Welcome Home! Tips for helping deployed military personnel back into your business

by Jen Hickey.

Since 9/11, the U.S. has deployed the largest number of active duty and reservists since the Vietnam War. Of the more than2.3 million deployed (with over 760,000 National Guard and Reserve), about half have left the military (with about 640,000 Guard and Reservists deactivated). And over the next few years, it’s expected that even more soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen will be returning to or seeking civilian jobs. For small businesses, filling the boots of those citizen soldiers during sometimes multiple deployments of a year or more has had its costs. But keeping the lines of communication open before, during, and after deployment can help ease their transition back into the workplace. There are also legal and logistical factors a small business must consider if temporary help has been brought in during those deployments.

When Frank Strong, a career reservist, got orders to deploy to Iraq in October 2005, he was one-third of the marketing team at Tysons Corner, Virginia based Managed Objects, a $30-million software company of 100 people at the time. “As soon as you get notification of deployment, you’re obligated to let your employer know,” explains Strong. “so they can make the necessary adjustments.”  Before he left, Strong’s co-workers had a party for him and bought him an iPod. While his employer brought in help during his deployment, his position was open when he returned, as is required by law.

According to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), employers are obligated to reinstate uniformed services employees who have been deployed to the same position or one that is commensurate in responsibility and pay, as well as continue health benefits for up to 24 months. And depending on the length of deployment, returning uniformed services employees may beentitled to leave time before having to return to their civilian jobs. Returning service members are also entitled to any promotions and/or salary increases that may have occurred during their absence, as well as reinstatement of health benefits if they chose to use military health plan during deployment.

Including training leading up to his deployment, Strong was gone for about a year and a half, returning in the spring of 2007. But he kept in touch with his employer, exchanging emails with his boss at least monthly. “He’d keep me updated on what’s going on with the company,” recalls Strong. When he returned, Strong met with his boss and visited the office to let everyone know he’d be returning. “It’s important to show your face and let your employer know you’ll bet back,” notes Strong. “But employers should also encourage their employees to take the full time they’re allotted after their service, because you need that time to visit family and friends, arrange housing and get your life in order.” Upon his return from Iraq, Strong took the full 90 days he was entitled to before returning to work.

Louie Keen has employed several active-duty military, Reservists, National Guard, and veterans, as well as their spouses, at his three small businesses in St. Robert, Missouri, home to Fort Leonard Wood, the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Support Center, which trains up to 90,000 military and civilians each year. “When I hire someone, their family becomes part of the organization,” explains Keen. “Our soldiers are protecting our country, we try to do that for their families while they’re gone.” Keen keeps in contact with spouses and invites the families to company events and holiday parties. “It gives soldiers peace of mind knowing their families are being treated the same way while they’re away.”

 

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Generations at Work: How Different Generational Styles May Be Hampering Your Business

By Reed Richardson.

Some days it may feel like getting everyone in your small business to work together is a Herculean task. Even if your company consists of a handful of employees or just yourself and one other partner, there may be times when it seems like everyone else involved in your business is using a different playbook. It’s tempting to attribute this disorganized effort to differences in jobfunctions—salespeople aren’t in sync with the operations staff, human resources doesn’t understand the needs of customer service—but there may be another major factor contributing to a company’s lackluster performance, one that small business owners in particular frequently overlook: generational differences.

A decade ago, understanding how generational differences affect productivity in the workplace was often dismissed as a frivolous, touchy-feely topic, says David Stillman, co-author of the bookWhen Generations Collide. Now, however, he says more and more companies are realizing the very profound effect that the four generations currently comprising the U.S. workforce—Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials (see sidebar for demographic explanation)—can have upon their chances for success.

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Reaching Multicultural Audiences

Multicultural audiences are continuing to grow in size and influence. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 46.9 million Hispanics in the United States, which represents approximately one in six Americans. Further, a 2008 Pew Hispanic Center report said Hispanics have accounted for more than half of the overall population growth in the United States in the current decade, a significant pattern for the nation’s largest minority group, which currently comprises 15 percent of the total U.S. citizenry.  And The Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia projects that U.S. Hispanic purchasing power will reach $1.2 trillion by 2012, nearly three times the growth of the overall national rate.

Clearly, it is becoming increasingly important to target multicultural communities. So as communicators – how are we going to speak with these audiences? How are your messages going to be adjusted to really resonate in the daily lives of multicultural consumers? Some companies are well grounded on this highway and have understood the importance of adjusting their messaging for years. Examples include P&G, General Mills, McDonalds and Verizon. But are most marketers really ready?

The investment in multicultural marketing and campaigns should not solely focus on special times of the year such as Black History and Hispanic Heritage months, but should be year-long, ongoing programs that address a community’s needs. We have said- “dedicate dollars to these communities and the return will come with strong brand awareness and support.” Now it seems that if marketers don’t see that the mainstream is multicultural- your messages will fall short.

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Gen Y: Could They Be Your Generation Bu”Y”?

“I need to focus my marketing budget on more lucrative market segments.”

