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The Ultimate Guide to Talent Management [Strategy + Best Practices]



The Ultimate Guide to Talent Management [Strategy + Best Practices]

Ever wonder what sets successful businesses apart from those organizations that struggle year after year?

The product or service, pricing, industry, market share, and a thousand other factors can impact business success. However, there is one area that if they don’t get right, they’ll never flourish as an organization.

Hiring and retaining quality employees.

You may believe that your customers are the most important aspect of your business, but who is serving your customers? Without a top-notch staff, your product won’t make it to market, and you won’t have any customers to serve.


With high turnover rates across industries, employers are scrambling to understand what attracts top talent, cultivates loyalty and engagement among employees, and encourages them to stick around for the long haul. If your team is experiencing dissatisfaction, low engagement and productivity, and a revolving door in your HR department, you’re probably wondering this as well.

The good news is implementing a talent management program can help businesses of all sizes and employee engagement levels find a sense of balance.

What is talent management?

Put yourself in your employee’s shoes for a moment. What is your employee experience like? What attracted you to the company in the first place? Was there something they could’ve done that would’ve made you even more eager to work there?

Now think about the onboarding process. Were you provided with the training and support you needed to succeed in your role? Are you appreciated for your unique skills and compensated appropriately? Do you believe there are adequate growth opportunities? How about the workplace culture? Do you feel comfortable voicing opinions and new ideas?

All of these questions factor into your employee’s experience and whether or not they remain engaged in their roles, or become disconnected, disheartened, and dissatisfied with their job. When this happens, they aren’t exhibiting the productivity you’re looking for, and it won’t be long before they’re planning an exit strategy.


Talent management falls into three distinct categories:

  1. HR processes that work together to create the best possible employee experience. We’ll discuss this more in the next section.
  2. Attracting, Developing, Motivating, and Retaining top talent for your organization.
  3. Developing High-Performing Employees

“The purpose of your talent management strategy is to attract, motivate and retain your employees,” says Rameez Kaleem, Founder, and Director of 3R Strategy.

“No one factor, such as pay or perks, will enable you to do this. You need to consider your overall strategy to create an environment where employees can thrive and feel empowered to achieve excellence. This includes your approach to pay, benefits, creating a positive work environment, and providing people with personal and professional growth opportunities.”

As a business owner, manager, or HR professional, it’s your job to provide the best possible conditions for your employees so when outside opportunities knock, they can’t help but say “no thank you, I’m happy here.”

talent management: elements needed to retain your employees

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How does talent management fit under the HR umbrella?

While talent management can fall under the responsibilities of a manager or senior leader, depending on the structure of your organization, it may be carried out (at least in part) by your Human Resources department.



Human Resources is responsible for instituting workplace policies, handling interpersonal issues, and administering payroll. However, many businesses, also have a hand in the hiring process, training, mentoring, and creating the employee experience. Your HR department may shoulder the responsibility of employee engagement, performance, and company culture.

Because of this, it is essential that your HR department is considered a part of the talent management team.

Talent Management Strategy

Hopefully, you approach every aspect of your business, from marketing to sales to production to delivery and follow-up (and everything in between), with a strategy. Talent management is no different. In order to create the most positive experience for your employees, you’ll want to approach talent management with a strategic plan designed to efficiently reach your goals.

There are five steps you’ll want to work through in order to do this.

1. Identify the goals and the metrics you’ll use to measure your progress.

What do you hope to see from your Talent Management program? Are you looking to attract a higher caliber of employees? Are you experiencing extremely high turnover and looking to hang on to your top talent? Identify the talent management metrics that will allow you to track your progress and determine if you’ve reached your goal.

2. Select one or two areas to focus on (at first) before taking on a massive overhaul.

While it would be amazing to improve every aspect of your employee experience overnight, these things take time. Once you’ve determined your goals in Step 1, you’ll have a clearer picture of which area of Talent Management to tackle first. Once you’ve gotten that area optimized, you can move to the next.


3. Consider what sets you apart from the competition.

You’re used to competing for customers, but have you ever considered that you’re competing for talent as well? Just like your customers, your employees (or potential employees) have other options as well. They want to find the best fit and compensation for their skills, and you can bet they’ll be doing their homework.

Know what sets you apart from others and what makes you special. Do you offer special perks for employees? Does your culture make your employees proud to be there? Does your contribution to the community excite potential and existing team members?

Know what makes you different and don’t be afraid to communicate it to potential employees.

