Grow Your Business! 10 Winning Strategies for the New Decade

By Patrick McClure

Congratulations, and welcome to the New Decade.

Today we start writing the history of YOUR business in the 2020’s. What will it include? Will we see spectacular growth, stellar revenue production and champagne toasts? Or will your decade be filled with lost business deals, declining revenue and sour grapes? The outcome is up to you, and now is the time to plan for your future.

Much of the future is uncertain, of course, but one thing we know for certain. Every one of us just got a year older! And every one of our customers and prospects got a year older. Time marched on for all of us, and this means we need to recalibrate, refocus, and refine our plans. What worked in the 2010’s will need to change to match the 2020’s. And if we don’t change, we risk getting run over by the onrush of technology, ideas, and youth.

In this spirit, we’ve put together this article to help prepare you for the future decade. After considerable research (both past and future), consultation with our focus groups (including millennials and Gen-Z), and getting feedback from industry peers, we are now prepared to put together the following list of the TOP 10 WINNING STRATEGIES FOR THE NEW DECADE.

Here they are:

1. Correct Target Market & Cohort

There are 4 major cohorts in today’s Marketplace, and it’s vital that you understand these generations and the changing buying patterns they bring. Here’s a quick snapshot of the essential features:

You can’t sell anything unless you understand your target market and who is doing their buying. This means understanding the environment they grew up in, the events that shaped their lives, their age, what they’re challenged by, and what’s important to them.
It’s also important to document the buying process at your key prospects. Oftentimes, you will find the actual buyer is a Baby Boomer or a Gen X, but the influencers are really Millennials or Gen Z. Typically, the busy executive will have “someone on their staff” research new products or directions and bring back a short list of what they found. If you are not influencing these younger influencers, you might never make the short list!

2. Unique Value Proposition

We don’t sell products anymore, and we don’t really sell benefits. The world has gone way beyond product details (unless you’re selling highly technical products). Buyers today are constantly asking “What’s in it for me,” or what will it do for my business and my bottom line. This means we need to shift our focus to the Unique Value of our product or service.
If there’s nothing unique about our product, we need to go back to the drawing boards and figure out WHY people are buying from us. Sometimes, the best way to understand your unique value proposition is to ask your buyers.

The key is to understand your UVP, and then BRAND your product with it. And for heaven’s sake make sure that you solve an actual problem for your customers. Don’t make the mistake of creating a “me too” product that doesn’t really solve a problem!

3. Marketing across Generations

If you understand the generations, you’ll appreciate something called “screen size.” Baby Boomers grew up with the television, and some of them were there when color screens were first introduced. They viewed the world through the lens of a television screen, and they received news on 3 major channels only.

Generation X (age 38-54) grew up with television, but increasingly their attention shifted to computer screens. First the desktop with an attached screen of varying sizes, then in later parts of the cohort this transitioned into laptop devices. The screen became smaller, and cable TV was introduced which expanded the number of channels.

Millennials (age 25-39) grew up with laptops and tablets, but their screen now included cell phones which now included email, texting, and web access as well as making phone calls. The screen size was now even smaller. And the next cohort, the sons and daughters of millennials (age 12-25) can seamlessly split their time across all 5 screens but are mostly focused on their cell phones. Indeed, 46% of their waking hours are spent peering at their cell phone screen, which is now leading to multiple medical problems and cell phone addiction (nomophobia).

If important for marketeers to understand their target market and concentrate their efforts on the best screen for their market. If you’re selling to Gen-Z, then you wouldn’t spend your marketing dollars on printed brochures or email campaigns! Conversely if your target market is baby boomers, you wouldn’t feature google ads or gaming consoles. You must match your marketing dollars to the correct screen!

4. Selling in the “New Normal”

Sales today occur at light speed. Buyers are demanding short, concise, value-based branding and gives them an instant WIFM (what’s in it for me). Everything today has accelerated, and you don’t have time for complicated messages. Keep it direct, simple, relevant, and compelling and don’t waste your buyers time!

