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Archive for the ‘Marketing Careers’ Category

Project Management: Communication is the lost currency of business

February 28th, 2014 2 comments

Communication is the lost currency of business.

When thorough and effective communication is not present in business, everything else seems a little off.

George Bernard Shaw said it best: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

I’m sure we have all run into situations where we thought something was taken care of, but the memo didn’t get through clearly, and then you became angry at Joe in Accounting for not compiling those numbers for the important meeting with the VP. The scenarios are endless and the consequences can be devastating, all from one communication mishap.

Here are a few tips that have improved the communication within my team that you can use to aid your own communication efforts.

 

Silos are for farms, not businesses

I see companies operate in silos much too often.

Departments only two feet away from each other have zero idea what the other team is working on.

Closed lines of communication are a missed opportunity for sharing transferable discoveries that can potentially achieve commingled goals.

For example, if your team is working on a project that you think could have discoveries or beneficial concepts that may apply to a different project elsewhere in your organization, you should try to share that information whenever possible.

A quick summary of your team’s projects distributed in a weekly update email or during a peer review session can help build good communication by spreading vital information companywide.

Ultimately, it takes a proactive effort to share information with other departments in order to help eliminate the poor communication that often results when groups work in a vacuum.

 

Optimize your meetings to avoid more meetings

I understand this isn’t a new concept, but we’ve all attended meetings that were pointless and a waste of valuable time. Too often, objectives aren’t set and leaders aren’t identified.

Here are a few ways I try cut down on the wasted meeting time:

  • Set an agenda, and send it out to participants. If you are running a conference call, make sure to send the agenda to attendees at least a day in advance for review to ensure you don’t miss anything.

The agenda should always include a spot for a meeting objective and room for you to include the attendees and their roles. Keep the meeting to the agenda so topics don’t get too off track, which leads to more wasted time.

  • Delegate a note taker. Probably the most crucial role in a meeting, this person helps to capture the most important points and action items and sends it as takeaways to all attendees for reference.

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Marketing Careers: 3 tips to help your networking efforts

December 10th, 2013 4 comments

Marketers invest a lot of time and energy to build strong customer relationships. Understandably, that leaves little time for personal brand building or networking.

But, let’s face it. With consumer trust remaining deeply connected to people you know personally, the need to build your personal brand and grow new opportunities through networking is more important than ever.

Here are three tips to help you approach networking and personal brand building. You can use these tips to get started, or to rethink your networking strategy.

 

Build a conscious digital footprint

Sure, there are plenty of people out there with a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile, but how are you using them to network?

Consider that a message resonating in 140 characters with your Twitter followers may not even come close to being relevant for an audience on Instagram, which focuses on images.

If you first understand how to communicate effectively in these individual platforms, then you’ve crossed a big barrier to growing and cultivating audiences among them.

Networking and personal brand building on social media starts with a conscious effort on your part to create a smart digital footprint around your personal brand that uses social media effectively.

 

Keep your friends close and your audience even closer

Reconnecting with old friends can be a great way to catch up on the times. You can also use the opportunity to evaluate how their skills can help your audience.

The big idea here is what I call recommendation reciprocity.

Part of building an audience around your personal brand means you have something of value to offer. What better way to do that than by recommending someone you know and trust who can help with their needs.

 

If you join a group, be helpful

Joining groups of people who have similar aspirations can open up new networks, but the trick here is to be helpful.

Groups can offer a wide range of expertise, but they also suffer from shortfalls in knowledge areas and hopefully, that’s where you come in.

Offering your expertise or recommending someone who can help will make a big difference in meeting your networking goals versus sitting on the sidelines and treating groups as pseudo news feeds.

With LinkedIn and Facebook offering huge online communities, and sites like Meetup offering both online and offline groups, there are plenty of choices to fit your lifestyle.  

 

Don’t be afraid to start a new group if you’re not finding groups out there that fit your needs. Starting a group and actively managing it is a great way to fast track into new circles, not just as a member, but as leading voice.

An additional tactic I recommend for being helpful in the social realm is using Q-and-A sites like Quora or Amazon’s Askville to answer questions posted by others who could benefit from your insights.

