For Microsoft Dynamics AX Veterans, Just Learn What’s Different About Discrete Manufacturing in AX 2012

Note: The following article is drawn from Scott’s new book about discrete
manufacturing using Dynamics AX 2012.  A similar article
reflected Scott’s book about food products manufacturing using AX 2012.

Many Microsoft Dynamics AX
solution architects are trying to ramp up their expertise with Microsoft Dynamics
AX 2012….
Microsoft Dynamics News

10 Keys to a Successful Marketing Partnership

You would never try to write your own legal contracts. You certainly wouldn’t dream of trying to perform your own root canal. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even attempt to change the oil in your car.

There’s a reason these tasks are left to the professionals. They require a high level of expertise to ensure success. One misstep could have disastrous consequences.

The task of growing your business is no different. Getting and keeping customers is the very lifeblood of your organization, and as such, must be handled with surgical precision. Don’t shortchange your business growth goals or leave the critical process of building community around your brand to chance.

There are many hidden costs of do-it-yourself marketing – not the least of which are a loss of time, loss of focus on running and managing your business and loss of money if you are still playing by the outmoded rules of old marketing. If you are not capitalizing on every opportunity to engage with your customers and prospects via new technologies and new media, your competitors will, and you’ll be left behind.

Yes, you need the creative resources of an agency. But more than that, you need a trusted business partner that is invested in your long-term success. It’s not about flashy ad campaigns or catchy slogans. It goes far beyond advertising and branding. Trustcasting agencies are experts in more than just the creative arena. The real value in working with a trustcasting agency is applying creativity to every element of business growth.

When you choose the right trustcasting agency, you’ll have an equal and proactive partner in the growth of your business. Nothing is more important in today’s marketplace than cultivating and nurturing your core group of customers. Finding them, engaging them in community, building their trust and putting their passion to work to help you grow – this is the specialty of the trustcasting agency.

Working with a trustcasting agency requires you to do more than give your blessing to creative campaigns and sign checks when the invoices arrive. The best marketing partnerships start with you. You must come to your agency with an open mind but armed with clear objectives, good perspective, creative ideas and solid data. You must be prepared to back up their efforts by creating a culture of quality and service within your business to ensure that you practice what you preach.

Following are 10 practices you must implement in order to actively engage with your trustcasting agency in promoting the growth of your business.

Good discipline goes a long way

Your business – and the promotion of it – thrives on your ideas. You must have a clear vision for your company: How will it grow? What do your customers need, and how do you address those needs? How do you create a brand that people embrace as part of their own identity? How do you excite your fans to the point of being your evangelists?

Achieving this level of clarity requires an investment of time, effort and focus – with the greatest emphasis on time. The only way you can make the time you need to grow is through vigilance with regard to organization and productivity.

Efficiency creates more opportunities for profit, while disorganization has significant opportunity costs. Having the right work environment saves you time and money every day. Steve Strauss, author of The Small Business Bible, coined the term R.O.O. (return on organization, estimating that “increased R.O.O. can yield up to an extra two hours of productive time a week and up to an additional six percent of revenue.”

For a business owner or marketer, good time management is just as important as sound financial management. Eliminate distractions. Stop multi-tasking. Clear your desk and clear your mind.

Give yourself the time you need to take a step back and gain perspective. Focus on ways to improve your internal operations, your employee morale, your customer service and your product or service offering, and bring your best ideas to your trustcasting agency.

Out of order comes inspiration

Once you’ve organized your work environment and maximized your productivity, you’ll find that the space and time you’ve created for yourself paves the way for inspiration to follow.

The good news: inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime. Keep your eyes open, be present in the moment and be an active observer of the world around you. Blogs, Twitter, books, magazines, art, friends, neighbors, customers – any of these can be the source of your next big idea as long as you are perpetually searching and constantly in tune with your passion for growing your business.

The challenge of inspiration is that you never know just when it will strike. Ideas don’t arrive on schedule. In fact, they are probably least likely to come when you are sitting in front of your computer. More often than not, your best thinking happens when you are driving, cooking, sleeping or even brushing your teeth. Make sure you always keep your journal or smartphone at hand so you can jot down a note whenever and wherever you might be.

Part of being a good entrepreneur is being a good steward of ideas. Don’t allow inspiration to pass you by without capturing it, and don’t allow the motivation behind it to dissipate before you explore all the possibilities that lie therein.

Every idea has the potential to become something valuable, even if you can’t immediately recognize how to execute or monetize it. That’s where your trustcasting agency comes into play. Bring them all of your ideas – no matter how rough and unrefined. They’ll help you sift through them, identify the gems and polish them into a brilliant and actionable business growth strategy.