4. Identify the specific skills needed to grow and prosper.

Do you already have someone on your staff that can take on this responsibility? Perhaps you’ve got an HR business partner who can take the reins on a talent development program. Or perhaps, a talent manager is the first position you need to fill. Having a person dedicated to this program can help you get the most out of your existing employees, and guide the decision-making process on new hires.

5. Identify and analyze the key performance indicators.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Get specific with the key performance indicators you’ll use to determine your success in this endeavor. Pay close attention to these numbers and if they aren’t heading in the right direction, it may be time to revisit your strategy and switch gears.

The better your strategy, the better your execution. Don’t be afraid to take some time to plan before you dive in.


Talent Management Process

Now that you understand the strategy behind talent management, how do you incorporate it into your own organization? The talent management process consists of six steps:

1. Identify your needs.

If your sink was leaking, you wouldn’t hire an electrician. Before you start posting job openings, determine what roles you need to fill and what skills are required to complete these responsibilities. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be better positioned to create the job description and post the opening.

2. Attract the right talent.

Remember you have a treasure trove of talent at your fingertips. If you have the opportunity to promote from within your company, you’ll do much more than save time on onboarding. You’ll also raise employee morale as your team now sees room for advancement within the company. If you don’t have anyone suitable, then you can look outside of the organization for a new hire.

3. Select the right talent.

This differs from company to company. You may begin with creating a shortlist of resumes, require a test to be taken, hold individual or team interviews, and ultimately leave it to the department manager or HR to make the decision. No matter how you go about it, make sure that you refer back to Step 1 and hire based on your needs.

4. Develop your employees.

This can include onboarding new employees as well as providing ongoing training for your existing employees. When you help an individual become the best employee possible.

5. Retain your employees.

You’ve worked hard to attract the best talent. Now, how do you ensure that they stay with you? Employee retention strategies can include increased pay, extra benefits or perks, rewards or gifts, promotions, etc.


6. Have an offboarding process in place.

No employee will last forever (we’ll discuss that in more detail below), but what do you do when an employee leaves? Get an understanding of what responsibilities they handle and look for a replacement based on your findings.

If the employee provided a great deal of value to the organization, ask them to train their successor so he or she is up and running before your existing employee leaves. You may also want to include an Exit Interview. You can discover a great deal of knowledge about the employee experience when you ask someone on his or her way out.

This talent management process will look a little different depending on your industry and your business model, however, this should give you a good understanding and a solid jumping-off point.

Talent Management Best Practices

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. There are a variety of talent management best practices that you can follow in order to be more successful. Some of these are:

  1. Have a strong employer brand. Candidates have choices when it comes to where they want to work. If you want to attract the best possible candidates, develop a strong brand as an employer.
  2. Have a good reputation. Of course, there are always things beyond our control, however, how the world views you is strongly based on how you show up as a company. Do what you say you’ll do and do it well.
  3. Encourage employee referrals. Good people know good people. Ask your existing employees to recommend job seekers they know and trust. Offer them incentives for their help and keep them apprised of how the process is going.
  4. Onboard and inboard properly. It’s a truly horrible feeling to join a company (or be promoted to a new role) and not be set up to succeed. Provide the training necessary for them to be their best selves in the new role.
  5. Provide ongoing training. Yes, they may know how to do their current job, but what are you doing to prepare them for their next role? Most employees want to progress up the career ladder and if you don’t give them the encouragement and opportunity to do this within your organization, they’ll surely go outside it.
  6. Create a talent pipeline. Eventually, every person will leave their role. This may be due to promotion, retirement, opportunities outside of the organization, etc. Prepare for this by identifying star performers and grooming them for promotion. When the time comes that a role is vacated, you’ll have someone waiting in the wings to step in.
  7. Provide performance feedback. No one likes to wonder if they’re hitting their marks and living up to their manager’s expectations. Provide regular feedback and opportunity for improvement so your employees are never in the dark about their present or future.

Your employees are truly the most important aspect of your business and without quality team members, you won’t be able to reach your goals. Implementing a talent management program in your business can help you position your organization as a sought-after employer and motivate employees to stay loyal to your organization.

Don’t be afraid to invest in your people. It will be the best investment you ever make.

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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail



Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

Air Canada tried to throw its chatbot under the AI bus.

It didn’t work.

A Canadian court recently ruled Air Canada must compensate a customer who bought a full-price ticket after receiving inaccurate information from the airline’s chatbot.