5. Replace Cold Calling with Warm Calling

The years of cold calling or cold visits are pretty much over. In fact, one of my associates has written a best seller entitled “Never Cold Call Again,” (Frank Rumbauskas) in which he argues that cold calling is not only ineffective, but it damages credibility and drives away potential customers! My advice is simple: if you’re going to be using the phone for sales, make sure you are making “warm calls.” Research your prospects in advance, know their names and their company, and figure out a way to make the call valuable and not a waste of time. Pre-stage your calls by sending a text in advance (if you know their cell phone #), research them on LinkedIn, and try to get a warm referral from an associate or networking partner.

6. Deliver what they REALLY want at light speed

Speed of delivery is incredibly important. Customers are used to near-instantaneous results. They can order product and have it on their doorstep the next day (Amazon Prime), they can purchase and download movies and play them NOW, they can have groceries and products delivered by Wal-Mart or Target within minutes. They are used to near-immediate gratification and simple interfaces. If you have delays in your order fulfillment process, your customers will not tolerate it. Fix it!

7. Use Free as a Strategy

I can remember marketing a Presentation Skills training course for a bargain rate of $499 for an entire day of training. It was a killer price and always sold out in the past! But after renting a hotel room and filling it with 3 attendees (OUCH) I did my research and discovered that one of my competitors was offering a one-day class that same day in that same town for FREE!

The new selling strategy has evolved. Savvy marketeers are now enticing customers to try it out for free or nearly free, and then making their margins on upselling the next step. For instance, SalesForce.Com (the dominant CRM vendor) will happily give away a version of their CRM software to individual users. You can download it for free and use it if you like, and it works just fine. However, when you expand and want to add users or implement more advanced features of the software, you must upgrade (for a hefty fee).

On the retail side, visit Costco and cruise their aisles, and you can try dozens of samples. Of course, this drives huge incremental sales. Ergo Free as a strategy can really work!

8. Replace Selling with Influencing

Millennials and Gen-Z do not like the term “selling.” No one likes to be sold anything, but we all like to buy. The modern sales model uses a lot of “influencers” to generate brand awareness and buzz. Many influencers have hundreds and thousands of followers, and when they endorse a product (via Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or shapchat) it can lead to massive sales and profits.

One of the biggest influencers in social media today are performers. For instance, pop singer Selena Gomez (age 27 net worth $75MM) has 123 MILLION followers on Instagram! BTW, the last we checked her fee for simply mentioning your product in a post (implied endorsement) was over $1 MM.

Of course, you may not be able to afford a superstar endorsement, but your sales planning needs to include a strategy to attract influencers and get their support for your product/service.

9. Take advantage of Technology

Of course, make sure you’re taking full advantage of any technology at your disposal. Depending on your target market, divide your sales & marketing budget accordingly. There are huge benefits to be tapped into with social media, web design, social media marketing, gaming, virtual reality, and online advertising.

10. Hire a Gen-Z or Gen-Y

In order to fully implement technology, my best advice is to hire a Gen-Y (Millennial) or a Gen-Z for your marketing department. First job is to have them review your marketing plan for 2020 and tell you what’s wrong with it! They will not back off from their honest opinions, and they’ll probably give you some great advice.

You might have to bite your tongue and learn to tolerate a younger brash employee who expresses their opinion freely with no filter, but it will be worth it. Especially if you want to connect with a younger target market, it pays you to listen well.

So, there you are! 10 quick strategies for survival in the new decade. Good luck and let me know your success with these tips!

Permission is needed from Patrick McClure and Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Patrick McClure is a senior sales consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC as well as speaker, trainer and author who enjoys working with individuals and corporations to help them achieve maximum performance. He has dedicated his practice to helping others become more successful and specializes in sales training. To learn more and receive Patrick’s free newsletter, please email Patrick at Or call him at 310-453-6556, ext 415.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to

Millennials: How to Attract, Retain and Manage

By Bhavna Chadalavada

Much has been said and written about millennials (generally referred to by researchers as having birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), but little of it has come from within our generation itself. The reality about us is that we want what the business community at large wants and needs, but we are pushing for it harder and faster than some are comfortable with. It’s causing us to leave jobs, shuffle positions frequently, befuddle our superiors, generally cause angst, and in some cases accelerate desired culture shifts.

Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, put it aptly when he said “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits. These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community.” And, the wake-up call is coming quickly: by the end of 2015, millennials are expected to overtake baby boomers in the workforce as more and more boomers reach retirement age.