 

 

You get out what you put in

There is no magic bullet for building a personal brand or networking effectively.

It’s a lot of hard work and long hours. It takes consistency and dedication to reach your goals, but when has anything really worth doing ever been easy?

Feel free to share some of your personal branding or networking tips for success in the comments below.

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Marketing Careers: Why gut instincts are only artificial marketing brilliance

October 4th, 2013 1 comment

At some point in your marketing career, you’ve had a moment of artificial marketing brilliance.

It was a moment where you suspected your customers might respond better to a shorter form or a bigger and more colorful call-to-action button inviting them to a unique experience.

You might have even had the sneaking suspicion that changing some of the value copy on your homepage would boost sales of your product or service because no other competitor can boast figures close to your product’s success rate.

So, you make changes as your gut tells you, “Of course this will work.”

Afterwards, you kick back to watch the ROI roll in.

And then, it happens.

Your brilliant idea bombs in glorious fashion and you’re left scratching your head.

If your marketing is driven by intuition, at some point, you are going to fail and it’s one of the best things that can happen for your customers and your career. Read on to find out why.

 

Failure starts at relying on your gut

Many marketers use gut instinct in hopes of delivering optimal results, but when they fall short of expected results, those marketers never fully understand why.

But, if we use the hypothetical situation above, some clues emerge that can help us understand what leads to failure.

According to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Marketing Analytics Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link), when marketers were asked …

Q: Instead of analytics data to make marketing decisions, we rely on the following:

 

Nearly half (42%) responded with gut instincts, followed by historical spending trends.

So, with almost half of marketers proclaiming instinct and prior spending as their decision engines, let’s fill in the blanks with a few primary sources of inspiration:

  • Case studies performed by other companies
  • Best practices picked up along the way
  • Marketing research

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these resources because, let’s face it, it’s easier to borrow from a seemingly good idea than it is to create a new one from scratch.

The inherent problem is not where you get an idea. The problem is how you intend to use it.

This is the point at which many marketing campaigns were doomed to underperform because ideas untested are always at the mercy of uncertainty.

 

Life beyond using your gut

Your gut failed you … now what?

One of the best career moves you can make is to move away from gut instinct marketing and begin using an evidence-based approach that is methodical and systematic. Chances are, you’re going to have some questions after your first radical redesign where shorter landing pages resulted in a 10% decrease in clickthrough.

Did the larger hero image take away from the copy? Was the award for customer satisfaction from 2004 recent enough to provide credibility? What turned the audience away?

You’ll also have questions if your redesign brought you a 5% lift in clickthrough. You might even be pretty content and let things rest, even if you could do better.

Those strokes of “marketing brilliance” are coming from a different source – online testing results that can be used to build a customer knowledge base.

Did your customers like your new vivid red button? Did they respond well to reading you were the only company in your field to offer one-on-one tutorials with an expert?

If you changed the eye-path on the page, could you have achieved a 10% lift? 20%?

 

The inevitable question – Why?

You must realize that success and failure lead to an inevitable conclusion in marketing – you have to test to truly discover, “Why?”

You can try to isolate the factors that seemingly impacted your audience, or you can test them and measure their performance to know for sure.

Understanding the “why” of customer behavior is really the product of methodical trial and error through testing, discovering and optimizing what you think works …

And then, it’s time for more testing.

Both the small gains and big flops lead you to learning more about your customers, a path riddled with failure, success and discovery, that no gut instinct on the planet can come close to.

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Marketing Careers: Why marketers and media professionals must never lose their wild spark

August 16th, 2013 2 comments

There is an inherent paradox in the marketing and media industries.

We need creative people, yet we need corporate structure. Creative people need freedom to thrive and yet, we work tirelessly to bang square pegs into round holes until the hammer is busted, the peg becomes warped and the creative talent is defeated.

For instance, when I worked at an agency, and would get my ninth sub-order of redundant changes to a postcard, I used to joke about it this way …

 

We were wild mustangs once …

Free to roam across the Great Plains as the wind whipped through our hair. When lightning would strike in the distance, spooking the herd, it was up to us, the mighty stallions, to chase them down and lead them to safety.

