Michael E. Porter. In fact Porter created a new business model that will lead to capitalist businesses making money by addressing social issues. When companies will be profitable, the business model will be self-financing.

“Shared Value can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking” ~Michael Porter – Harvard

Until recently corporations donated sums of money and engaged in CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs. Companies behaved ethically correct and tried to comply with community standards. Philanthropic donations, however, even if they constitute a considerable share of corporate profits, can never generate enough money to solve the gigantic issues that most countries are faced with. Philanthropy never can have enough economic impact and value.

Poor countries and communities have such an enormous need for infrastructure, education, housing and medical services that corporate donations and even government tax bases will not be sufficient to address these issues adequately.

“Creating Social Value” is already happening in Europe and the USA. Dutch corporation DSM and TenCate are good examples. They have increased sales exponentially since focusing on under-served customers.

 

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Help your customers to find your business

virtual-coffeeWith so many changes in online marketing businesses need to make sure their website can be found by potential customers. This is something what is called a local search engine optimization, it means that you should focus on local search engine results and make sure your website can be found if somebody is searching for your type of business in the city you operate in. Of course it can be super challenging if you like  the Educate The USA website need to promote more than 500 locations of  the GED courses throughout USA.

How exactly do you optimize for local search?

It’s really very comparable to national optimization and your NAP (Name, address, phone number) should be on every page of your site—generally in the footer. Present this information exactly how you formatted it for Google local listing so the two are identified as the same business and include you City, State and of course business title in title tags, meta descriptions and in the content on your site when you can naturally incorporate it. Read more

Solar Powered Internet School-Samsung CSR

Recently, the Samsung Engineering Academy, located in Boksburg South Africa, established its model for the first “Solar Powered Internet School”. This model is actually the first exclusively solar-powered unit in the world and is in fact a mobile and totally independent classroom.

The program is concentrated on giving more people a broader access to education and connectivity throughout the African continent. The school was developed particularly for remote portions of Africa where there is hardly any availability of electricity or none at all.

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The Samsung “Solar Powered Internet School” is targeting one of Africa’s greatest economic difficulties, the lack of electricity in remote areas. More than seventy percent of Africa’s remote and rural regions do not have a regular supply of electricity. This situation has led to isolated communities that have hardly any access to education and connectivity. Both education and connectivity are extremely important for speeding up the development of regions and nations.

Samsung’s initiative is a good example of the company’s investment in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the world and on the African continent in particular.

Samsung concentrates on education and clearly demonstrates the company’s involvement in innovation in order to address the needs and worries of the people on the African continent.  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is getting attention not only top performing corporation but also by top business schools. Much more leading business schools are taking the CSR MBA specialization seriously, even cheapest online mba programs added to their curriculum sustainability.

The launch of the school is a next step following the company’s product range  ‘Built for Africa’ and the start of the “Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy”.

The “Solar Powered Internet School” is situated in a 40 foot shipping container (12 meters). This makes the schools readily transportable to remote rural regions by using trucks. The container-schools are especially created to function in environments where there is no or little energy supply. The schools furthermore can function well in extreme weather conditions and are equipped to be transported by trucks over long distances. Solar panels that can be folded away make sure there is enough electricity to run the equipment in the school for as many as nine hours per day, and these solar panels guarantee the classroom can fully operate for more than one day if there is no sunlight at all. To make sure they will not become damaged because of long journeys across the African continent, the solar panels are manufactured from rubber materials rather than from glass.

The “Solar Powered Internet School” was labeled African Solar Project of the Year by the Africa Energy Awards. These awards recognize projects that are important for growth and success of the development of  energy in Africa. Many MBA schools discuss this project as a perfect example of social responsibility as this subject become more and more important.
Samsung is internationally respected for its broad educational efforts in Africa and the company announced that it will double its marketing efforts on the African continent to boost their smartphone sales.
As a lot of companies are moving out of the African Market, Samsung is actually entering a lot of new territories and countries by investing heavily in education, infrastructure and human resources.
Samsung is a good example of a business “Doing well by doing good”.

MBA students might be interested in fact that Samsung also offers MBA internship programs, I could not find a working link for it but keep your eyes open.