We are a generation that has embraced and fueled rapid technological advancement and creative innovation that has changed the scope of multiple facets of the world today: from medicine and healthcare, to poverty, water and hunger, to social connection, dating, food and music. So, what are the tricks to attract, retain, and manage the best among us? Read ahead to find out.


We love free lunch, but we know that culture goes beyond that. The following 3 elements are critical to attracting us.

(1) Purpose, mission, meaning

77% of millennials state that their “ability to excel in their job is contingent upon deriving meaning from their work”. We want our employers to have a purpose and mission for their business (for 6 in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers), and we want to connect to it in order to feel enlivened and energized by the work we are doing.
In all honesty though, who wants a grinding, robotic 9-5 culture? Employers and the former generation seem to have grown used to it, and have tolerated it either because they see no other way, or because they see another way and don’t know how to get there.

Millennials are built to get there: we are here to change things and make sure those changes stick. “Big Four” Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is planning for a workforce of nearly 80% millennials in 2016. It might take other organizations a few more years, but millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by the year 2025.

(2) Quality of leadership

According to a Deloitte study, today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).
Who we are working under is a big reason we would want to be associated with a given company. The opportunity to observe a strategic-thinking, inspirational, personable, and visionary leader from close quarters is in many cases enough to hook us in.

(3) Opportunity for learning and development

business team meeting-large by Eric Bailey, Pexel

By Eric Bailey

Maneuverability (ability to shift area of work within a given company, along with potential for growth of responsibility in a role) & development initiatives for employees (beyond your standard Training program) are critical. To illustrate this point, if we are given a choice of:

A) Less pay at a company that:

• Has opportunities for learning and development within a given role.
• Offers us the ability to shadow and learn about other roles and potentially eventually make an internal transition.

B) A higher-paying position at a company with:

• Perks (free lunch) & Incentives (cash-bonuses).
• A boxed-in position with little opportunity for development.

We are choosing option A (unless, for unfortunate economic reasons – like student loans – we have to take B).


Inherently, we are built to make businesses successful and last – but getting caught up in short term ROI and losing sight of us as people is a sure way to isolate and push us away. We care about the success of the business, but we also see how that goes hand in hand with unleashing the best in an organization’s people.

If we are treated like a number, we will go ahead and treat our employers like a number right back. We’ll stop coming in early and leaving late, and we’ll do the job just well enough to stay hired – until we find something better and jump ship. Most of us are already cultivating our side hobbies and projects, so if you give us reason enough, we will dedicate more and more of our time and energy into that. We’ll clock in and clock out until one day we drop the job and leave, just like our employers fear.

It may sound self-serving, but it is a protective mechanism that ultimately allows not only us but also our employers to thrive: by hiring and retaining the right people while creating and maintaining a culture of purpose. A culture of purpose is proven by multiple sources by now to outperform financially – this is no longer a debate.

If companies have a mission and purpose that is adhered to, provide resources and programs for training and development, and their people and leaders are indicative of the culture and mission they seek to promote – they’ve got us locked in. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.

But if not, we’re going to eventually leave and have our employers scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. What went wrong is that expectations out of workplaces have changed, and we need more than your typical scene from The Office – which unfortunately (and comically) is still tolerated by many organizations.

The facts and figures support this:

• According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials rated training and development as the most highly valued employee benefit. In fact, training and development outranked cash bonuses by a whopping 300%.
• 78% of millennials surveyed by MTV said “even if I have a job it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career.”
• Unlike previous generations that sought out career destinations, millennials are job hoppers, expecting to stay in a job for less than three years. Job hopping can lead to greater fulfillment, which is vitally important to this generation.
• 88% percent of millennials considered “positive culture important or essential to their job” and said that if they don’t have it at their current employer, they will look elsewhere.


If our employers create the right culture and hire the right people, managing us becomes less work – which is what both sides want anyway.
In more granular terms, what we want day to day is:

1) Clear goals and projects.
2) Independence to work and create (high trust).
3) A collaborative environment (a whopping 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative work environment over a competitive one).
4) Check-ins fairly often where we are kept appraised of our performance by a forward-thinking and accessible manager (according to a survey by Millennial Branding and American Express, 53% of millennials said a mentorship relationship would help them become better and more productive workers).