In our corporate environment, it can feel as if our creative spark is only a shadow of its former self.

It has been reduced to the old bag of bones nag you see tied to a revolving wheel at the county fair for the kids to ride.

We trot round and round, day after day, staring at the tail of another old nag in front of us, while some snot-nosed kid pokes us with a stick saying, “Look, he likes to eat rocks. Watch. You can just shove them in his mouth!”

But even then, if you look deep enough in our eyes, it’s still there. That wild spark.

 

You must never let your team lose that wild spark

Now that I have the distinct privileges of running my own team of creatives, and interviewing  some of the most creative and effective minds in marketing, I look at our stable of talent  this way – it’s on us to make sure they never lose that wild spark.

If you’re working with a team of creatives, either at an agency or on the client side, here are a few suggestions I propose to challenge you to help keep your team’s creative spark alive and well.

 

1. Ask, “Who really, really, really needs to be in this meeting?”

The fastest way to kill your team’s creative output is with a stack of invites to meetings they don’t need attend. I try to keep my team out of as many meetings as possible.

Before I send out invites, I also ask myself “Do we really need all these people in this meeting?” or even better, “Heck, do we really need to have a meeting at all?”

If a meeting isn’t avoidable for your team, then try to sacrifice your own time to protect theirs. Take the meeting on the chin yourself, and then go back and fill your team in on the two minutes of relevant information that applied to them.

 

2. Stop carbon copying everybody

The only thing that screams “corporate” more than meetings is the mass-copied email, so I try to avoid sending them if possible.

 

3. Give them a chance to run with the wild herd

A great way I’ve discovered to do this is through industry awards.

I remember how rejuvenated I would feel winning ADDY awards. I also remember how I’d feel my creative juices sparked even more by watching my peers win as I thought, “that was pretty darn good!”

The creativity that was a linchpin to their success was often just what I needed to keep my spark alive and recommit to coming up with better work.

I’m on the other side of things now, judging awards. For example, we just launched MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014. There’s no entry fee, so there is no excuse not to tell your team to enter.

For example, the Best in Show winner from Email Awards 2013, NFL.com, had some really innovative features in its emails, like “Countdown to the Game” clocks and a “Who Will Win? Vote Today!” dynamically updated poll.

 

It’s creative ideas like these from marketers across a wide range of companies that continue to inspire me.

 

4. Measure and share results

I think there’s a false impression that creatives are art snobs who only care about aesthetic appeal.

We have, after all, decided to work in a corporate environment, even though it chafes. Let them see the fruit of their labor.

Earlier in my career, writing an ad that was successful in The Wall Street Journal for six months versus the previous ad that could only pull leads for two weeks was a huge morale booster.

Now, working more in the digital media space, I love receiving feedback through social media (I’m @DanielBurstein if you’d like to tell me what you think of this post) as well as A/B testing, even when the more creative ideas lose.

At the end of the day, we know results matter. After all, a man’s gotta eat.

I know when I’m judging the Email Awards, results will be at the top of my mind. I’m sure they are important to you as well as you manage your creative teams and agency relationships.

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Marketing Careers: 3 steps for using testing principles to improve office productivity

August 2nd, 2013 No comments

Here at MECLABS, we talk a lot about the testing process.

How to optimize and improve emails, landing pages, lead generation forms, shopping carts … all things Web. But, the testing process isn’t just a way to improve website performance. The general principles are transferrable to so much more.

One thing I’ve been particularly interested in recently is how to use testing to improve office and employee productivity.

Consider you’re a manager and have an employee who has been having problems meeting deadlines.

What do you do?

 

Step #1. Identify the problems with productivity

You’ve already identified the overall problem – missing deadlines.

Most people immediately jump to solutions and try to answer this question: “How do I get this employee to stop missing deadlines?”

Obviously, it’s because they need more resources, right? Maybe it’s because they weren’t clear on the requirements and what was expected of them. Or maybe, they just didn’t see the point and weren’t properly motivated.