What Small Business Can Learn From Pure Diet E-Commerce Marketing

Meal-Kit-Giveaway_copy_grandeThis is a story of a very specific business but because their market is super competitive, every business from gasket makers to the  high end recruitment firms can learn a thing or two from Pure Diet. They started out as a family-owned specialty grocer in Tualatin, Oregon. It’s on the outskirts of metro Portland and offers a variety of low-carb, gluten-free and/or diabetic-friendly foods. Fans drive from miles away for the soft serve ice cream, rich in protein from the whey powder. However, the owners knew right away depending on the small, local circle of obsessive fans wasn’t enough — they needed to tap into e-marketing to really make it work.

It started out the way most companies do, with a Facebook fan page and updates on the ice cream flavor of a day. Then things started to get serious. More customers were interested in Paleo, and Paleo-friendly foods began to line the shelves. However, it’s one thing to know Paleo is good for a certain person, and it’s another to make it easy for them. Meal kits were the next big thing, and there was no shortage of demand. Read more

Doing well by doing good, Novartis

Novartis belong to the world’s largest corporations in the pharmaceutical industry, and the company has its headquarters in the Swiss town of Basel. The company defines its mission as “discovering, developing, and successfully marketing innovative products in order to prevent and to cure diseases. The company aims to ease suffering, and to improve the quality of human life.”
The Novartis company has a long standing tradition of activities that relate to corporate citizenship which is clearly demonstrated by the company’s commitment to developing products for neglected diseases and developing programs to enhance accessibility to these products.

The company demonstrated this attitude very clearly in India where they set up a shared value program in order to benefit local communities and to sell their pharmaceutical products. Seventy percent of India’s population lives in rural regions, and the biggest hurdle was actually not the prices the company charged for their products. The problems were more of a social nature in these rural regions. The population chronically lacked interest in seeking healthcare for their communities, and most healthcare providers operated without virtually any qualified education and professional training. Furthermore, most of the thousands local clinics operated with no reliable supply chain at hand.
Novartis recognized these social problems and regarded them as business opportunities, thus taking a shared value point of view. The company hired a few hundred educators to train community health providers, organized educational healthcare training camps for clinical workers, and took care of setting up a distribution organisation for over 50,000 clinics in remote regions of India. Now this is a study case and MBA students analyze how other businesses could create business, even cheapest MBA programs online teach about Novartis. No wonder so many MBAs alumni want to work for Novartis.

As a result of this process Novartis developed a totally new business model that the company sees as absolutely essential for expansion and growth in the future. It is predicted that in the next few decades, underdeveloped countries and emerging markets will be responsible for at least seventy percent of the growth in sales of pharmaceutical products worldwide.
As a result of Novartis’ activities, today more than 42 million people in rural regions in India have gained accessibility to a widely enhanced healthcare system. Without the company’s vision and contributions this could have never been established.

Sustainability and Brand Value

For the last decade sustainability was mostly a word found in management journals, corporate documents and environmentally engaged websites.
But now, in the year 2013, we are able to state confidently that “sustainability” is really an established way to create and sustain Brand Value.

Sustainability is important in marketing and generates new sources of revenue. Many innovative products generate huge sales. Today many products and services are built around the idea of sustainability. Just think of hybrid and electric cars or of detergents that will clean your laundry at much lower temperatures, thus saving a lot of energy.

The preferences and choices of customers are positively influenced by sustainability. If a brand has managed to become associated with sustainability or identified as sustainable, it can make sure it will be surrounded with a halo. Today, customers will be more inclined to buy the brand .

Sustainability is responsible that the longevity of the business is guaranteed. Companies that adapt their business and products to the needs and the reality of our planet, and that adjust all their processes, supply chain, raw materials,and waste disposal accordingly, will hugely benefit from their sustainability efforts, creating Brand Value.

How Brands persuade customers to live greener

Brands have the power to influence the behavior of customers. This actually has been a very interesting development of marketing for the past years when it comes to sustainability. Brands have the experience to convince customers to buy products, and so-called progressive brands have used their skills to persuade us to buy greener and more sustainable products, companies can also grow their business and increase revenue by offering green product. For example after Beckmann Groep decided to offer solutions for charging plug-in electric vehicles at home, their revenue grew 65%.

