How To Focus Your Business To Grow Engagement

Author

Michela Tindera, Forbes Staff

June 11, 2015

Want to grow your business? These four industry leaders say they know how.

At the third annual Forbes Women’s Summit held at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at EY moderated a panel where Rosalind Brewer (president and CEO of Sam’s Club), Debra Lee (chairman and CEO of BET Network), Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin (co-founders of theSkimm) talked focus, growth and how they harness both of those priorities to engage with their customers and their audience.

“I took over as CEO ten years ago at BET Network and for the first time in my career people started asking me what my vision was,” Lee said. “I really had to think about it, and what I wanted my legacy to be.”

But to find that vision, it took the focus that each of the panelists discussed.

In the early stages of founding theSkimm, Carly Zakin said they ended calls by saying, “Focus, focus, focus.” They had to, “say goodbye to distracting shiny objects,” Zakin added. Their newsletter, which is written in a conversational, easy-to-digest format, has a 40 percent open rate, while the industry average is only at 12 percent.

Communicating your goals to your team and defining that narrow focus leads to the growth that an organization thrives on, Brewer explains.

“It gets the team to be maniacally focused on that one thing,” she said.

Lee also stressed the importance of communicating and engaging with those on her team. Setting goals and letting your executive team know what they are, is key. When she realized information wasn’t trickling down the way that it should, she noted how including other senior leadership in that communication achieved goals.

Externally, engaging with BET’s audience has led to the success of the network, Lee explained: “There’s an expectation from our audience that when something happens, we’re involved.”

For the co-creators of email-based newsletter, theSkimm, engaging with their audience starts first thing in the morning.

“They are waking up, grabbing their phones and starting their day,” Weisberg said of their core audience.

And at Sam’s Club, Brewer explained how her club managers get involved with small business owners in their local communities. “We lend services and there’s no price tag on that,” she said. “We’ll go to their offices and actually work with them to build business plans.”

Even with the success that each of these women has experienced, they still all noted a problem that plagues most professionals’ productivity — and detracts from achieving those important goals — answering email. “Sometimes it can take over your life,” Lee said. 

The panel concluded with a focus on inward reflection. Brooke-Marciniak asked each panelist, “What would you tell your 20-year-old self?”

Breathe, Zakin said. Have faith that it will work out, Weisberg added. “Don’t be in such a hurry to accomplish everything,” At 60 years old, Lee added: “For the first time in my life I’m really getting to know myself personally.” 

This article was written by Michela Tindera from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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