When discussing career plans and progress, 96% of millennials want to talk face-to-face. We don’t want to be surprised with immediate repercussions or talked behind – we want to be told how we can improve. Being given less responsibility as a result of what we do not yet know does not motivate us, it deflates us.

success-479568_640 (Pixabay)

By Gerd Altmann

We were raised in an increasingly transparent world – to us, being a “straight shooter” is not a rarity. Being open and communicative is our way of life, and we consider it a sign of trust and investment that you’ll provide us with feedback rather than treat us like a dispensable cog in a machine. According to a University of North Carolina study, 88% of millennials said they would rather receive feedback in real time, not to mention frequent in-person check-ins on progress.

And, we’ll take it a step further too: we want to be able to have a dialogue about our company’s (or even just our team’s) growth and performance. Just because we are less experienced and less grey-haired, we don’t think that should stop us from being able to contribute to decisions being made. Our employers have our buy-in (millennials have no shame in allowing their professional and social worlds to collide, with 70% having “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook), so shouldn’t the trust extend both ways?

As a millennial who has worked on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley for an old-guard global Tech corporation, in start-ups, and for consulting firms – these insights remain true across the board. Some companies have caught on, and some have not, but the future lies here. And, the most innovative and successful companies out there are now utilizing this knowledge full-scale – it is no longer a question of if it is worth the initial investment to do so. It ends up costing more in turnover and poor performance not to!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Bhavna Chadalavada writes and speaks on Millennials in Corporate America, and serves as a consultant and thought partner for established Leadership coaches. She is connected to the Conscious Capitalism movement, and has partnered with the Conscious Business Firm Axialent as well as Values-Based Leadership Consulting firm LRN. Earlier in her career she worked in Finance on Wall Street for UBS and in Tech Consulting in Silicon Valley for Oracle. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she also played D1 Basketball. For more information, you can contact Bhavna at

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit,

What You Said Is Not What I Heard: Generational Crosstalk & Why You Should Care

By Karen Arnold and Kevin Williams

John, age 25, text messages Jill, age 45 that he would like to make some changes to the proposal they just completed. Jill sits fuming at her desk thinking, “Who does John think he is sending me a text message to change the proposal? At least he could have had the decency to talkyes no talk to me face-to-face.” What is going on here? Generations pushing each other’s communication hot buttons. In the past – you, as a leader, may have paid little or no attention to the age span of employees working for you. With four generations in the workplace, circumstances have changed.

Some other dramatic changes we will experience are: 1) a globally aging population, 2) increased technology that will change our products and services and how we deliver them, 3) people extending their working careers, but not necessarily staying in their current positions, 4) a significant shortage of employees for the next 7-12 years. These factors add to the complexity of recruiting, retaining and motivating employees.

To better understand the communication disconnects that are occurring in your workplace it is important to recognize why each generation communicates as they do. To help facilitate this understanding, let us review each generation and what influenced them during their formative years.

Traditionalists — Born 1900 to 1945 – Traditionalists have worked longer than any of the other generations. They were influenced by the great depression, which instilled in most members of this generation the ability to live within limited means. They believe in saving for a rainy day and they also believe that you stay with an organization through person with flagthick and thin, and have extreme loyalty to those in leadership positions. Traditionalists are loyal, hardworking, financially conservative and faithful to institutions. This generation is most comfortable with face-to face communication. They are more formal in their communication style than the other three generations.

Quick tips to effectively communicate with Traditionalists – Appreciate information given to them in person. They are very motivated by clear direction given to them by their supervisor. They find emails to be an ineffective mode of communication in most instances. Leadership tips include:

• Acknowledge experience and expertise
• Provide them opportunities to mentor younger employees
• Discuss how their contributions affect the organization
• Focus on the personal touch

Baby Boomers — Born 1946 to 1964 – Influenced by the assassination of President Kennedy, Vietnam and the “Pill”, Baby Boomers have always felt compelled to change the system. Upon entering the work force, Boomers challenged the status quo. As a result, they are responsible for many of the rights and opportunities now taken for granted. peace signBecause of their large numbers, Boomers faced competition from each other for jobs. They all but invented the 60-hour workweek, figuring that long hours and hard work was one way to rise above the pack and get ahead. Their sense of who they are is deeply connected to their career achievements. They are now looking to change their careers and do something else as they move toward, what in the past has been traditional retirement age. Boomers prefer verbal over written communication; call them on the phone rather than sending an email.

