Friday, August 17, 2007

Is it time for your case study?

Case studies are an increasingly popular marketing tool. A case study is a customer success story. For example, your company may have helped a company save money or time by using your product. With that company's permission, you can write a case study that outlines that company's problem and how you helped that company solve their problem.

Case studies are usually short, about 1,000 words maximum. Once a case study is written, it can be posted to information portals that publish management pieces, sent to your potential clients, or posted prominently on your website.

Because of their brevity, case studies generally aren't expensive. The case study is an effective method to carry your message to potential clients or to remind past customers that you can assist them with future problems.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Brain drain

I'm about to release a White Paper on managing the coming information crunch from Brain Drain in the insurance industry. During the process of researching this article, I've talked to a great many insurance professionals to discover ways insurance companies are dealing with the impending talent crunch.

By and large, I've found that few companies are strategically tackling this problem. One company that has impressed me with its efforts to develop a mentoring program to address this issue (among other employment issues they face) is Aon Services Corporation. I spoke at length today to one of their senior managers, who spent almost an hour to assist me by describing steps her company is taking to address important employment issues such as talent loss and inter-generational management concerns.

If you know of any other insurance organizations that are working proactively to address intellectual capital losses whether from retirement or other issues such as downsizing, please let me know. My contact information is found on my website at Insurance Writer.

While not all experts agree that a talent crunch is coming, demographics show with startling clarity what our industry should expect in the next decade. Once I publish the paper, I'll either let you know where to find it or post it on my website.

Friday, August 3, 2007

How to write a thank you

I am a big believer in "thank you" notes. It's the way my mother raised me and it stuck. I have noticed in business that many people don't seem to know when it is appropriate to thank people.

Ann Marie Sabath in her book Business Etiquette offers a great rule of thumb. If someone does something for you that takes longer than 15 minutes of his or her time, a written "thank you" is appropriate. She also counsels against sending an e-mail thanks, except when the effort the other expended on your behalf is minimal.

Some experts argue that a typed letter is more appropriate in business settings. However, I usually send handwritten notes. I keep several boxes of professional looking thank you cards on hand and even if I'm a little late, I still send them.

Write legibly! Many of us write so infrequently now that our handwriting may be difficult to decipher.

Here are some of the reasons I find to send notes.
  • When a colleague refers business to me. Many people will not refer business again to colleagues who don't say thanks, at least via e-mail.
  • When a client retains your services, especially for the first time.
  • When a client pays me for larger projects and from time to time, just to say "thanks" for their continued patronage.
  • When a potential client takes time out of his or her busy day to listen to me pitch my services.
  • When a colleague provides input or advice beyond casual assistance.

Always keep the tone professional. If you don't think your recipient has your business card, enclose one, otherwise, you can omit your card. Don't enclose more than one card because it may appear that you're looking for more referrals.

If the referral is a major one, a gift may be appropriate such as candy, flowers or a gift card. This varies by company and its corporate policy, so be sure you send something they can accept.

People like to help, but most appreciate being acknowledged for their assistance. It only takes a few moments to write the note, but it is often the right thing to do.