Playing the numbers game

It’s a fact: business growth requires some degree of trial and error. However, that’s not to say that you can’t tip the odds of achieving success in your favor.

In today’s marketplace, good marketing is more cost-efficient than ever before, but it all starts with good data. You need a solid foundation in order to ensure that your efforts are driving revenue rather than undermining profitability.

The key is having good metrics in place – metrics that go much deeper than just measuring traffic to your website. You need to quantify your core business operations. At the most basic level, you must know the real cost to acquire a new customer and the lifetime value of that customer.

There are a number of factors that play into these figures: What brings your customers in the door? What motivates a them to make a purchase? How much do they spend? How many times do they return? What brings them back, and who do they tell about their experience? If they leave, where did they go and why? By answering these questions, you can determine the level of investment you must make in your marketing and trustcasting efforts in order to continue to grow.

If you have a Web presence and are active in social media, it’s also critical to keep a finger on the pulse of your online community. Again, it starts with the basics: the number of visitors to your site, what brought them there, how long they spend there and what causes them to leave.

But in the Web marketing universe, where community building is essential to brand building, you must take this analysis much further. Is your online following growing, and if so, how quickly? What is the ratio of active members to total members? How many mentions are you getting in the social web, and are they positive or negative? Are your fans sharing your content and links with their friends, and are their friends then passing these on to others within their own networks?

If this sounds daunting, don’t worry. Your trustcasting agency can show you how to take your business processes and break them down to the numbers. Together you can examine the data to determine what’s working and what’s not and use this information as a baseline for improvement. In doing so, you can be sure that you are making a sound investment in growth, not just spending money and hoping for a good return.

There is no substitute for consistency and quality

Now that you’ve made an objective analysis of your business operations, it’s time to take a subjective look at your brand and its perception in the marketplace.

Sit down with your trustcasting agency and inventory everything that you put in front of your customers – from your signage to your business cards to your merchandise displays to your advertising and website.

Evaluate each element with critical eye. What do these things say about you? Do they all work together cohesively to make a clear and deliberate statement? Or are they sending mixed messages about who you are and what you stand for? Worse yet, are they turning potential customers away because they project a lack of professionalism or quality?

As you work through this process, a good exercise is to look at the best of the best – companies like Apple, BMW and Nike that have mastered quality in the perception of their brand. What trends do they follow? What is the common thread that runs through everything they release into the marketplace?

For example, Apple has built their name on unparalleled quality in design, and nothing reaches the consumer that doesn’t reflect their unrelenting dedication to protecting this reputation. From their products to their packaging to their stores to their ads, Apple is invested in sending a clear and consistent message that they stand for innovative, beautiful design. As a result, when people do business with Apple, they know exactly what to expect time after time.

You can’t fake quality. Your customers can always tell when you cut corners, and it undermines their trust in you. Instead, you must recognize the importance of quality

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 Anticipation Builds Amid Release Preparation Activities

For Microsoft Dynamics GP professionals and users on the leading
edge, few things will dominate the conversation these days like the impending  GP 2013 release. 

GP 2013 features have been getting coverage and reviews from
GP veterans like Mark
Polino, Mariano Gomez,
and Ian Grieve. 

According to Polino, out of the upcomin…
Microsoft Dynamics News

Content Marketing in a Blink (Infographic)

  Check out this good visual illustrating content marketing and the connection between content type, distribution channel and the multi-stage purchase funnel… For a full view of the infographic and to read the article, click here.  …
Achieve Market Leadership

How Prison Educators Transform Themselves Into Value Added Representatives

In beginning a search for the most effective way to influence a change in offender behavior, it is necessary to review a few basic tenets.

No program will help a person who is not sincerely committed to changing their life.
Most criminal offenders are nontraditional learners.
External changes last only as long as a person is under supervision or in custody.
90% of the offender population made a conscious choice to commit crime.
Offenders need to become adept at measuring the long-term and short-term costs of their actions.
The Value of Values

In order to apply these tenets — to move theory into practice — educators and facilitators must understand the key role that is played by the value system of each offender. The fact is, many offenders have heard the good versus bad rhetoric many times. They are well aware of right and wrong in the eyes of society. The evidence indicates that it’s not that offenders don’t understand the values. It shows instead that, for one reason or another, they see no value in the mainstream system or no place for themselves within it. Put in that light, the focus must shift from the external forces of society to an introspective analysis of the individual.