That’s the same thing as saying, “My Landing Page isn’t converting,” and immediately jumping to solutions like, “I need to change the offer, add a video, or add more testimonials.”

But, what step did we miss in that jump … Analysis!

 

Step #2. Dive deeper to identify the elements that impact productivity

You can’t solve a problem unless you have a deeper understanding of the root cause.

For a website, we’ve been trained to ask, “What problems or obstacles are impeding a conversion on this page?”

Thankfully, we have a handy Conversion Sequence heuristic to help us identify the elements that impact conversion by asking the right questions during analysis:

  • Is it because there’s a lack of value?
  • Is the value clearly communicated?
  • Is the process is too confusing?
  • Are people concerned about what’s going to happen with their information?

All of these answers could be the possible culprits to your low conversion rate, but you’ll never know without identifying these possible issues and testing possible solutions.

The same thing goes for your people.

For someone missing deadlines, the question isn’t “How do I fix this?” Instead, the first question needs to be “Why are they missing deadlines?” or:

  • Are they confused with the exact date/time of the deadline?
  • Do they have a clear understanding of all the steps involved in the project?
  • Do they know all of the resources they’re going to need?
  • Are they able to build a timeline backwards from the deadline with reviews and milestones?
  • Do they not understand the impact the missed deadline will have on them personally or the company?

As you can see, the list of questions goes on and on, just like for your website.

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Marketing Career: National guide to digital marketing salaries

March 22nd, 2013 No comments

If you’ve been a reader of the MarketingSherpa Blog for a while, you know I think passion is an important part of a marketing job. After all, how can you really sell a product to potential customers unless you are passionate about it, too.

That said, a marketing job is still, well, a job. If we were all independently wealthy, we might not be as motivated to take the morning train to a marketing department every day and leave our families.

So, today’s blog post is about filthy lucre. Or, to be more specific, marketing salaries.

Wendy Weber, President, Crandall Associates, Inc., has allowed us to post the 2013 Digital Marketing National Salary Guide  for free download for readers of the MarketingSherpa blog. Just click that link and the PDF will instantly download. There is no squeeze page or form fill of any kind required.

I asked Wendy about what she learned while conducting research to put together the company’s 2013 salary guides. Here is what she had to say …

 

MarketingSherpa: Why the new addition of social media positions?

Wendy Weber: Many companies initially held back on hiring social media marketers. They questioned whether social media was a passing fad, and since it can be difficult to quantify and monetize, they chose not to devote resources towards it.

However, social media has only grown as a marketing tool, and at this point we can conclude that it is most certainly here to stay. Big corporations, as well as your local pizza parlor, want “likes” on Facebook, and most companies of any size now have the capability to respond to customer service issues through Twitter.

The actual resources being devoted to social media vary tremendously from one organization to another. Some companies are allowing interns to maintain the corporate social media presence, and others are paying six-figure salaries to social media teams.

Just as companies who didn’t establish a website back in the 1990s eventually accepted the online channel as a new order of conducting business, companies who didn’t accept social media as a marketing channel that is “here to stay” are now realizing that they need one or more dedicated social media professionals on staff.

A truly experienced social media professional is hard to find; many fancy themselves social media pros, but few can deliver.

Job descriptions vary widely; in some organizations social media is more focused on blogging. In others, it may be more focused on Facebook contests or Pinterest … and pay varies significantly, also. Read more…

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Marketing Career: 52% of all team members share all marketing responsibilities

November 29th, 2012 No comments

In the MarketingSherpa 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report, we asked 1,915 marketers about division of labor (or lack thereof) in their marketing departments …

Q: How are the responsibilities of your department divided among your marketing team?

 

 

Marketing integration

“The best way to achieve a fully integrated marketing approach is through consistency and working to achieve a common goal – this extends beyond the marketing team into business services, operations, and internal communication,” said Erin Miller, marketing, Gantt Huberman Architects.

“I think there should be a healthy balance within marketing teams to share responsibilities, as well as assigning ‘trusted advisers’ to responsibilities that require more than general knowledge.”