Quick tips to effectively communicate with Boomers – While they are most comfortable with face-to-face communication, a phone call is usually preferable to an email. They spent much of their working life without today’s technology and still are most comfortable with face-to-face, phone calls and interoffice memos. They differ from the traditionalists in that they want to be part of the decision-making, not just given direction. Leadership tips include:

• Discuss how they’re making a difference
• Assign challenging projects
• Provide public recognition and perks for performance
• This is the “Sandwich Generation” and you need to support them with their diverse responsibilities

Generation X — Born 1965 to 1980 – Generation X’ers were influenced by divorce rates that tripled when they were children, both parents working and being the first latch key kids. They are technologically savvy, having ushered in the era of video games and personal computers during their formative years. Watching their parents being laid off after years of dedicated service instilled a sense of distrust of institutions. Because they do not expect employer loyalty, Gen X’er’s see no problem changing jobs to advance tv personprofessionally.

In contrast to the Baby Boomers’ overtime work ethic, generation X’ers believe that work is not the most important thing in their lives. They are resourceful and hardworking, but once 5 o’clock hits, they would rather pursue other interests. An X’er is very comfortable communicating with technology such as email and text messaging.
Quick tips to effectively communicate with Generation X – Are used to getting feedback quickly by communicating through emails and text messaging. They want timely communication and feedback and are equally comfortable providing the same to others. One of the common complaints we hear from Generation X’ers is they do not feel they are listened to in the workplace. Leadership tips include:

• Do not micromanage
• Give candid, timely feedback
• Encourage informal, open communication
• Use technology to communicate
• Provide learning opportunities and mentoring

Generation Y — Born 1981 to 1999 – Many in this generation are still in school, but the oldest Y’s are just now entering the work force. This generation has had access to cell phones, pagers and personal computers all their lives. They have also been influenced by watching natural disasters, riots and other tragedies occurring all over the world live and in color right from the comfort of their living room.stress person

Generation Y’s are eager to learn and enjoy questioning things. They are confident and have high self-esteem. They are collaborators and favor teamwork, having functioned in groups in school, organized sports and extracurricular activities from a very young age. They reject the notion that they have to stay within the rigid confines of a job description. Expect them to keep their career options open. Generation Y’s will think nothing of making career changes and/or building parallel careers. If you call them instead of emailing or text messaging them, you are wasting their time. These folks are excellent at multi-tasking, they are most comfortable answering an email while working on a spread sheet and listening to their IPOD.

Quick tips to effectively communicate with Generation Y – This generation has grown up with cell phones, text messaging, emails and live electronic chats. For this generation “My Space” is the modern day version of the community bulletin board or the local hang out (think of Mel’s in American Graffiti). The difference is they are talking to people across the world, not just people across the street. Generation Y’ers are most comfortable with communication they can conduct while taking on two or three other tasks simultaneously. Leadership tips include:

• Provide good supervision and structure
• Communicate clear objectives and expectations
• Emphasize their ability to make a difference
• Use technology to deliver information
• Assign work that is interesting, meaningful, and important
• Assist them with career planning

One-size-fits all communication and leadership is not effective given this new paradigm in the workplace. Both you as an employer and your employees need to understand and value the communication style of each generation. The quick tips provided will assist you effectively communicate and lead each generation.

When facilitating our “Power and Challenge of Four” workshops we are consistently impressed with the fact that most participants are moved by the influences that have shaped the other generations. We also find that participants are willing to modify their style to better meet the needs of others.

The most successful organizations find a way to let every generation be heard. They recognize that no one has all the answers. This appreciation of generational diversity allows each group to contribute and be a part of the growth of the organization. Once leadership understands this, it can help open up communication at all levels of the organization. As we said, this is the first time in American history we have had four generations in the workplace. While this presents challenges, it also presents opportunities to utilize a broad spectrum of skills, abilities, and experiences that can contribute to the overall success of an organization.

Karen Arnold and Kevin Williams, FutureDecisions® LLC, have recognized the need for dramatically different work practices to meet the unique challenges of today’s workplace. To contact Karen and Kevin, call 916-812-6033.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to