Air Canada had argued its chatbot made up the answer, so it shouldn’t be liable. As Pepper Brooks from the movie Dodgeball might say, “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ’em.” 

But what does that chatbot mistake mean for you as your brands add these conversational tools to their websites? What does it mean for the future of search and the impact on you when consumers use tools like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT to research your brand?


AI disrupts Air Canada

AI seems like the only topic of conversation these days. Clients expect their agencies to use it as long as they accompany that use with a big discount on their services. “It’s so easy,” they say. “You must be so happy.”

Boards at startup companies pressure their management teams about it. “Where are we on an AI strategy,” they ask. “It’s so easy. Everybody is doing it.” Even Hollywood artists are hedging their bets by looking at the newest generative AI developments and saying, “Hmmm … Do we really want to invest more in humans?  

Let’s all take a breath. Humans are not going anywhere. Let me be super clear, “AI is NOT a strategy. It’s an innovation looking for a strategy.” Last week’s Air Canada decision may be the first real-world distinction of that.

The story starts with a man asking Air Canada’s chatbot if he could get a retroactive refund for a bereavement fare as long as he provided the proper paperwork. The chatbot encouraged him to book his flight to his grandmother’s funeral and then request a refund for the difference between the full-price and bereavement fair within 90 days. The passenger did what the chatbot suggested.


Air Canada refused to give a refund, citing its policy that explicitly states it will not provide refunds for travel after the flight is booked.

When the passenger sued, Air Canada’s refusal to pay got more interesting. It argued it should not be responsible because the chatbot was a “separate legal entity” and, therefore, Air Canada shouldn’t be responsible for its actions.

I remember a similar defense in childhood: “I’m not responsible. My friends made me do it.” To which my mom would respond, “Well, if they told you to jump off a bridge, would you?”

My favorite part of the case was when a member of the tribunal said what my mom would have said, “Air Canada does not explain why it believes …. why its webpage titled ‘bereavement travel’ was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot.”

The BIG mistake in human thinking about AI

That is the interesting thing as you deal with this AI challenge of the moment. Companies mistake AI as a strategy to deploy rather than an innovation to a strategy that should be deployed. AI is not the answer for your content strategy. AI is simply a way to help an existing strategy be better.

Generative AI is only as good as the content — the data and the training — fed to it.  Generative AI is a fantastic recognizer of patterns and understanding of the probable next word choice. But it’s not doing any critical thinking. It cannot discern what is real and what is fiction.


Think for a moment about your website as a learning model, a brain of sorts. How well could it accurately answer questions about the current state of your company? Think about all the help documents, manuals, and educational and training content. If you put all of that — and only that — into an artificial brain, only then could you trust the answers.

Your chatbot likely would deliver some great results and some bad answers. Air Canada’s case involved a minuscule challenge. But imagine when it’s not a small mistake. And what about the impact of unintended content? Imagine if the AI tool picked up that stray folder in your customer help repository — the one with all the snarky answers and idiotic responses? Or what if it finds the archive that details everything wrong with your product or safety? AI might not know you don’t want it to use that content.

ChatGPT, Gemini, and others present brand challenges, too

Publicly available generative AI solutions may create the biggest challenges.

I tested the problematic potential. I asked ChatGPT to give me the pricing for two of the best-known CRM systems. (I’ll let you guess which two.) I asked it to compare the pricing and features of the two similar packages and tell me which one might be more appropriate.

First, it told me it couldn’t provide pricing for either of them but included the pricing page for each in a footnote. I pressed the citation and asked it to compare the two named packages. For one of them, it proceeded to give me a price 30% too high, failing to note it was now discounted. And it still couldn’t provide the price for the other, saying the company did not disclose pricing but again footnoted the pricing page where the cost is clearly shown.

In another test, I asked ChatGPT, “What’s so great about the digital asset management (DAM) solution from [name of tech company]?” I know this company doesn’t offer a DAM system, but ChatGPT didn’t.


It returned with an answer explaining this company’s DAM solution was a wonderful, single source of truth for digital assets and a great system. It didn’t tell me it paraphrased the answer from content on the company’s webpage that highlighted its ability to integrate into a third-party provider’s DAM system.

Now, these differences are small. I get it. I also should be clear that I got good answers for some of my harder questions in my brief testing. But that’s what’s so insidious. If users expected answers that were always a little wrong, they would check their veracity. But when the answers seem right and impressive, even though they are completely wrong or unintentionally accurate, users trust the whole system.