Over 2,600 years ago Aesop already stated a basic truth when he said “persuasion is frequently more effective than the use of force”. For a long period of time people have obsessively tried to understand the mystery of persuasion and many brands have persuaded customers with great success. Brands actually are the greatest masters when it comes to convincing us to purchase things we never knew we wanted.

It is an encouraging sign that recently many socially responsible brands have been using their respected persuasion power to convince their consumers to buying sustainable and greener.
These responsible brands are active in changing buying behavior for products, changing their customers’ lifestyles, and applying their marketing power and expertise to persuade customers to buy greener.

McDonald’s had an enormous success with its own persuasion campaign. The company wanted to play an active role in reducing waste and litter in the communities where they are active. The company started by changing the looks of their food trays and packaging materials. They added both images of littered streets and a litter-free streets.
This clear message in a simple visuality resulted in a subconscious awareness and a change in behavior. McDonalds reported a huge decrease in complaints from neighbors regarding litter.
If brands want to be persuaders they can learn a lot from this example. The best recipe for  communicating behavioral change consists of very clear directives regarding the desired behavior, cautiously decorated with visual social nuances.

How Randstad is making a difference in recruitment

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Randstad belongs to the worldwide leading employment/staffing organizations, and the company controls around six percent of global staffing. This is quite considerable in a seriously fragmented business and the company has a total share value of around $6 billion. Worldwide Randstad is known for their efforts in promoting employer branding and  identifying the most attractive companies in various countries throughout the globe. The survey findings are used to produce three kinds of reports focused on companies, countries and sectors. Bea Stanford talked with Frans Cornelis, CMO of Randstad about their  business strategies.

Most of Randstad’s revenues are realized in North-Western Europe (France, Holland, Germany, the UK and Belgium). North America contributes for about 23 percent, and around half of the company’s growth is the result of mergers and acquisitions.

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Frans Cornelis is CMO of Randstad. He indicates that the key strategies to create growth for Randstad are actually acquisitions and organic growth, but that both strategies are directly connected to the company’s branding strategy. Frans Cornelis has been with Randstad during the last decade and he subsequently is quite familiar with the company’s business strategy. He says Randstad has developed a highly effective process to manage acquisitions. The company has proven to successfully integrate different organizational cultures as they see this as the most essential value component of any deal. The company’s most important method in applying a branding strategy after an acquisition is called perceptional mapping.

Perception Mapping is the analysis and representation of the influenceable differences in the people’s perception between two or more business competitors.
It is Randstad’s policy to monitor most of the company’s competitors closely. This will give the company a head start when it comes to prospective acquisitions. Normally the newly acquired business will immediately be rebranded and normally the whole process of changing all communications and marketing aspects within the acquired business will take less than a year.

Randstad’s corporate branding strategy is using the same slogan worldwide – So Good To Know You. This meanwhile well-known expression has made the company a truly “Global Superior Brand”. This branding strategy is allowing the company to overcome cultural differences and to play an important role in different local markets worldwide.
There are occasions, however, that the company acquires businesses that have a specific culture that will not precisely fit the Randstad brand. In those rare situations, the acquired business is rebranded in a different way, and usually will be labeled under the Tempo Team Brand. Both Randstad and Tempo Team promotes education. 

About ten years ago, in Belgium, Randstad started awarding companies that were recognized as highly attractive employers by the general public. These awards have become an important industry standard and the research is conducted completely independent. Sometime the survey is run in companies in other cases in classrooms  for example in GED preparation classes according to http://educatetheusa.com/. So the reach is quite big.

The award ranking is determined by as many participants as possible who are asked if they ever heard of the partaking companies and then if they would be interested in working for this company. Actually the award ranking is made up by this relative attractiveness. Regardless of their position, employees, job prospectives and also people not interested in getting a new job are thus deciding on what company will be receiving the award for Best Employer. The awards are granted in 14 countries where Randstad is operating.

Randstad is listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange and therefore a public company. Over the last ten years the company’s global market share has risen to the second position. This has made Randstad globally the fastest growing company in its business
Randstad rightly is one of the Best Dutch Brands.