“Teenagers, college students and young adults in entry-level positions do not have any money to spend.”

“I’m not in the electronics or music business, so I’ve got nothing to sell to today’s young people.”

“I don’t understand customers under the age of 30.”

These are hypothetical reasons many owners of small businesses have given for ignoring “Generation Y” – the market segment of consumers born between approximately the mid-1980s and 2000. However, these assumptions miss a fundamental reality. While some members of Generation Y are still too young to have their own disposable income, this segment represents a tremendous amount of current and future buying power. For example, 42 percent of teenagers have a debit card and 33 percent have their own checking account, according to the recent Schwab surveyon “Teens and Money.” College students are in the formative years of developing spending habits and preferences.

Small businesses in particular are well positioned to capitalize on this growing market for the following reasons:

Small businesses are approachable.  Research shows that people under the age of 25 prefer the personal service and homespun feel of most small businesses. They are attracted to quirky, unique products and services that express their individuality.  If those products are green or organic, even better.  Generation Y is not interested in what their peers and neighbors have.  In other words, their mindset is the opposite of the “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” attitude prevalent among their parents. It’s all about individuality.

 

Small businesses are social.  Small businesses may be especially well equipped to communicate with young consumers through modes they prefer – social networking, mobile marketing and local events – for a variety of reasons:  Small companies can speak to young people in their own “language,” using a less polished, more up-to-the-minute tone in comparison to how most large enterprises typically do.  They can create immediacy by marketing a sale or special event that young customers can respond to in real time.  And they can have more intimate and meaningful two-way conversations with customers via Facebook fan pages and Twitter.  Small business will find that if you offer an experience or product worth discussion, Generation Y customers will do some of your marketing through word-of-mouth.

 

Small businesses listen.  Young people do not respond well to most traditional marketing but tend to engage better in conversations with companies that demonstrate they understand their needs. They are apt to develop loyal relationships with companies and brands that express the desire to hear them and are able to customize their offerings accordingly.

If you decide to engage with Generation Y, here are some tips to keep in mind when talking to a segment that accounts for $43 billion of U.S. spending power.

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Multicultural Marketing: Cultivating new customers from the explosive wave in ethnic growth

by Robert Lerose.

The face of the American consumer is changing dramatically, and the repercussions of those changes will be felt for decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans make up about 35 percent of the current U.S. population. By 2050, the Pew Research Center projects that non-whites will become the dominant ethnic group in the country.

With this group’s sizable buying power—amounting to about$2.5 trillion today—small businesses that actively court them through multicultural marketing efforts will find a significant source of new customers, new sales, and new brand-building opportunities.

These three groups are only the tip of the iceberg, too. “Multicultural has expanded to include several groups,” says Lisa Skriloff, president of New York-based Multicultural Marketing Resources, a marketing and public relations firm founded in 1994. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that a customer is of two cultures.”

Today, Skriloff says, members of a variety of groups—including people with disabilities, seniors, women, and smaller but identifiable ethnic groups—could be included in multicultural marketing.

Join ethnic associations

Some small businesses may be reluctant to wade into ethnic marketing because of misconceptions or fears. For example, sending out the wrong message because of a bad translation is a common concern. Or, not knowing which group within a larger ethnic group to target. “There are 15 different Asian groups,” Skriloff explains. She adds that some businesses trying to reach Hispanic consumers might be unsure of their country of origin.

But there are a number of steps that any small business can take to overcome these apprehensions and get started. For example, a retail establishment with an employee on staff who speaks Spanish could put out a sign saying “We Speak Spanish” in Spanish. They could also enlist the help of an agency that specializes in multicultural marketing.

Skriloff also recommends getting involved with associations and organizations that already serve the ethnic business community, such as the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, the Hispanic Federation, and the Asian American Advertising Federation.

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Reaching Multicultural Audiences

By:
Cristy Clavijo-Kish

Multicultural audiences are continuing to grow in size and influence. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 46.9 million Hispanics in the United States, which represents approximately one in six Americans. Further, a 2008 Pew Hispanic Center report said Hispanics have accounted for more than half of the overall population growth in the United States in the current decade, a significant pattern for the nation’s largest minority group, which currently comprises 15 percent of the total U.S. citizenry.  And The Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia projects that U.S. Hispanic purchasing power will reach $1.2 trillion by 2012, nearly three times the growth of the overall national rate.

Clearly, it is becoming increasingly important to target multicultural communities. So as communicators – how are we going to speak with these audiences? How are your messages going to be adjusted to really resonate in the daily lives of multicultural consumers? Some companies are well grounded on this highway and have understood the importance of adjusting their messaging for years. Examples include P&G, General Mills, McDonalds and Verizon. But are most marketers really ready?

The investment in multicultural marketing and campaigns should not solely focus on special times of the year such as Black History and Hispanic Heritage months, but should be year-long, ongoing programs that address a community’s needs. We have said- “dedicate dollars to these communities and the return will come with strong brand awareness and support.” Now it seems that if marketers don’t see that the mainstream is multicultural- your messages will fall short.

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE SOURCE & READ MORE!!