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Marketing Management: Incorporating giving into your marketing department or agency

November 20th, 2012 No comments

In the MarketingSherpa 2012 Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel, 52% of marketers from large companies agreed that their marketing departments’ potential are undermined because “management is autocratic, uses poor skills, is not encouraging, or has poor ethics.”

If this is a challenge you face as a leader, your problems run deeper than any one blog post can fix. After all, as John C. Maxwell has said, “There is no such thing as ‘business ethics;’ there’s just ethics.”

However, one way you can improve your department or agency and avoid being an autocratic, unethical leader (ouch) is by incorporating community giving into your team’s workflow.

Sometimes it can be difficult to carve out the time and resources to give back to the community, but the rewards for you and your staff are too numerous to ignore.

As an employee, to me the benefits are obvious. It feels good to not only support my coworkers with their philanthropic projects, but to know that they would similarly support me.

Click to enlarge

An Instagram photo of MECLABS employees at the Susan G. Komen walk in Jacksonville, Fla.

Participating in events also provides a great bonding experience, and gives employees a chance to work together outside of the office.

However, as great as it is for employees, it can be harsh as a manager who has to answer to the bottom line. Reid Stone, CEO, HEROfarm, and Kurtis Loftus, President and Creative Director, The Kurtis Group, talk about how to balance the benefits of giving back with the realities of business.

“It benefits the bottom line when all of a sudden employees and managers are all communicating in a better way … which ultimately leads to more profit for the company. So internally, it’s phenomenal,” Reid said.

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Marketing Career: Crafting an internal performance whitepaper

November 2nd, 2012 No comments

An email recently came across my inbox with an interesting attachment, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with the MarketingSherpa blog audience, because it’s a positive example for something I’ve seen many marketers struggle with – internal marketing.

In fact, when we asked 1,646 marketers their most pressing challenges in MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel, here’s what they had to say …

 

Chart: What challenges undermine your marketing department’s potential?

Click to enlarge

 

As you can see, roughly three-quarters or marketers said, “either a lack of funding or resources inhibit our growth and development.” So how can you get the resources and budget you need?

Back to that email I was telling you about. It was from Karen Doolittle, Director, Marketing Research, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Karen said, “While not a member of your organization, I quite often visit your website and attempt to glean information on the current state of affairs of email marketing.”

From the first line alone, I could tell that Karen is, what I like to call, a high-information marketer. The type of marketer that constantly looks for ways to improve her department’s performance. So I’m including her email attachment here, because I think all the other high-information marketers who read the MarketingSherpa blog can learn from it. She called it an …

 

Email Performance Whitepaper 

As you can see from the above link, what Karen did was quite simple, yet also pretty profound. I’m going to use an old quote that I love from Todd Lebo, Senior Director of Content and Business Development, MECLABS, to explain why, “Business leaders will never storm into the IT department and say, ‘I was taking a shower this morning, and had a great idea for some new PHP code.’ But they will come into the marketing department and say, ‘I was taking a shower this morning and thought of a great idea for an email send or a headline or a print ad.’”

What Karen’s piece says to business leaders is, “Hey, trust us over here; we know what we’re doing. And if you give us the funding and resources we need, we can keep doing it and keep improving.” But it uses data to prove that point, without having to make any claims at all.

Karen was kind enough to hop on the phone with me recently, go over the background of her internal whitepaper, and provide some tips to help you replicate this idea in your own organization. Below are selected edits from our conversation.

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Personal Branding: 3 tips for personal SEO

June 22nd, 2012 No comments

If someone were to enter your name into Google, what results would they find?

Establishing your personal brand online has become increasingly important, as more HR professionals and hiring managers turn to search engines for information on applicants. Some reports indicate upward of 90% of recruiters regularly research candidates on Google.

Moreover, realize that your competition has already taken action to improve their search engine results. According to ExecuNet’s 2012 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, 67% of executives have actively worked to become more visible online.

These executives are working on their results, but what about you? In a best case scenario, you will earn a few results on one of the top search engine result pages (SERPs). Worst case scenario? You find that you share a name with a slew of more established, accomplished and published people — at least according to Google results.

So, what can you do to improve your search engine results? Here are three tips for boosting the search ranking of your name.

  Read more…

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