That’s the lesson from Air Canada and the subsequent challenges coming down the road.

AI is a tool, not a strategy

Remember, AI is not your content strategy. You still need to audit it. Just as you’ve done for over 20 years, you must ensure the entirety of your digital properties reflect the current values, integrity, accuracy, and trust you want to instill.

AI will not do this for you. It cannot know the value of those things unless you give it the value of those things. Think of AI as a way to innovate your human-centered content strategy. It can express your human story in different and possibly faster ways to all your stakeholders.

But only you can know if it’s your story. You have to create it, value it, and manage it, and then perhaps AI can help you tell it well. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand



Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

While many brands talk about focusing on the customer, few do it. Less than a quarter (24%) of global brands are mapping customer behavior and sentiment, according to Braze’s 2024 Customer Engagement Review. What’s worse, only 6% apply customer insights to their product and brand approach.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies operate based on their structure and not how the consumer interacts with them,” Mariam Asmar, VP of strategic consulting, told MarTech. “And while some companies have done a great job of reorienting that, with roles like the chief customer officer, there are many more that still don’t. Cross-channel doesn’t exist because there are still all these silos. But the customer doesn’t care about your silos. The customer doesn’t see silos. They see a brand.”

Half of all marketers report either depending on multiple, siloed point solutions to cobble together a multi-channel experience manually (33%); or primarily relying on single-channel solutions (17%).  Only 30% have access to a single customer engagement platform capable of creating personalized, seamless experiences across channels. This is a huge problem when it comes to cross-channel, personalization.

The persistence of silos

The persistence of data silos despite decades of explanation about the problems they cause, surprised Asmar the most.

Screenshot 2024 02 27 140015
Source: Braze 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review

“Why are we still talking about this?” she said to MarTech. “One of the themes I see in the report is we’re still getting caught up on some of the same stumbling blocks as before.”

She said silos are indicative of teams working on different goals and “the only way that gets unsolved is if a leader comes in and aligns people towards some of those goals.”

These silos also hinder the use of AI, something 99% of respondents said they were already doing. The top uses of AI by marketers are:

  • Generating creative ideas (48%).
  • Automating repetitive tasks (47%).
  • Optimizing strategies in real-time (47%).
  • Enhancing data analysis (47%).
  • Powering predictive analytics (45%).
  • Personalizing campaigns (44%). 

Despite the high usage numbers, less than half of marketers have any interest in exploring AI’s potential to enhance customer engagement. Asmar believes there are two main reasons for this. First is that many people like the systems they know and understand. The other reason is a lack of training on the part of companies.

Dig deeper: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today

“I think about when I was in advertising and everybody switched to social media,” she told MarTech. “Companies acted like ‘Well, all the marketers will just figure out social media.’ You can’t do that because whenever you’re teaching somebody how to do something new there’s always a level of training them up, even though they’re apps that we use every day, as people using them as a business and how they apply, how we get impact from them.”

The good news is that brands are setting the stage for the data agility they need.

  • 50% export performance feedback to business intelligence platforms to generate advanced analytics.
  • 48% sync performance with insights generated by other platforms in the business.

Also worth noting: Marketers say these are the four main obstacles to creativity and strategy:  

  • Emphasis on KPIs inherently inhibits a focus on creativity (42%).
  • Too much time spent on business-as-usual execution and tasks (42%).
  • Lack of technology to execute creative ideas, (41%).
  • Hard to demonstrate ROI impact of creativity (40%).
Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952


The 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review (registration required) is based on insights from 1,900 VP+ marketing decision-makers across 14 countries in three global regions: The Americas (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), APAC (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea), and EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UAE, and the UK).


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Crafting Effortless Sales Through ‘Wow’ Moments in Experience Marketing



Crafting Effortless Sales Through 'Wow' Moments in Experience Marketing

Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

In an era where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and digital noise, standing out as a brand is more challenging than ever. Enter experience marketing – a strategy that transcends traditional advertising by focusing on creating immersive, memorable interactions. This innovative approach leverages the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity to forge strong emotional connections with customers, making the sale of your core product feel effortless. But how can businesses implement this strategy effectively? This guide delves into the art of crafting ‘wow’ moments that captivate audiences and transform customer engagement.