Value Added

In designing or implementing programs for change, it is helpful to borrow from business the concept of the value-added reseller (VAR). A repetitive drone of the virtues of right versus wrong will not change behaviors. They will be changed when a value is added to the concepts the system is trying to sell. In other words, each offender needs to decide for him or herself that the doors opened through appropriate behavior are worth the immediate cost (change).

This cost analysis begins with an honest look at the values that drive individual offender behavior. For example, an Orange offender might indicate that he or she values drugs. Given the task at hand, it may seem appropriate to respond to this with a consequence statement. That statement however, does not provide the offender a chance to delve into his or her values, joys, needs, and strengths. When invited (or prodded) to dig deeper, he or she will find that it’s not the drugs that hold the value; rather it’s the risk-taking, fun, and freedom that they provide (at least temporarily).

Once down to the basics that drive the behavior, we need to continue to build in introspection and analysis of those driving forces. We need to begin building connections between offender values, behaviors, and goals. Only when we include this value added component, will significant and lasting behavioral change begin to occur.

If you’re not exactly sure if you are primarily a Blue, Gold, Green, or Orange personality type, then check out the free test at where you can learn more about human temperament. When you subscribe to the free blog, you’ll also receive a number of tips and strategies for finding more success with the people in your life, both at home and in the workplace.

About the Author: Nathan Bryce is the inventor of the world’s first patented personality system, the Insight Temperament System, which applies the research of Carl Jung, David Keirsey, Isabel Myers (and many others) into real-life settings. His educational company, the non-profit Insight Learning Foundation, teaches hundreds of thousands of people all around the world how to understand people better. Please visit for more information.

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Microsoft Dynamics Partner Roundup: Master Data; Lync with CRM; eCommerce on Windows Server 2012; AX Manufacturing Win; NAV with Services Management

In this week’s Microsoft Dynamics partner news

  • Arbela
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    Releases New Version Of Its TelephoneIntegration Addon
  • eCommerce
    Integrated with Microsoft Dynamics is Certified for Windows Server 2012
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Microsoft Dynamics GP Team Offers New Tips for Selling Against NetSuite

Microsoft may only claim to see NetSuite in a "small
percentage" of its competitive Dynamics GP deals, as product manager Jay
Manley writes
in a new blog post, but he wants GP partners to arm themselves with the
latest competitive responses to the charges that NetSuite may throw down, which
he has posted
to PartnerSource. 

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Content Marketing and Social Media Spell Differentiation for Channel Players

This week we are pleased to include a guest blog from Jeff Hine, Founder and Managing Director, Clear Sight Consulting. Jeff is a Technology Writer, Marketer, and Consultant, focused on IT Services, Channel Routes to Market, and Emerging Trends in Cloud Computing. His expertise is grounded in a 20 year career of selling technology to [...]

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How a Digitally Savvy CMO Can Increase Shareholder Value

  Do companies with digitally-savvy CMOs outperform their market peers?  We think so. We recently ran across  an article that gives several good examples to back up that thinking, along with 3 interactive marketing strategies that can assist with boosting shareholder value: Pair memorable creative with effective targeting Engage consumers w…
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Off-Shoring and Strategic Partnership

Companies that are highly dependent on information and systems should renovate constantly. There is more and more information to be processed because companies and their environments get more complex. Products are enhanced with more features because of constant innovation. Also the internet society adds an interesting element in this complexity which is the chaining of activities. We depend more than ever on others and the exchange of information is key to keep up with this contest.

Systems take care of this stream of information, but only if they are designed well. Over the years this has resulted in various types of solutions. Companies, especially the larger ones have applied there own resources in building a system. Then other companies took over this specialization and they designed and developed specific packages that were sold to other companies. Outsourcing followed on the trend that companies should focus on their core business. Off-shoring is somewhere in between all these developments. Off-shoring is a process where a demanding company designs it own system, but will use the human resources of others – low cost countries – when building them.

The advantage of such an initiative is that the system is still build tailored to the specific needs of the company, but at a lower cost. The advantage above buying a standard system is that the competitive advantage can be increased. If all companies use the same kind of system, how can they differentiate from each other?

Disadvantages are that the interactions with a third party are very hard to manage. First of all there is a significant learning curve. Normal communication within a company is challenging, communication with an unknown party, with another cultural background is a challenge of an other dimension. This communication problem can be solved by investing in documentation (specification of the requirements) but this is just one of these things that are boring and tiring and… expensive. So the effect of using low cost resources is relative. So you should never do this for a one-time occasion only. Therefore the learning costs are too high.

If you want to go this direction, it should be a strategic choice and not something you want to try for only once. You are best served with a strategic partnership.

© 2006 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account

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