The Basics of Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is an evolved form of marketing that focuses on creating meaningful interactions with customers, aiming to elicit strong emotional responses that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. Unlike conventional marketing, which often prioritizes product promotion, experience marketing centers on the customer’s holistic journey with the brand, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level.

In today’s competitive market, experience marketing is not just beneficial; it’s essential. It differentiates your brand in a crowded marketplace, elevating your offerings beyond mere commodities to become integral parts of your customers’ lives. Through memorable experiences, you not only attract attention but also foster a community of loyal customers who are more likely to return and recommend your brand to others.

Principles of Experience Marketing

At the heart of experience marketing lie several key principles:

  • Emotional Connection: Crafting campaigns that touch on human emotions, from joy to surprise, creating memorable moments that customers are eager to share.
  • Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer’s needs and desires at the forefront of every marketing strategy, ensuring that each interaction adds value and enhances their experience with the brand.
  • Immersive Experiences: Utilizing technology and storytelling to create immersive experiences that captivate customers, making your brand a living part of their world.
  • Engagement Across Touchpoints: Ensuring consistent, engaging experiences across all customer touchpoints, from digital platforms to physical stores.

Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the intricacies of crafting ‘wow’ moments, it’s crucial to understand who you’re creating these moments for. Identifying your audience’s pain points and desires is the first step in tailoring experiences that truly resonate.

1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing1709033181 544 Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

This involves deep market research, customer interviews, and leveraging data analytics to paint a comprehensive picture of your target demographic. By understanding the journey your customers are on, you can design touchpoints that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Identifying Pain Points and Desires: Use surveys, social media listening, and customer feedback to gather insights. What frustrates your customers about your industry? What do they wish for more than anything else? These insights will guide your efforts to create experiences that truly resonate.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Visualize every step a customer takes from discovering your brand to making a purchase and beyond. This map will highlight critical touchpoints where you can introduce ‘wow’ moments that transform the customer experience.

Developing Your Experience Marketing Strategy

With a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to build the framework of your experience marketing strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying key customer touchpoints, and conceptualizing the experiences you want to create.

  • Setting Objectives: Define what you aim to achieve with your experience marketing efforts. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or improving customer retention, having clear goals will shape your approach and help measure success.
  • Strategic Touchpoint Identification: List all the potential touchpoints where customers interact with your brand, from social media to in-store experiences. Consider every stage of the customer journey and look for opportunities to enhance these interactions.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Surprise, Delight, and Reciprocity

This section is where the magic happens. By integrating the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity, you can elevate ordinary customer interactions into unforgettable experiences.

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  • Incorporating Surprise and Delight: Go beyond what’s expected. This could be as simple as a personalized thank-you note with each purchase or as elaborate as a surprise gift for loyal customers. The key is to create moments that feel special and unexpected.
  • Applying the Principle of Reciprocity: When customers receive something of value, they’re naturally inclined to give something back. This can be leveraged by offering helpful resources, exceptional service, or customer appreciation events. Such gestures encourage loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Examples and Case Studies: Highlight real-world examples of brands that have successfully implemented these strategies. Analyze what they did, why it worked, and how it impacted their relationship with customers.

Best Practices for Experience Marketing

To ensure your experience marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to adhere to some best practices.

  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage data and technology to personalize experiences without losing efficiency. Tailored experiences make customers feel valued and understood.
  • Using Technology to Enhance Experiences: From augmented reality (AR) to mobile apps, technology offers myriad ways to create immersive experiences that surprise and engage customers.
  • Measuring Success: Utilize analytics tools to track the success of your experience marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) could include engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Section 5: Overcoming Common Challenges

Even the best-laid plans can encounter obstacles. This section addresses common challenges in experience marketing and how to overcome them.

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  • Budget Constraints: Learn how to create impactful experiences without breaking the bank. It’s about creativity, not just expenditure.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Ensuring a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints can be daunting. Develop a comprehensive brand guideline and train your team accordingly.
  • Staying Ahead of Trends: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in experience marketing and be ready to adapt your strategy as necessary.

The Path to Effortless Sales

By creating memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, you make the path to purchase not just easy but natural. When customers feel connected to your brand, appreciated, and valued, making a sale becomes a byproduct of your relationship with them. Experience marketing, when done right, transforms transactions into interactions, customers into advocates, and products into passions.

Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy. Are you just selling a product, or are you providing an unforgettable experience? Dive into the world of experience marketing and start creating those ‘wow’ moments that will not only distinguish your brand but also make sales feel effortless.

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